So long Summer, it’s been great having you around.
It’s safe to say the last few months have been incredible, and anyone who gets to experience Alaska during the Summer would agree. The long sunny days, the smell of the forest when it rains, and incredibly temperate conditions make exploring this wonderful state absolutely breathtaking. But the seasons are starting to turn, and Winter is getting ready to settle in…in all its white and snowy glory. Obviously different in many ways, an Alaskan Winter is amazing too, with still TONS of stuff to do. Everything will certainly require more gear and more planning, but options for exploring and adventuring are endless.
So get your warm clothes out, grab your winter gear, and get ready to see more and do more than ever before. Not sure where to start? How about with our top 5 things we love about an Alaskan Winter?
#1 – Abundant Options for Winter Sports
Downhill skiing and snowboarding, access to miles and miles of trails for cross country skiing, accessible trails for snowshoeing, day-long adventures via snowmachine…the list goes on. Anchorage for example features a reliably maintained and groomed urban trail system that runs through the city, making accessing and enjoying the outdoors convenient with tons of opportunities to stay active during the Winter months. Couple this with easy access to pristine backcountry, and you will understand why people from around the world love Alaska as a Winter sports playground with world-class experiences.
#2 The Northern Lights
Viewing the Aurora Borealis is a bucket list item for many, and a favorite childhood memory for many Alaskan locals. There is nothing quite like standing under a clear sky and watching the lights above swish and sway, feeling a sense of peacefulness and in absolute awe of nature. It is during the Winter months the Northern Lights are viewable and offers a unique joy of welcoming in the Winter months.
Although – finding the best spot to view the Northern Lights can sometimes feel like a scavenger hunt, here are a couple reliable options:
- Check out Flattop Mountain in Anchorage, which offers an elevated view over the city, and darker skies to get a clear view of the aurora. Near the parking lot there is also a trailhead that takes you a short and darker walk to see the lights a bit brighter.
- Just outside the city in Eagle River, make sure to check out Beach Lake, which is a nice little spot away from light pollution and great viewing of the sky and the northern lights.
- For the true northern lights viewing experience, Fairbanks is the go-to spot. We love Borealis Basecamp for the most unique and memorable Northern Lights viewing experience you can find.
#3 Hot Springs! Hot Springs! Hot Springs!
Winter time is really the best time to enjoy a nice warm and relaxing dip in a thermal pool. Maybe after a long day of adventuring outdoors, or just a nice way to unwind at the end of the day. There really isn’t a bad time or reason to enjoy a hot spring, but during the Winter makes the experience extra enjoyable. While there are tons of options around the state, our favorite go-to’s include Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, and the new Nordic Spa in Girdwood
#4 Winter Events
Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean the fun stops, and in fact we love all the unique events that happen in the Winter time. The Iditarod is iconic and a truly unique Alaskan experience. The Anchorage Fur Rondy is just a ton of fun, and right downtown. Plus with all the great holiday events that happen around the state, it feels like you are living in a Winter wonderland postcard for 3 months out of the year.
#5 Because Off-Season
Winter in Alaska means cold, which also means – less tourists. No cruise ships. No masses of ‘Lower 48-ers’ clogging the roads, ports, bistro lines and parking spots. Traveling around is easier with less people on the roads and in the queues. Hotels and car rentals are cheaper. The National Parks are less crowded. The Winter kind of feels like Alaska for Alaskans again.