Even though Alaska is America's largest state, it's not one that usually comes immediately to mind when thinking about winter vacations. That should change, however.
Alaska is home to diverse terrains and wildlife that will provide countless opportunities for jaw-dropping to all visitors. Despite its frigid temperatures in the winter, there's still so much to see and do that many people won't mind the cold.
Are you considering taking a winter trip to The Last Frontier? Continue reading and we'll walk you through the best things to do in Alaska in the winter.
Check Out the Northern Lights
Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, are bursts of red and green photons that light up Alaska's night sky. Thousands of people visit Alaska each year just for this spectacle.
The viewing season for the Northern Lights is quite long, lasting around seven months. People can view the lights usually from mid-August to mid-April. Going in winter is a great time because it's darker for extended periods of time.
The more north you travel, the more likely you're going to be able to get a more clear view. Cities like Fairbanks are excellent viewing places. Although people watching in Southeast Alaska can get a view, conditions are usually not as ideal.
Something that just about everyone thinks about when they think of Alaska is dog mushing. Home to the well-known Iditarod race, dog mushing has a long and storied history in Alaska.
Snowy conditions make for ideal dog sledding conditions so it's best to go in the middle of winter. Dog mushing is a thrilling opportunity for people love dogs, the great outdoors, and unique experiences.
Bear Viewing Tour
There are three types of bears in Alaska: brown bear, polar bear, and black bear. The best way to get a glimpse of these majestic animals is by going on an actual bear viewing tour.
These tours typically last a few days and involve bear watching as well as marine activities such as kayaking and small boat excursions.
Visit Chena Hot Springs
Want to heat up among the blankets of snow? Take a dip into the Chena Hot Springs. About 60 miles east of Fairbanks, the hot springs are the perfect place to relax with friends and family.
Adults 18 and older can hang out in the natural hot springs while families with younger children can soak in the indoor pool or outdoor hot tub. Because it's so close to Fairbanks, you can hang in the springs while also watching the dancing lights of aurora borealis.
Snowboard or Ski in Girdwood
A lot of the land in Alaska is unoccupied wilderness. So if you want to go snowboarding or skiing at an established location, you have a handful of options. The town of Girdwood is one of the most popular places to ski thanks to its ideal weather conditions and beautiful scenic vista. The town sits on the coastline of a glacier-carved valley thus offering beautiful views. Girdwood takes about 50 minutes to drive to from Anchorage. More adventurous skiers may want to try out heli-skiing. That's when you start at the top of a slope that can only be reached by helicopter.
Go Ice Skating on Westchester Lagoon
Westchester Lagoon is a lake surrounded by distant mountains and forests. And it's only a quick 15-minute walk from Anchorage.
If you don't have your own ice skates on you, there's no need to fret. You can rent a pair at Play It Again Sports in Anchorage. A family-friendly location, Westchester Lagoon is popular among toddlers, grandparents, and everyone in between.
Every Saturday from January to early March they have "Family Skate" from 1 to 3 p.m. There, visitors can play enjoy games, refreshments, free skating instructions, and different themes.
Sled in Hatcher Pass
No matter the time of year, Hatcher Pass is a must-see destination for anyone visiting America's 49th State. It's a wild area of mountains and valleys and all sorts of diverse and beautiful wildlife.
You can easily access the area from either Willow or Palmer. Be sure to check it out in the winter and bring a sled with you.
Speeding down the hills at Hatcher Pass is a lot of fun. Most visitors like to sled from the Independence Mine parking lot. There's a $5 fee to park at the lot for the day.
Take a Flightseeing Tour
It might seem a little scary to people who have never flown on a small plane before. But once you're floating through summits, over glaciers and swaths of white snow, your fear will quickly turn into awe and wonder.
As wonderful as seeing Alaska from the ground is, it's nothing compared to seeing it from the sky. Flightseeing tours in Alaska usually run year-old as long as the weather conditions are fair.
Looking for The Best Things to Do in Alaska in the Winter
As we can see, there are all kinds of things to do in Alaska in the winter. Whether you're an adventurer or just looking to post some jealousy-inducing photos to your Instagram, there's something in this beautiful State for everyone to enjoy.
Just make sure to dress warm and plan ahead. Weather isn't the most predictable thing in Alaska so it's always good to have a backup plan if certain events or adventures become unavailable.
Want to get started planning your dream Alaska vacation? Contact us today to learn more!