North Pole, Alaska Visitor Guide
North Pole, Alaska, is a charming small town located in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Known for its Christmas-themed attractions and year-round festive atmosphere, North Pole offers visitors a magical experience. This guide will cover North Pole’s latitude and longitude, directions from Anchorage, things to do, history, famous people, RV and camping information, and annual festivals and events.
North Pole is situated at approximately 64.7511° N latitude and 147.3494° W longitude.
Getting to North Pole from Anchorage
North Pole is located about 375 miles north of Anchorage. The most common way to reach North Pole is by car or by air.
From Anchorage, take AK-1 N/Glenn Highway, which eventually merges into AK-2 E/Richardson Highway. Continue on Richardson Highway until you reach the North Pole exit. The drive takes approximately 6 to 7 hours, depending on road and weather conditions.
Fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks on airlines like Alaska Airlines or Ravn Alaska. The flight takes about 1 hour. From Fairbanks, rent a car or take a shuttle service for the remaining 15-mile drive to North Pole, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes.
Things to Do
North Pole offers several unique attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Santa Claus House
Visit the iconic Santa Claus House, a year-round Christmas store where you can meet Santa Claus, see his reindeer, and shop for Christmas gifts and decorations. Children can also mail letters to Santa from the store’s post office.
North Pole Visitor Center
Stop by the North Pole Visitor Center to learn about the town’s history, pick up maps and brochures, and get information on local attractions and events.
Chena Lake Recreation Area
Explore Chena Lake Recreation Area, located about 5 miles from North Pole. The area offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking.
North Pole’s history dates back to the 1940s when the area was chosen as a site for a homestead settlement as part of the Alaska Homestead Act. The land was divided into small parcels and sold to settlers who began arriving in the early 1950s.
In 1952, a trading post named “Santa Claus House” was established by local residents Con and Nellie Miller, who later became known as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. The trading post featured a 42-foot tall Santa Claus statue, which quickly became a popular tourist attraction.
The town of North Pole was officially incorporated in 1953, with the goal of attracting more businesses and tourists. Over the years, the town has embraced its Christmas theme, with streets named Santa Claus Lane and St. Nicholas Drive, and city decorations featuring candy canes and Christmas lights.
Today, North Pole has a population of around 2,200 and remains a popular destination for tourists who want to experience a festive atmosphere year-round.
Famous People from North Pole
One notable individual from North Pole is Ruthy Hebard, a professional basketball player who currently plays for the Chicago Sky in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Ruthy grew up in North Pole and attended West Valley High School in Fairbanks before playing college basketball at the University of Oregon.
RV and Camping Information
There are several options for RV and tent camping in and around North Pole:
– **Riverview RV Park**: Located on the Chena River, Riverview RV Park offers full hook-up RV sites, tent camping, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and a dump station. The park is open seasonally from May to September.
– **Chena Lake Recreation Area**: The Chena Lake Recreation Area offers two campgrounds, the Lake Park and River Park. Both campgrounds provide RV and tent camping sites, restrooms, picnic areas, and easy access to a variety of recreational activities. The campgrounds are open seasonally from May to September.
Annual Festivals and Events
North Pole hosts several annual events that celebrate its unique Christmas theme and community spirit:
North Pole Christmas In Ice
Held each year from late November through early January, North Pole Christmas In Ice is a winter wonderland of ice sculptures, illuminated displays, and festive activities. The event features an ice park with ice slides, a maze, and ice carving demonstrations.
North Pole Summer Festival
The North Pole Summer Festival takes place in June and features a weekend of live music, food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and family-friendly activities. The event also includes a parade and a 5K fun run/walk.
North Pole Winterfest
Held in December, the North Pole Winterfest is a holiday celebration featuring a tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa Claus, holiday music, and kids’ activities.
Visitors to North Pole, Alaska, can immerse themselves in the town’s enchanting Christmas atmosphere, explore its history, and enjoy a variety of recreational activities. With its festive events, unique attractions, and welcoming community, North Pole offers a memorable experience for travelers year-round.
In addition to the previously mentioned attractions and events, visitors can also explore the surrounding region for a taste of Alaska’s natural beauty and adventure opportunities. Some additional activities and attractions to consider include:
Northern Lights Viewing
From late August through April, the North Pole area offers a chance to witness the breathtaking natural phenomenon known as the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The best viewing opportunities occur on clear, dark nights away from city lights.
Dog Sledding Tours
Experience a quintessential Alaskan adventure by booking a dog sledding tour. Several tour operators in the Fairbanks area offer dog sledding excursions, ranging from short rides to multi-day trips.
Located about 60 miles northeast of North Pole, Chena Hot Springs Resort provides visitors with the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in natural hot springs. The resort also offers a variety of activities, such as ice skating, snowshoeing, and guided tours.
For a taste of Alaska’s history, visit Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, a 44-acre city park that features historic buildings, museums, and attractions showcasing the state’s gold rush era and Native Alaskan culture.
Whether you’re visiting for a few days or planning an extended stay, North Pole, Alaska, offers a range of activities and attractions that cater to all ages and interests. Embrace the town’s festive spirit, take part in its annual celebrations, and explore the natural beauty and rich history of the region for a truly unforgettable Alaskan experience.