By Ann Shields
Updated: February 02, 2017

You can have your lunar eclipse. For my money, the celestial event worth staying up late for is the Aurora Borealis. Throw in an up-close and personal Iditarod experience and you’d have the hottest ticket in Alaska.  AdventureSmith Explorations, a California-based outfitter, has created a mid-winter soft adventure trip that’ll rouse you from your long winter’s nap.

The basic 4-night Northern Lights package can be booked anytime and includes a couple of nights in Fairbanks bookending two nights spent at Chena Hot Springs where the psychedelic glories of the northern lights can be enjoyed while soaking in the hot springs.  The resort, just an hour’s drive from Fairbanks, also features an Ice Museum, geo-thermal energy projects, and the northernmost greenhouse in the U.S.

When you opt for the Iditarod extension of the basic tour (only available between February 27 and March 8), you’ll follow up the Chena Hot Springs excursion with a flight up to Anchorage.  AdventureSmith has reserved a place at the Mushers Banquet, a long-standing tradition before the Iditarod dogsled race. Besides meeting the mushers and hearing their stories of past races and dog-teams, banquet attendees can participate in an auction for a chance to ride with one of the mushers out of the starting chute and over the first leg of the 1,150-mile race.

The 4-night Northern Lights tour runs $425 per person (which includes transfers, four nights’ accommodations, daily breakfast). The 8-night Iditarod & Northern Lights escorted tour costs $2,699 per person and includes all accommodations, daily breakfasts, two dinners, guide, roundtrip airfare between Fairbanks and Anchorage, as well as all admission charges.  For more information or to book, please visit AdventureSmith Explorations.

T+L Online Senior Editor Ann Shields proudly managed to avoid mention of Sarah Palin and mama grizzlies throughout this post.