Going to Fairbanks is a “must” on your first trip to Alaska. It’s a great little city with a small-town “feel.” There’s not much traffic, great restaurants, great campgrounds, RV and diesel service, and lots of stuff to see. They even have a Walmart if you are suffering any withdrawal symptoms by now! It will take you about a week in Fairbanks to do all the “tourist” stuff because there’s a bunch of stuff to see—but that’s okay, it’s worth it. We have spent a week in Fairbanks every time we made the Alaska trip. That’s a total of three weeks. 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 by them. A special “pass” is needed to enter the area monitored/controlled by the oil companies.
Even the 400-mile (640 km) gravel road, drive up to Prudhoe Bay is not for the faint-hearted! This is NOT a highway and they call it the “Haul Road.” This road has also 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 two people we saw outside were wearing those hats with mosquito-netting hanging down around their face and neck!
If it’s your burning desire to see 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!
Enjoy Fairbanks. This is one nice city. I recommend it.