Field Trips

Calypso Farm and Ecology Center

Calypso Farm and Ecology Center is a non-profit, educational farm, which is located on 30 acres in Ester, Alaska. On the farm, visitors will find a small flock of Shetland sheep, dairy goats, chickens, and a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The farm’s mission is to encourage local food production and environmental awareness through hands-on education in natural and farming ecosystems.

ICRPS participants will learn about soils, micro-climate, northern growing, ecological agriculture, water catchment, and more.

For more information, please visit Calypso’s website.


Chena Hot Springs

Chena Hot Springs was discovered in 1905 by two gold miners. By 1911, they had built a stable, bathhouse, and twelve small cabins for visitors. The waters are similar to those of a famous hot springs in Bohemia, containing sulfate, chloride, and bicarbonate of sodium.

Today, the resort produces 100% of its electricity from renewable energy; as well, all 46 buildings on the site are heated using geothermal energy. Research is also being done to develop and harness plastic-to-oil technology, wind energy, and solar energy.

ICRPS participants will have the opportunity to explore the resort, attend a geothermal renewable energy tour, and soak in the curative waters.

For more information about the resort and its renewable energy projects, please visit the Chena Hot Springs Resort website.


University of Alaska Large Animal Research Station (LARS)

LARS is the premier research station for large wildlife research in interior Alaska. Research focuses on nutrition, metabolic, physiological, and behavioral studies of muskoxen, caribou, and domestic reindeer.

During prehistoric times, Muskox could be found roaming the globe, but since the last ice age, they can now only be found in Alaska, Greenland, Canada, and Siberia. They are a unique animal in that they do not migrate or hibernate during the harsh winters. Instead, they have specially adapted fur which allows them to withstand frigid temperatures.

The other two animals bred and studied at LARS are caribou and reindeer — closely related. Caribou are the wild species native to North America; reindeer are the domesticated cousins, brought to Alaska from northern Scandinavia in the early 1900s.

ICRPS participants will have the opportunity to tour the research facility and closely observe muskox, reindeer, and caribou. PLEASE NOTE: We will be walking (approximately 1.5 miles / 2.4 km, one way) to the farm. Please bring comfortable walking shoes.

For more information, please visit the LARS website.


Alaska Cold Climate Housing Research Center

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) is a non-profit designed to facilitate the development, use, and testing of energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and cost-effective building technologies for people living in circumpolar regions around the globe. The Research and Testing Facility is located on land leased from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which allows for close collaboration with students, faculty, and researchers at the university.

Research at the facility includes building science, policy research, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, cold climate issues, and more.

ICRPS participants will tour the CCHRC research facility and have the opportunity to talk with researchers about construction and policy issues in the north.

For more information, please visit the CCHRC website.


The UA Museum of the North

The UA Museum of the north boasts the only research and teaching museum in Alaska, and houses 1.4 million artifacts and specimens. The collections are organized into 10 disciplines: archaeology, birds, documentary film, earth sciences, ethnology and history, fine arts, fishes and marine invertebrates, insects, mammals, and plants. Exhibits highlight 2000 years of flora, fauna, cultural traditions, Alaska art, and history.

For more information, please visit the UAMN website.


World Eskimo Indian Olympics

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics has been an annual event since 1961. Participants compete in traditional games of strength, endurance, balance, and agility. As well, the annual event features dance competitions, a baby regalia competition, and the Miss WEIO Queen Contest. Vendors include Alaska Native artists from around the state, as well as people selling traditional foods and wares.

For more information, please visit the WEIO website.


Optional excursions on the “Day Off”

All excursions have limited spaces, and will be filled on a “first-come, first-served” basis. To sign-up, please contact Alysa Loring.

Option 1: Day Hike with Outdoor Adventures
Spaces Available: 10
This excursion will allow the more adventurous participant a taste of Interior Alaska’s wilderness. Participants will travel 30-60 minutes outside of Fairbanks to be led on a guided hike through some of the Interior’s boreal and taiga forest, tussocky tundra, and granite outcroppings. The hike is of moderate difficulty and hikers should bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and bug spray. As well, hikers are advised to bring an extra layer or two, because summer thunderstorms can sneak in and surprise hikers with sudden inclement weather.

