Best Winter Activities in Alaska: Things to Do on Vacation


Some travelers who don’t know better might think that of Alaska mainly for the summer months. But we know you are not those tourists and we know you know there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

So bundle up in all the layers of wool and weatherproof shells for dog sled rides, ice caves, solar powered ice fishing huts, a sauna or hot spring baths, and train rides through the tundra, all under the canopy of the Aurora rather frequent in winter. Borealis.

Read on for some of the best adventures awaiting you this winter.

dog sled
It’s like a Christmas movie, without Santa Claus. | cweimer4 / E + / Getty Images

Dog sledding through snow-capped wilderness, then rest in hot springs and cabanas

Give yourself more than just one attempt to try and catch the Northern Lights as you embark on this four-day / three-night dog sledding adventure through the remote backcountry of Alaska, north of Fairbanks .

Howls of excitement fill the air as you prepare to move your own team of sled dogs on an epic journey through Alaska’s wild interior. The destination of Arctic Dog Adventure Co. is Tolovana Hot Springs, where you’ll spend two nights in a rustic cabin just steps from the Wet Springs.

The 20-mile route sails to the top of ridge lines and flies over vast tundras (where the company dresses you for the occasion). If you’ve never been a pack leader before, don’t worry, the trip includes a full day orientation and a first night in Fairbanks to prepare everyone for a serious (and very rewarding) Arctic adventure.

Do you still feel relaxed? | Arctic beehive

Practice yoga in geodesic igloos under the Northern Lights

The upward facing dog should be a more vantage point than the downward dog, if the Northern Lights radiate their aerial beauty as you stretch your muscles in a geodesic dome.

Arctic beehive is the northernmost yoga studio in the United States, located above the Arctic Circle in Wiseman, Alaska. You will be some 270 miles north of Fairbanks, having traveled the famous Dalton Highway, a long and secluded road with enormous views of the wilderness.

To this yoga retreat, four nights of arctic escape include yoga and meditation classes in igloos with celestial views, dog sledding expeditions and cultural visits to the local village.

Alaska Fishing and Raft Adventures
Don’t worry about the freezing cold: the fishing huts are isolated! | Alaska Fishing and Raft Adventures

Icefish under the Northern Lights

If you’ve ever tried ice fishing in latitudes where you are unlikely to spot the Northern Lights, you might know that this is a cute experience, but can be a bit, shall we say, slow, in especially when the sleeping fish can not bother to bite.

But when you leave Fairbanks to go ice fishing on the Chena Lakes with Alaska Fishing and Rafting Adventures, you cast a line not only for char or arctic grayling swimming under five feet of solid ice beneath your feet, you also chase away the Northern Lights, which could appear outside your comfortable fishing hut at any time. .

Directly on the ice, the cabins are insulated to keep you warm. They are also the first permanent solar-powered fishing cabins in Alaska. So, even if it blows a gust of -40 ° C outside, you will stay warm inside. Opt for a cabin with panoramic windows so that, if the Aurora starts doing its job, you won’t even have to put on your parka and step outside to soak up yourself.

Anything you catch on your line will be cooked up by your guide in the wood-fired oven to take in the view.

Alaska Native Heritage Center
Support the native cultures of Alaska. | Alaska Native Heritage Center

Learn about the many Indigenous cultures in Alaska

There are many ways to experience the ancient traditions of Alaska’s many native groups. Start with the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, where Culture Bearers takes travelers on private two-hour tours to six villages around the mountain-lined Lake Tiulana. From here you can travel with and support Indigenous communities like Northwest Coast Indians, Iñupiaq, Yup’iks, Aleuts, Athabascans, Eyak, Haida, Tsimshians, Tlingit, UnangaxÌ‚ and the Cup’ik.

For an exciting excursion, you can also try observe bears up close in their natural and protected habitat, created and managed by the Alutiiq people. It is a courageous enterprise that feels much more reassured thanks to the knowledgeable guides so familiar with the land.

Alyeska Resort
I could totally do with a sauna right now. | Alyeska Resort

Get your sauna at Alaska’s latest wellness getaway

There is no such thing as a cold weather wellness ritual like a Nordic ritual. And if you can’t make it to Finland this winter for hot saunas and a cold dip, the all-new opening is imminent. Nordic Spa at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, might be the best substitute in the United States.

The opening is scheduled for January 2022, the outdoor and indoor wellness retreat is expected to be a total oasis surrounded by the boreal forest. