In the heart of Alaska is the most populous northern U.S. city. Fairbanks is the second largest metropolis in the state of Alaska and is so far north that it falls just below the Arctic Circle. Only when gold was discovered did the number of prospectors who flooded the area increase dramatically. The town was founded in 1901 by E. T. Barnett, but was named for Charles W. Fairbanks. The town is known for its rich history during the gold rush and the gold prospectors who established the Fairbanks Foundation. That’s why the town and its surroundings have been nicknamed the “Golden Heart of Alaska.”

Because of its location so far north, Fairbanks is best known for its views of the northern lights. The northern lights, as they are called scientifically, occur when the solar wind moving away from the sun continues to collide with the earth’s atmosphere, creating an impressive array of bright colors in the sky. This miracle of nature can only be seen at higher latitudes, closest to the poles. The auroral season in Fairbanks begins in mid-August and lasts until mid-April. On average, the northern lights can be seen four nights out of five, when the sky is darkest and clearest.

For an even more ethereal experience, head to Chena Hot Springs Resort. Located in the North Star area of Fairbanks, these natural hot springs also provide geothermal energy for the region. It may be one of the smallest resorts where you can pleasantly relax in these natural hot springs while the Aurora dances, an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the United States.

When looking at the continental United States, Alaska seems like an exception, completely separate from the rest of the mainland. That’s why Alaskans refer to the other states as the “Lower 48.” But as Alaska’s motto, “North to the Future,” chosen by Juno Newsman Richard Peter, says, Alaska is in many ways the future. There is still so much untouched wilderness in Alaska that it is a place where people can go to separate themselves from the material world. People come here to get off the grid, to immerse themselves in the framework of Mother Nature. Whether you come here to live or to vacation, Alaska remains America’s last frontier and an untouched jewel for some of the most remote wilderness and wildlife anywhere on the planet.