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The Elvey Building on UAF's West Ridge houses the Geophysical Institute. Photo by JR Ancheta
The Elvey Building on UAF's West Ridge houses the Geophysical Institute. Photo by JR Ancheta

Geophysical Institute, Poker Flat offer free summer tours

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute is offering free public tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Two different guided tours are available. One consists of a visit to several science groups in the Geophysical Institute home base in the Elvey Building on UAF’s Troth Yeddha’ Campus. The other is a visit to Poker Flat Research Range at Mile 30 Steese Highway.

On a guided tour in the Elvey Building, visitors can learn about the institute, its giant satellite dishes and how researchers study everything from the center of Earth to the surface of the sun and beyond.

Stops include the Alaska Satellite Facility, Alaska Earthquake Center, Wilson Alaska Technical Center and Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration. Visitors will also meet graduate student researchers and have the opportunity to ask questions.

The tour takes about 90 minutes and is offered Wednesdays from May 29 through Aug. 28. Tours begin at 1 p.m. in the Elvey Building entrance lobby, 2156 Koyukuk Drive on UAF’s West Ridge. No registration is required, but large groups should call in advance. Ideal age range for tours is 12 years and older.

Join the Geophysical Institute’s Facebook event or visit the visitor information webpage for more information.

Guided tours of Poker Flat Research Range are offered on select Thursdays through August. Participants will learn about the science that happens at the range and see some of the facilities, including the blockhouse complex and the launch pads. Since 1969, the range has launched 350 sounding rockets, including two rare daytime liftoffs in April.

Poker Flat walking tours start at the Range Administration Center at 2 p.m. on scheduled Thursdays and last about two hours. The gate at Mile 30 Steese Highway opens about 1:30 p.m. Remaining tour dates are May 30, June 13, June 27, July 11, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 15 and Aug. 29.

No tickets or reservations are required. Comfortable walking shoes, insect repellent and dressing for the weather are strongly recommended. Visit the Poker Flat Facebook page or website for more information.

In a new partnership with Explore Fairbanks, the Geophysical Institute will also offer a Science for Alaska Summer Series at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Visit the Science for Alaska website to see lecture dates and topics, which include beavers in the Arctic, aurora, climate, volcanoes and earthquakes.

For more information on tours or the Science for Alaska Summer Series, contact the Geophysical Institute Public Information Office at 907-474-5229 or


Rod Boyce, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, 907-474-7185,