Chasing the Northern Lights! Alaska Winter Road Trip in 4K. Denali National Park, Aurora.

Chasing the Northern Lights! Alaska Winter Road Trip in 4K. Denali National Park, Aurora.

Last year you might have heard me say
“The interior parts of Alaska in the middle of winter are virtually
guaranteed to have Northern Lights, all night long.”
I’d better go test that theory… in February normal people might take
vacations to warm places like the Caribbean. I’m not exactly normal, nor am I alone. I haven’t seen the Northern Lights in, what seems like… I don’t know five months? This is going to be a long flight–and
I’ve got some work to do. I’m meeting my storm-chasing friends,
Daren and Spence,r in Fairbanks, Alaska with the express purpose of seeing the
aurora and the great state of Alaska during the coldest winter they’ve had in
ten years. Fairbanks looks like it might be in for
some less than ideal weather while we visit, but we have some tricks up our
sleeves. For starters, if you fly to Fairbanks, take the overnight flight. Pick
a seat on the right-hand side of the plane. Ideally one well in front of the wings or ahead of the middle exit rows. Once you
are far enough north block out all of the light from inside of the plane using
your coat, and have a look. If you see the aurora, try the same with your camera and see if you can take a picture of them. But planes are bumpy, and hand-held long exposures are pretty difficult. Steady. A little better. Keep trying. There we go!
Shoot, the plane moved. Steady. Okay I better get this right soon, we’re almost
to Fairbanks. steady, steady. There we go! If you get
enough clean consecutive pictures you can even make a time lapse from the
plane. Alright enough of that, let’s get way out of town and get these cameras
set up. And let’s see how it looks. All right, that’s enough messing around
let’s do this! One of the most Alaska things you can do in Alaska is to take a shot of the Aurora overhead, with the Big Dipper and
the North Star. Okay we haven’t slept in almost 24 hours
Time to get some sl-Breakfast! No i’m comparing my hand to [the plate.] With even more bad weather in the forecast for Fairbanks, it’s time to find a place a
bit less cloudy. Along the way we encountered a few
caribou grazing for…. road salt? What does a trio of stormchasers
deprived of tornadoes for more than nine months sound like? It’s something like
this… “Ooh yes. right now look at that! Dixie alley chasing this one. Oh that’s a
good one! Just chillin up there. It’s pretty little
mountain. A common thing I had said repeatedly on this trip was, “Hey I’ve
seen this Bob Ross painting before!” Bob Ross after all learned to paint in
Alaska. Time to get off the road and walk some
trails. Well it’s almost three o’clock. [These clouds won’t even bother us by ‘aurora time’] Check out this place, huh? Just found this place. [like] Let’s just stay here! There’s a runway where ski planes land in the middle of winter and this is called “The Runway House” and so we’ve got a kitchen and a couple of bedrooms to ourselves. It’s a cozy little place with an
amazing view. Clearing sky. A Ski Plane
runway… At The Runway House.
[Dogs and Wolves Howling, Yipping] The howls of a distant wolf pack riled up the
neighbors sled dogs.[Dogs Barking] Unfortunately the train arrived in
Cantwell, as well as a few more clouds, and parked for the night. The depot was
broadcasting bright outdoor lighting that would choke out our view. Nightfall
came and a “Kp3” was already in progress. Last night by comparison was only a two
after we had landed in Fairbanks. And we had a 3 while we were in the air. As local midnight approaches, or about 1:30 a.m. local time. A Kp3 show would be really
good for us as we headed north of Denali. I made a couple test shots with my
camera to see if the display was already visible. It sure was! Let’s do this. I’m doing video guys! Straight up video…
check it out [quiet camera banter] [camera banter] Oh it’s getting brighter! That is
fantastic! That’s coming across wonderfully in video right now! Oh that was amazing! Most of its hiding behind
the cloud. Darn! Oh that was perfect! I’m keeping the audio sorry. I was like the time-lapse is not cutting it Oh that is gorgeous! How did we find clear skies during what
should have been nothing but statewide overcast clouds? It was with a little
help from orographic lift, and the rain shadow effect. Weather systems coming
