The truth is that winters in Alaska are not as cold and dark as one may think. Temperatures in the state hover around an average of between 19.4 F (-7 Celsius) and 30 F (-1 Celsius). Additionally, southern parts of Alaska get up to 6 hours of daylight during the winter months.
Another reason to travel to Alaska in winter is the fact that visitors get great rates on many things including hotels, rental cars, and tours. Some activities such as Nordic skiing and ice skating are free as long as one has his/her equipment. It is also a great time for visitors to sample the local hospitality since many locally owned joints remain open even in winter.
Things To Do In Fairbanks
1. See the Northern Lights
According to experts, there is nowhere better to chase the Northern Lights in the United States than in the city of Fairbanks. In fact, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska is located here. The institute is responsible for monitoring Aurora viewing conditions and giving forecasts. Visitors have an 80% chance of seeing the Northern Lights if they stay in the city for at least three nights.
Popular northern lights viewing spots in Fairbanks include;
- Ester Dome
- Ski Land Lodge
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Creamer's Field
- Chena Hot Springs
2. Visit Chena Hot Springs Resort Community
While in Chena Hot Springs, visitors should also visit the Aurora Ice Museum which showcases the artwork of Steve and Heather Brice who are champion ice carvers. The museum is made from more than 1,000 tons of ice and snow and is the largest all-year-round ice environment in the world. All the ice and snow used in the museum is collected from the resort. Some of the amazing ice sculptures in the museum include;
- A pair of life-size jousters on the back of a horse
- A giant chess set
- A Christmas tree bedroom
- A polar bear
After touring the museum, visitors can also take some time to relax in the Aurora Ice Bar. In here, cocktails are served in a martini glass made from ice.
3. The World Ice Art Championships
Unfortunately, however, organizers recently announced that the 2018 version of the World Ice Art Championship would not take place. However, the event will return in 2019.
4. Visit Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
The vintage car collection at the Museum includes more than 80 vehicles including classics from the 30's, horseless carriages, steamers, electric cars, cyclecars, speedsters and even midget racers. The collection even includes an 1898 Hay Motor Vehicle, 1906 Compound and a 1920 Argonne among other rarities. It is also interesting to note that that most of the vehicles are still in operating condition. This means people can get to live history.
During winters, the museum opens on Wednesdays and Sundays from noon to 6 pm.
5. Dog Mushing
Things To Do In Anchorage
1. Visit the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
The museum remains open even during winters. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesdays to Thursdays and on Saturdays. On Fridays, it remains open until 9 pm while on Sundays it opens from noon to 6 pm.
Other museums in Anchorage include the Alaska Veterans Museum, Alaska Naturally, Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature among others.
2. The Annual Anchorage Folk Festival
4. Dog Sledding
5. The Fur Rondy Festival
The festival takes place over ten days with up to 100 events taking place. These include activities such as;
- Outhouse Races
- A native arts market
- A Snow Sculpture competition
- A sled dog race
- Running of the Reindeer
- Dog weight pull competition
- World ice bowling championships
- Snowshoe Softball
With all these events and more Fur, Rondy is a fun-filled winter festival for all ages.
6. Ride on a Snowmobile
Some of the best locations for snowmobiling in/near Anchorage include;Chugach State Park which offers spectacular views of Eagle River Valley and upper Cook Inlet. The best locations within the park include the Bird Creek trail, Eklutna Lake Valley and South Fork of Campbell Creek among others.
- The Mat-Su Borough
- Hatcher Pass
- Nancy Lake State Recreation Area/Willow
- Big Lake
Tourists can also travel to Anchorage in mid-February to experience the Iron Dog. This is the longest snowmobile race in the world and stretches a good 2,000 miles.
7. Northern Lights Viewing
Nonetheless, Anchorage has some of the best viewing locations in Alaska. These include places such as;
- Sheep Mountain Lodge
- Eagle River Nature Center
- Alyeska Resort
8. Wildlife Viewing
Moose are also quite common in Anchorage during the winter and visitors should expect to encounter them often. Experts estimate that up to 1,500 moose flock into Anchorage in the winter.
What To Do In Juneau
In truth, many snow sports enthusiasts will agree that Juneau is one of the best locations for snow sports. Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and even ice-skating are all ideal sports in Juneau during the winter. Visitors to Juneau can;
1. Visit the Alaskan Brewing Company
2. Mendenhall Glacier
3. Eaglecrest Ski Area
There is no shortage of things to do and places to visit during winter in Alaska. It is also worth noting that aside from the outdoors and winter-festivals, Alaskan winter vacations also offer the chance for activities such as shopping and sampling Alaskan cuisine among others. It is never a wrong time to plan a trip to the Alaskan frontier.