Alaska In Winter
Alaska is out of this world. From the very get-go, after spending my first 15- minutes on ground, I knew this would be one of my favourite states even having visited in the heart of February along with being a gal from the islands.
Located northwest of Canada, Alaska is the largest and the least populated U.S. state for its size. Known for its diverse terrain, mountains, forests and many things outdoors, it is home to also North America’s highest peak.
Whilst winter in Alaska is somewhat regarded as “low-season” from a tourist perspective, there are a few top things that travellers visit the area for during the heart of winter. Here are 10 must do’s things when visiting Alaska in winter.
1. Drive Along the Seward Highway
Named as one of the top 5 scenic routes in the U.S, it is quite a shoe to fill having another 49 states to compete with. With a 2-hr drive south of Anchorage, the Seward Highway the views of the ice-capped mountains are endless.
Pass between the shorelines of Turnagain Arm and the jutting peaks of the Chugach Mountains. This is also a route that can be done in the summertime, but which a whole different perspective and personally during winter in Alaska.
The Seward Highway drive continues through the Kenai Peninsula which is famous for its outdoorsy activities.
2. Try The Alaskan King Crab Legs
The ideal fishing season for Alaska King Crab legs is often times during the early part of winter. Known as one of the (if not the most) Alaskan dishes to try, if this wasn’t on your list of things to eat, add it to your list fast.
Known to have the best King Crab Legs throughout the country, travellers and seafood lovers make use of the opportunity to try the King Crab Legs in Alaska when visiting. If you are thinking of visiting Alaska in winter, be sure to try the Crab Legs, fresh from ocean to plate.
The price range is usually whatever the market price is at that time.
via Kristi Trimmer
Where to Try: Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage
3. See the Northern Lights
Otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis. If there is anything that will be a deciding factor for you to visit the Arctic region in the middle of February, I have no doubts that the Northern Lights will. With the Northern Lights being only visible during the winter season, it is usually a bucket-list item for travellers visiting the region during this time.
Though, the northern lights can be seen in Anchorage with just a couple of hours drive outside of the city, the most reliable chances in seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights are in Fairbanks and north of that region.
If you visit Alaska in November, December or January, you will experience a very short period of daylight providing a unique experience in the high northern hemisphere.
Recommended Tour Agency: Greatland Adventures
4. Ski or Snowboard at the Alyeska Ski Resort
The Alyeska Ski Resort is located off the Seward Highway with just about a 45-minutes drive south of Anchorage. Aside from the snow-capped slopes, the views are astonishing. This ski resort also gives you the chance to ride the tram to take in an array of views and mountains.
If you’d like to opt out on the skiing and snowboarding activities, you can ride the tram up the slope with an entry+ meal ticket for a total of $39 during the winters. The price may vary during the different seasons.
If you visit on a Friday, be sure to try the local mystery drink called Frizz which is served in a separate bar & lounge restaurant.
5. Do a Bit Of Ice Climbing
If for some reason you’ll be hanging around the Anchorage region and you’d like to give ice climbing a go, then you at luck. Anchorage, Alaska is known to have an array of frozen waterfalls which ideal for the adventure.
6. Take A Scenic Train Ride with The Alaskan Railroad
The Alaskan Railroad is an alternative for those who’d like to explore the Last Frontier up close and personal without having to drive. For those are not accustom to the weather changes and the weather conditions can hop on board the Alaska Railroad. It is incredibly scenic and some of the best views can be seen while on board.
During the winter season, the train heads north from Anchorage connecting Talkeetna, and Fairbanks. However, it runs on weekends and selected mid-week dates. Make sure to research and book in advance.
7. See the Ice Art Cravings in Fairbanks
While in Fairbanks during the winter season be sure to check out the expressive ice carvings.
The ice craving exhibition is usually held from late February to the end of March. The bigger-than-life-sized ice sculptures are lovely in the daytime and exquisite at night when they are lit with coloured lighting. Same day retry is allowed which allow visitors to see the sculptures during these two different times.
8. Go On a Scenic Helicopter Ride
During my visit to Alaska just over a week ago, ever so often I would see and hear smaller planes flying over. I couldn’t help but think how popular this tour might have been. Small scenic plane rides fit no more than 5-9 passengers and are meant to give you an unforgettable experience.
Flying through the mountain ranges with overhead views of the glaciers and the Alaska wilderness doesn’t come at a cheap rate. With prices starting at $220 per person, flying with either Talkeetna Air Taxi or K2 Aviation, out of Talkeetna, both companies specialize in seeing Denali (North American’s highest mountain peak) up close and personal in addition to glacier landing.
The glaciers in Denali National Park are known to be like no other and is highly recommended to your flightseeing tour to understand perfectly why the icefields attract people from all over.
9. Warm up at the Chena Hot Springs
I always recommend travelling with swimwears even when you are on your way to the Arctic region. With average winter temperature in Alaska being easily below zero (between -12C/10F & -21C/-0F) taking a dip in the Chena Hot Springs Resort is the perfect way to warm up. Located east of Fairbanks, a stopover at the Chena Hot Springs Resort is a way to unwind and relax.
A day pass costs $12 for kids and $15 for adults.
Image via Otts World
10. Relax, Recharge & Rejuvenate
Aside from trying to pack all the outdoorsy things to do on your list, Alaska during the winter is also a good spot to relax, recharge and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
It’s vase terrain and climate is exotic enough on its own. Spending a few days, weeks, months here in the winter is definitely a bucket-list item in itself.