from the south have their moisture squeezed out by the [Alaska] Range. And
sometimes, and for only a few short miles, clear skies can be had to their north.
There are other places like this in Alaska, and I’ll show you an even better
one in a couple of nights! With a new day it’s time to soak in the sights of the
Alaska Range. Do you want to move to Alaska, Darren?
Darren: “No” (Laughter) I am in love with this place! Ff only
it was clear… …at night around here–I’d love to see
these mountains all lit up by Northern Lights! And here we can see some of that
orographic lift at the 20,000 foot peak of Denali’s south side, acting has a bit of
a shield against the incoming weather. Unfortunately that also means that the
summit is tough to see. That’ snowbkank will stop us! (Laughter) Here’s good! Spencer [I can’t even do this] Me: Keep going! But it’s a great view! It was worth it. Yeah how’s the weather down there? Oh look at Darren. He’s got the right idea. [Darren complains] We gotta work smarter not harder! Another wave of weather began to roll in. This time mostly of high clouds which Denali would be of little help to us. However the ice crystals in these cirrus clouds created an ‘upper tangent arc’
above the Sun. A night of snow and overcast skies were
in the offing, which was a shame since the Aurora was already fairly active.
We sleep Time for an Alaskan Amber Ale and to make some room on my memory cards. Paxson, Alaska sits inside a valley surrounded on all sides by tall mountain ranges. This time the Chugach to our South
should shield us from cloudy skies coming in from off the Gulf of Alaska—Or trap us there I guess we’ll find out. This is the best season ever. And now we find out if Northern Lights
really are visible from this part of Alaska on any night the year. The Aurora are about as quiet as possible. barely more than a KP of 0 [Zero] This does not mean no Aurora at all, rather it has just retreated well to our north. Challenge accepted! I might as well show off our three nights of success! A very strong storm rolled into the
Alaska Range to our north, trapping us in the valley. With 12 hours until our flights home, we take the scenic route. Through the Chugach range, to Wassila and back around to Denali again. Happy little trees. Don’t try this at home kids. It figures that weather to our west
would clear up marvelously in the meantime. Giving us a perfect view of
Denali and the entire Alaska Range. Take the overnight flight home again,
this time sit on the left side of the plane. Ideally well in front of the wings or ahead of the middle exit rows. Were the northern lights visible from
the plane again? Absolutely It’s absolutely true, if you can make the
most of the weather in Alaska you can see Northern Lights any night of the
winter! It’s time to get back home where Spring
seems like less of a far-off dream. Thanks for watching! subscribe for more
content like this. And do all those other things youtubers like to bug you about
35 seconds before the end of a video! Check the links in the description for
related content as well as links to Darren and Spencer’s channels. Until the
next one, get out there! and learn something new.

About the author


  1. Would you do this all on your own or with some friends? Let me know! Also, Join us!:

  2. Love Northern lights they are the best! Makes me want to book a flight and do it! Great video again! Next time eat a Moose Burger!..

  3. Man I am so glad you weren't filming when I got the car stuck 50 feet past that no maintenance road sign

  4. Subscribe to this channel before it gets up there. Wholesome, natural, informative, well done channels like this are on the rise

  5. I’ve always said I wanted to see the northern lights for myself. You video reaffirmed that! That’s awesome you got to go with friends of yours that enjoy photography also. Dream trip!

  6. Holy moly you really made me want to book an Alaska trip! Highly entertained all the way through, and awesome timelapses!!

  7. Few years back when i was still in the navy we were sailing alongside the Norwegian coast close to the city of Trondheim.
    It was there were i saw the Northern lights i will never forget that first time seeing it.
    I was in complete awe

  8. I lived in Fairbanks for four years and could probably count the number of times I saw really good auroras on my 12 fingers.

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