Going to Fairbanks is a “must” on your first trip. It’s a great little city with a small-town “feel.” There’s not much traffic, great restaurants, great campgrounds, and lots of stuff to see. It will take you about a week in Fairbanks to do all the “tourist” stuff—but that’s okay, it’s worth it. We have spent a week in Fairbanks each time we made the Alaska trip. We like this town!
What is interesting is that Fairbanks is the northernmost city you normally visit in an RV. However, Fairbanks is literally in the southern half of the state. That simply means there’s a LOT of Alaska above (north) Fairbanks that is not accessible to you without a plane!!!
While in Fairbanks, some people start to feel the need (or get the “itch”) to take their RV up toward Prudhoe Bay assuming they can stick their finger in the Arctic Ocean. You can drive to Prudhoe Bay but you cannot get to the water! Prudhoe Bay has been leased to the oil companies and is protected. A special “pass” is needed to enter the area.
Even the 400-mile (640 km) one-way, gravel road, drive up is not for the faint-hearted! This “Haul Road” has been called “Alaska’s most remote and challenging road” and since you are not from there and really don’t know what you are getting into, I recommend you forget about doing this. Call me if you need to talk about it!!!
You CAN drive the Haul Road from Fairbanks to the big pull-off and sign announcing that you are entering the Arctic Circle. But that sign is close to 200 miles (320 km) of gravel road north of Fairbanks. Go another 60 miles and you will be in Coldfoot. I’ve been to Coldfoot (not in an RV but we landed there one time) and firmly believe it’s where they invented mosquitos!!! The few people we saw were wearing those hats with mosquito-netting hanging down around their face and neck!
If it’s your burning desire to visit the Arctic Ocean, take a tour (flight) from Fairbanks and go to Barrow, AK.
The northernmost town in the USA, Barrow has about 4,000+ residents and lots of stuff to see. Yes, it’s primitive and it sets on the Arctic Ocean. When we were there, our bus tour (all over the town and surrounding area) took us “close to” the Arctic Ocean but it was frozen out to at least 50 yards (45 meters) from shore—so we didn’t touch the water either! In this picture taken during the flight, you can see the Arctic Ocean (the dark blue band near the top of the picture) and the ice along the shore (the white band).
Enjoy Fairbanks. This is one nice city. I recommend it.