Guest Author - Dawn Engler
Travel just a bit north of Fairbanks to Fox, Alaska and there the Steese Highway begins. This road travels almost as far as the Arctic Circle, and ends at Circle, Alaska on the Yukon River! Along the way you can visit Gold Dredge No.8 which was one of the stops on our cruise-tour with Holland America in 2000. Tour the five deck dredge and learn the story of the gold pulled from this area. You can pan for a little gold too if you want.
The White Mountains National Recreation Area and Birch Creek National Wild & Scenic River are accessed from Steese Highway. Consider a campout or cabin stay at Chena River State Recreation Area. Some of the stateís best camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing and other outdoor activities can be found here. Donít count out the winter activities which include cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, snow machining and donít forget the views of the Northern Lights! Private campgrounds abound along the Steese Highway, if the national areas are booked.
Once you are plumb tuckered out from being so busy hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing, itís time to soak. In the Chena River Hot Springs! Open year round, you have much to enjoy here. Soak in a hot springs fed tub, get a massage, take an Aurora snow coach tour, or even a sled dog ride. There a quite a few summits along the Steese Highway providing wonderful views of that midnight sun around Summer Solstice in June. If you happen to be on the highway during late July into early September, you may catch a migrating herd of caribou meandering across the highway!
Take the Steese Highway all the way to the end to the Yukon River and Circle, Alaska. Once called Circle City, the miners that moved into this area mistakenly thought they were right on the Arctic Circle. In actuality, Circle is about 50 miles from the Arctic Circle itself. If you get out that far and are wondering about facilities, there is a general store and gas.
If you travel in the winter, mind the road advisories, and beware the avalanches. Other than that, if you find yourself in Fairbanks with some exploring time on your hands, head up the Steese Highway. You wonít regret it.