Alaska is colder in the winter, and darker than the summer. There's no arguing that, but it is arguably even more beautiful. Even if you are not a fan of the dark/cold, there is no denying the beauty in the winter here. From snow covered peaks to chasing the Northern Lights, there is something for everyone to love here.
Even with the extra cold and darkness here, that doesn't mean the state shuts down, at all. Some of the best experiences in Alaska happen in the winter. In Anchorage, you can check out the world-famous Iditarod dog race, or take a dogsled tour yourself (you may see the Northern Lights if you are lucky!).
Here are some of the best Alaska winter activities we recommend:
Photo: Visit Alaska
1. Ski at Alyeska Resort (https://alyeskaresort.com/)
Alyeska Resort is far more than just a ski destination, it's a true epicenter for outdoor activites year-round! It sits as the gateway to the spectacular Chugach Mountains. Alyeska is most famous for its world-class winter activities. Ski or snowboard down some of the snowiest slopes in North America, or go for a dogsled ride by moonlight.
Conde Nast Traveler rated Alyeska as the "Best view of any US ski resort" for its mountain, glacier, and ocean views. With an average annual 650 inches of snowfall at the top, Alyeska has nearly 2,000 skiable acres and more than 75 named runs and trails. There are runs here for everyone from beginners to experts! It is home to the North Face, the longest continuous double black diamond run in North America!
Photo: Visit Alaska
2. Take a Northern Light Tour/Chase them yourself! (https://alaskatours.com/alaska-natural-attractions/alaska-northern-lights/)
The aurora borealis can dominate the Alaska sky at anytime, and these magical displays are unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Given the right conditions and viewing, these dancing lights might even shimmer right over your head. Thousands of people travel to Alaska every winter to see and photograph this otherworldy phenomena. Here's how to join:
The viewing season lasts nearly seven months, from mid-August through mid-April. Depending on cloud cover and weather, the nights will be dark enough to highlight these great auroras.
Fairbanks is a great place to see the aurora. While the aurora can appear over any part of Alaska, the chances improve with latitude. Southeast Alaska locales also experience auroras, but the frequency falls off as you go further south. Add in the cloudiness of the region's rainforest climate and you should not travel to these areas to try and see the auroras.
Photo: Visit Alaska
3. Take a Snowmobile Tour (https://snowtours.net/)
One of the best ways to explore Alaska's winter backcountry is by snowmobile, in warm clothing. Encountering giant brown moose in the forest, or spying wolftracks is not uncommon. Or even travel to the face of a glacier, with blue caves and crevasses.
Touring by snow machine (what Alaskans call snowmobiles) is one of the best ways to experience Alaska during the winter. After heavy snowfall, a trail network gets packed, filling hundreds of miles of routes that are often groomed. Remote locations and rugged terrain can actaully become more accessible during the winter. No other mode of transportation compares to snow machines and the up-close intimacy of spending time deep in Alaska's snowy wilderness.
Alaska snow machine guides specialize in introducer newcomers to the sport and truly love to host out-of-state visitors. Trips can range from just a few hours on local trails, to all-day rides to multi-day excursions! The tour companies usually provide full winter gear including boots, clothing, and helmets! The snowmobiles are often luxury models with heated handlebars and secure seats that are both reliable and powerful. It's fun, and family friendly!
This is truly one of the most Alaskan activities. Snow machines are essential tools for transportation in hundreds of off-road communities all winter, used by everyone from children to hunters. Enjoy!
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