By Kennita Williams, Air Force Spouse

Being stationed in Alaska offers some unique opportunities and challenges that you might not experience at another duty station. Army Spouse Kennita Williams offers this info about the Fairbanks area. If you are currently stationed at Fort Wainwright, please let other military families know what you like and don’t like about living there in a review on PCSgrades.com.

Climate

COLD! The interior of Alaska is a unique area to live when it comes to weather. During the summer months (June-August) highs will range in the 60-70 degree range. In September the temperatures plummet.

It is not uncommon for this area to get snow during this month. Usually, the first snow that sticks on the ground is in October and the snowiest months of the year are from Oct-Dec with the temperatures ranging from an average of 30 degrees in October to an average of 4 degrees in December.

January starts the hardest time of year as far as weather goes, with an average temp of -3 degrees but can see an excess of -50 degrees. This past winter, this occurred for a week straight. February is also cold but usually, has an average of 10 degrees. The sun begins to shine in March bringing forth the ‘breakup season.’ Alaska does not have a spring season. It literally goes from 3-4 feet of snow one week, and in a couple of weeks, all of it is gone! Winter lasts from October to April.

Historical Facts/Landmarks on Post

The major units at Fort Wainwright today are the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Alaska Aviation Task Force.

The fort is also home to Medical Department Activity-Alaska, Dental Activity-Alaska and Bassett Army Community Hospital. The hospital is named for Capt. John Bassett, a doctor killed while trying to evacuate wounded Soldiers during the Battle of Attu in World War II.

Fun Fact: Ft Wainwright is the home of the First Air Corps that worked closely with Russia.

 

Housing

On-Post Housing

If there is a location that a military family should strive to live in on-post housing, Ft Wainwright is it! Given the extremes in temperatures during the winter, the amount of snow, the heating costs, etc.; losing one’s entire BAH as a trade-off to live in a safe, well-cared for neighborhood, with maintenance, landscaping, trash removal and road plowing all taken care of by North Haven Communities is thought to be well worth it.

The North Haven master-planned communities offer a variety of homes and neighborhood amenities designed to meet your family’s needs. Families
enjoy the ease of getting to work or play within minutes.

Check out the reviews from fellow military families and photos of the on-post housing at Fort Wainwright.

Off Post Areas of Interest

Some favorite local restaurants include: The Cookie Jar, Loose Moose Café, Silver Gultch (Fox, AK), Sam’s Sourdough Café, The Chowder House and Alaska Salmon Bake.

Some great places to get your hair/nails done: Elements Salon, Shear Heaven Salon, L.A. Nails. Shopping offers a nice variety of stores to include: Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Home Depot, Fred Meyers, Sears, Lowes, Safeway and the Bentley Mall (about 6-8 shops).

Hidden Gem

Ft. Wainwright and the local Fairbanks area are one of Alaska’s hidden gems. If you like the outdoors or seeing untouched land and animals, this is the place to live. On any given day you can enjoy the view of the Aurora lights and a friendly visit from the neighborhood moose! There is plenty of hunting, fishing, camping and winter sports available that you won’t get anywhere else!

Some local points of interest include:

Riverboat Discovery – Enjoy a relaxing, entertaining boat cruise of the Chena and Tanana Rivers, including a guided walking tour of the Chena Indian Village. See Susan Butcher’s champion dogs, the wedding of the rivers, and Dixie Alexander’s Athabascan art.

Aurora Borealis Lodge – View the northern lights in style and comfort! Located 21 miles north of Fairbanks, the Aurora Borealis Lodge is ideally situated for 360 degree viewing & photography. From late August through early April, they offer nightly aurora tours w/ roundtrip transfers from Fairbanks.

Sled Dog Adventures in Fairbanks – Exciting dogsled rides, mushing school & tours with Alaskan guides. Arctic gear supplied.

Chena Hot Springs Resort – Experience the natural healing waters of the 105 degree outdoor hot springs rock lake with the northern lights dancing above your head. Families can enjoy the indoor swimming pool and hot tubs. No other place in Alaska offers both and they are open year round.

Fairbanks Children’s Museum  – interactive exhibits designed for young people. The museum offers activities such as role-playing, science, art and crafts, building, physical movement, and water play.  Events specifically designed to create a playful learning environment.

Fairbanks Curling Club – as they like to say “100 Years & Still Rockin'”.  This is the oldest club devoted to any sport in Alaska.

Finding Light

Sunlight is not always a given. During the winter months, it can go down to as little as 3-4 hours of sunlight a day, culminating in the shortest day of the year on December 21. This day is known as the winter solstice. Gaining 17 minutes of sunlight per day until there is sunshine around the clock on June 21. This day is known as the summer solstice. And then the reverse occurs. Often the summer seems like one long day because the sun doesn’t actually set again until August. But having the darkness in winter can be blessing around Christmas time as everyone just leaves their Christmas lights on around the clock and it truly is a Winter Wonderland.

Fort Wainwright is a great area for enjoying hockey games in the winter, camping and berry picking in the summer.

If you are a fan of living at Fort Wainwright, help other military families who are pcsing to your area, by leaving a review at PCSgrades.com.

PCSgrades Author: Kennita Williams is a proud Air Force spouse. The Williams family is stationed at Eielson Air Force Base which is about 20 miles from Ft. Wainwright.