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Fiddling Under the Northern Lights: Culture and Science in Alaska

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Road Scholar
Program #6328RJ
11 Days | 10 Nights
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Robin from Imperial Beach, CA Number of programs attended: 4
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
We learned so much more than we expected: Northern lights, Athabascan Elder presentations, trapping in Alaska, animals, Dog sledding and the passion of Alaskans for their state. The Northern lights were amazing and the photos even more so and Chena Hot Springs is a magical place to be in the winter.

Carol from Harrisburg, PA Number of programs attended: 28
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
This was truly a trip of a lifetime. Our leader Kathleen was totally organized & her experiences offered us a unique insight into Alaska life & Athabascan culture. Meeting with the Athabascan elders & spending the afternoon with musher Mary Shields at her home were the highlights I will remember most. Relaxing in the hot springs at Chena amid the snow was a special treat. The only downside was the cloudy nights not giving us much opportunity to view the aurora.

Lynn from Loveland, CO Number of programs attended: 4
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
We wanted to see the Aurora and learn about the native people of Alaska. We were able to accomplish both objectives but would have liked to have been in a more remote area for viewing the aurora near Fairbanks. We were pleased to learn more about the native people of Alaska and the Alaskan wilderness than we expected. Kathleen is very knowledgeable and the speakers lined up were fascinating. The educational classroom speakers were very informative and provided stimulating events while waiting for the sun to set and aurora to appear from behind the clouds.

Joyce from Modesto, CA Number of programs attended: 12
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
I thoroughly enjoyed this program! Learning is one of the things I like most about Road Scholar, and I thought all of our speakers were excellent. With the late snow, I felt lucky to see the Aurora even once. Talking with the elders was special - as was meeting the first women to finish the Iditarod and meeting her dogs and ... so many wonderful things! It also helped that Kathleen was our leader.

Mary from Los Osos, CA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
It's sad that a member of our group failed to understand that the weather was unusual for November in Fairbanks, which limited our Aurora viewing. A larger bus was available for group use on future nights but on the night we arrived the gloomy sky and cloudy prediction meant there was no need to keep a larger bus and driver waiting. When the clouds broke unexpectedly group leader Kathleen jumped at the opportunity to take the group out on or available transport. Because we traveled in two groups some got there early and grew cold so opted to leave. We were in the latter group, warmly dressed, thrilled at the panorama and were grateful for the effort our leader made to ensure the safety and health of her program participants. Future outings to see the Aurora might include bringing along some plastic chairs and blankets so people can stay out longer. When people arrive from the East Coast, tired from traveling, they may find the time difference a challenge. All of the speakers were outstanding, from humorous Aurora scientist Neil Brown to the heart warming Athabascan elders. We loved our Alaska Adventure.

Charles from Staten Island, NY Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 11/05/13 - 11/15/13
If your primary interest is seeing the northern lights, this is not the program for it. The vehicle used for our group could not accomodate everyone at the same time, so multiple trips had to be made to shuttle everyone arouund. There were over 20 people in the group, and the vehicle was a 14 passenger bus. This precluded going far away from the city light pollution for optimal viewing conditions. We were taken to a dark street in downtown Fairbanks about 5 minutes from the hotel. I know for a fact that while we were in town, there were some really nice auroras seen from Cleary Summit and Chena Lake (each about 20 miles from Fairbanks, but we did not have adequate transportation to take the entire group in one trip, so we were restricted to the area within a few minutes of the hotel. In addition, we went to see the lights when someone had already seen them and informed us they were out. It would have been preferable to go out to an appropriate area and wait to see if they came out.

I also thought there was too much "classroom" time. I did not have to travel all the way to Fairbanks to spend so much time in a classroom.

On a positive note, listening to the Athabaskan Elders talk about their lives was very interesting. We also really enjoyed Chena Hot Springs.

Willie from Fresno, CA Number of programs attended: 22
Date attended: 11/06/12 - 11/16/12
It's been a week since I came home and what a great trip this was. We saw Northern Lights the first night and two nights at Chenna Springs. The fiddle festival was a good cultural experience. Instructors and guides were well informed and I learned a lot. We had fresh snow in Fairbanks and the last night at Chenna had a taste of Alashan winds. Took walks in 16 and 20 below. The only warm clothes I have improved on is a new pair of gloves with hand warmers. I'm set for the next COLD trip. Oh yeah, the food at Chenna Springs is the best. WOW Looking forward to going back to Alaska in summer.

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"Aurora from downtown Fairbanks next to the Springhill Suites Hotel" Uploaded By: Lynn
"Aurora from downtown Fairbanks next to the Springhill Suites Hotel" Uploaded By: Lynn

"Aurora north of Fairbanks" Uploaded By: Lynn

"Aurora north of Fairbanks" Uploaded By: Lynn

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
10 nights of accommodations
29 meals: 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners
10 Expert-led lectures
11 Field trips
6 Hands-on experiences
2 Performances


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