Watching the Auroras in Alaska

Jul 10, 2018

by Dakota Veal '19
Edited for content and length

When I saw that Alaska was an option for my junior journey, I freaked out! You see, Alaska has been on my family’s destination bucket list for as long as I could remember and since I had the option to go for no additional cost, it was a no brainer! 

Dakota Veal '19 taking a quick (and cold) break.
Dakota Veal '19 taking a quick (and cold) break.

Within the first few days of the trip we set off to Healy, Alaska where the Denali National Park is located. We stayed at the Denali Dome home, which was a unique building with an amazing host family! It was hard not to feel right at home in this magical place. Both Terry and Ann were such amazing individuals and conversationalists, we enjoyed talking to them about their experience in Alaska. After settling in, we quickly made plans to go hiking through snow covered trails to take in the scenery.


A view from dog sledding.

After spending a few days in Healy, we packed up and headed out to Fairbanks. We spent a full day at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where we visited museums and learned about auroras, as well as going on a tour at a reindeer research farm. The museum offered a unique presentation of Alaska’s history and information about the animals native to the state. The lecture was very insightful because they explained exactly what auroras are, how you see them, and the effects that they have on the Earth. The reindeer research farm was so cool because we got to go out and see real life reindeer and feed them!

The following day we headed out to the Chena Hot Springs. Being able to relax in a hot spring while it was snowing was such a neat experience. It was a beautiful sight to see as we were surrounded by beautiful mountains. After we got out of the springs, we went on a tour of the on-site geothermal building, the source of the springs electricity supply.

Auroras viewed on one of the night excursions.
Photo taken by Dr. Manners of the Auroras viewed on one of the night excursions.

One of the most amazing experiences I had on this trip was getting to go dog sledding! For anyone who visits Alaska, this is a must. We traveled seven miles by trained snow dogs and were able to witness incredible views.

There are just simply no words to describe how magnificent the auroras were. Watching the colors of the lights change right before our eyes was breathtaking. We stayed up late and made so many memories.

Overall, I would love to do this trip again. It was such a unique experience and by far the most enjoyable trip I have ever been on. I have made new friendships and experienced unbelievable adventures.