Two trained wilderness guides will lead the tour and will be able to provide hikers with some information on the landscape and ecology. Hikers will experience beautiful views and possibly encounter some wildlife on this day-long excursion.

Option 2: “Behind the Scenes” Special Tour at the UA Museum of the North
Spaces Available: 10
The University of Alaska Museum of the North (UAMN). is the only research and teaching museum in Alaska, and houses over 1.4 million artifacts and specimens, which represent millions of years of biological diversity and cultural traditions in the North.

Participants of this special excursion will be taken “behind the scenes” to the museum’s labs and collections storage area, where scientists, researchers, and curators work on specimens and artifacts that are not on display. The 60-minute tour will give participants the opportunity to see what “normal” museum visitors do not — the vast collections, active work / research, and curation techniques. Participants will see researchers at work, have the opportunity to talk with curators and lab managers, and will visit state-of-the-art research labs, which include 10 curatorial departments: archaeology; ornithology; documentary film; fine arts; earth sciences; ethnology and history; entomology; ichthyology and aquatics; mammalogy; and the herbarium. After the tour, participants can explore the museum exhibits on their own.

This excursion is perfect for the ICRPS participant who would like to learn more about Alaska, but also have time to explore Fairbanks on their own. Because the museum is located on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, participants will have ample time in the morning before the tour to spend time on their own exploring Fairbanks. City bus service will be available for those who wish to visit the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, the Morris-Thompson Cultural center, and downtown Fairbanks before the afternoon tour at the museum.

Option 3: Chena River Float with Canoe Alaska
Spaces Available: 20
On this excursion, participants will share a tandem canoe on a scenic paddle of the lower Chena River. Participants will start at Pioneer Park, where they will receive their gear (including PFDs [life vests], paddles, and tandem canoes); they will then be shuttled to the put-in at Nordale Road, near North Pole. From there, paddlers will float the river back to Fairbanks.

The river meanders through boreal forest and passes through Fort Wainwright. Lucky paddlers may glimpse a moose or beaver, as well as other wildlife including a variety of waterfowl. Paddlers will be on the river for approximately 5 hours, and should bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and snacks.

Option 4: Permafrost Tunnel and Long Term Ecological Research Site Tour
Spaces Available: 15 — Foreign Participants must be confirmed / approved no later than 10 June
This day-long excursion will take visitors to two unique research stations — the Permafrost Tunnel and a Long Term Ecological Research Site in the boreal forest. Participants in this excursion will have the opportunity to see some unique geologic features, talk with scientists about ongoing research, and learn about the unique landscape of Interior Alaska.

The Permafrost Tunnel
Permafrost is continuously frozen ground. Throughout Alaska, there are areas of continuous and discontinuous permafrost. Recent climate warming has caused some permafrost to melt, creating disturbances on the landscape that are heretofore unknown.

The permafrost tunnel is an active underground research laboratory located just outside Fairbanks, in the town of Fox. The tunnel is maintained and operated by the United States Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), and offers researchers the ability to study a frozen environment that is over 40,000 years old.
The geology in the tunnel is typical of the area — though permafrost is discontinuous throughout the interior. The cryostructures visible in the tunnel include ice wedges, segregation ice, and thermokarst-cave ice. Visitors will walk through permafrost, learn about permafrost features, see Pleistocene fossil remains, and learn about how the tunnel is used for research.

More information about the permafrost tunnel can be found on the website.

NOTES: Because the tunnel is operated by the United States government, all visitors must be pre-approved to visit the tunnel. Non-U.S. citizens visiting the tunnel are required to submit paperwork and a color copy of their passport.
The temperature in the tunnel is kept at approximately -4C (24.8F). Visitors are advised to bring layers or a light coat to stay warm during the tour.

Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Sites
Several Long Term Ecological Research sites are located in the boreal forest of Interior Alaska. Research done at the sites is focused on building understanding of long-term consequences of climate change and disturbance regimes, forest dynamics, biogeochemistry, ecosystem dynamics, social-ecological dynamics, and science and resource management. In addition, research in a relatively pristine watershed gives researchers the opportunity to understand how disturbances (such as wildfire) influence stream ecosystems.

LTER visitors will experience unique landscape and ecological features of Interior Alaska and may even have the opportunity to see some wildlife.

More information can be found at the website.