The Alaska Public Lands Information Center is located downtown Fairbanks at the corner at 250 Cushman Street and 3rd Avenue. But the lands it represents are definitely off the beaten path. Alaska has far more federally owned public lands than any other state: National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges, Preserves and more. This is an excellent place to get information on any or all of them.
The Center offers an ongoing series of special events, both offsite and onsite, including films on dog mushing, the gold rush, wildlife, and a variety of other topics of interest to the outdoorsperson.
You have already paid for this service with your tax dollars, so take advantage of it.
After frequenting Gulliver's often in the last year, I was genuinely satisfied with their product and service despite the expensive but small salads in the cafe. I liked the hometown feel of the store, and enjoyed spending time out on their deck. However, recently I was treated very rudely by two members of the staff (one has worked there for a long time and I get the feeling he is an owner). I am a very cordial and an easy person to get along with, so when they treated me poorly, I was, frankly, stunned. I am sad that this happened, because Gulliver's was one of my favorite places in Fairbanks, but I will not be returning.
Get around the melted ice on the river by taking the slough. It is a cute little trail that bypasses the warm water released by the power plant on the Chena River. It meets the river on the east side of the bridge on University Avenue, and on the west side of hte Wendell Street bridge. Some parts of the trail are kind of rough and you go over a couple of beaver dams, but its better than open water.
North Pole. At about 15 minutes from Fairbanks lies a funky town named North Pole. Even if it's not the real North North Pole, it is the official town of Santa Claus. We took a taxi from our Fairbanks hotel to get here. The town has maybe 5 streets, but it's cute enough. At least, nicer than Fairbanks.
From wildlife to Mt McKinley, it is such an awesome sight and feeling. It's not exactly off the beaten path on the internet but you have to be going there on purpose to find it.
You don't understand how enormous the place is an how small you feel. If you're by yourself, when there are few people there, you also don't understand how alone you can be until you've experienced it.
In the old farm house, next to Creamer's Field, is the Visitors Center. During summer volunteer naturalists lead guided walks on the refuge from here. The center also contains a gift shop and exhibits about the wildlife that may bew viewed in the refuge. In addition to migratory birds , other wildlife which one may see include moose, red fox, snowshoe hare, squirrel and others.
This house, the dairy barn, and other structures are the only surviving pioneer dairy buildings in Interior Alaska. They were admitted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The Visitors Center is owned by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and staffed by a community-based nonprofit organization, Friends of Creamer's Field. Special educational events are held here throughout the year.
Creamer's Dairy was established during the gold rush at the turn of the century and continued to develop, enlarge and operate until 1966. As the dairy grew over the years, migratory waterfowl congregated at Creamer's Field in increasing numbers. The grain and large open fields provided prime habitat. When the dairy went up for sale in 1966, the community raised money to ensure the farm fields were preserved so the birds would continue to stopover along their migratory route. The farm is now managed by the state of Alaska as part of the 1800 acre Creamer's Refuge.
On Creamer's Refuge, a mosaic of forests, wetlands, and fields supplies wildlife with a wide variety of food resources, shelter, and nesting sites. But most of all, Creamer's Refuge is important to migratory birds such as the Sandhill Cranes and Canadian Geese which depended on the prime habitat to feed and rest each spring and fall enroute to their nesting sites further north, or their wintering gounds to the south. I was fortunate to be here in late summer to see the fields full of cranes and geese.
Visitor Activities include three nature trails leading through boreal borest, wetlands and along the farm road. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, dog musyhing and Skijoring. Sections of the refuge are open to hunting and trapping during the appropriate seasons.
The exhibit provides several interesting bits of information about the pipeline. This painted steel map of Alaska shows the route the pipeline takes running north and south across the state. The northern terminus is Barrow, the southern is Valdez.
I can't say I recommend this little place or not, but it makes a pretty interesting photograph in the early morning hours. The Airport Way Family Restaurant sits along Airport Way, a not so amazing drive from the airport into Fairbanks.
Back into Fairbanks and before I leave for a few other Alaska pages, here's some sights and recommendations in the town for you to hunt down while there.
This one is Kodiak Jacks. I didn't stop in Kodiak's but heard from Chuck Lazarus, one of my Ft. Wainwright friends, that it's a hopping place at night. Their sign is pretty cool at the very least. Give it a shot when you're here and let me know what you think about it.
The pipeline sits about ten feet off the ground at it's highest point, is a four to six feet diameter circular tube, and really needs no warning to stay off it, but look closely and you can see their warning to keep your mits off anyway!!
You actually have to drive a little ways from Fairbanks to reach Pump Station Number Six. In fact, you have to drive about two hours up Highway 2 and the Dalton Highway to access this location, so it's not really Fairbanks at all. I've tricked you, I suppose. My apologies, as I didn't really intend to.
I started talking about the Pipeline though, and as the pump stations are part of the Pipeline, and Fairbanks is also a part of the Pipeline, or at least a nearby way point, I decided to continue info about the line and include Pump Station Six here with Fairbanks. You'll just have to bear with me while I get this down.
This 2000 pound "pig" was once used to clean the pipes, preventing scale and buildup in the lines. The 105 degree oil pushed the pig through the line under pressure, sending it zooming down the pipe in a circular motion, clearing anything that collected along the pipe's interior surface.
The technology for these pigs has changed, replacing it for a much lighter product that saves considerable wear and tear on the pipe. The one at the exhibit looks interesting though, and gives a very good illustration of how things were initially done.
The "Town Mascot" for Fairbanks. I decided that no trip to Fairbanks would be complete without having this Photograph in the collection. There's a pylon with distances to dozens of cities across the planet just to the west of this sculpture, which local transients use for their central location. They didn't seem that friendly, so don't loiter around them if you're not prepared to defend yourself I think. This looks like the only place in Fairbanks to watch out for the local derelicts.
One aspect of the great local culture is the Totem Pole. There's some wonderful art in Alaska, with my favorite example being the Totem Poles. This is a small one outside Captain Bartletts.
One other neat little thing I liked about Bartletts is that the patrons write their names and info on dollars and staple them to the walls, beams and posts. I've got one nailed to the left of the bar, so let me know if you see it when there.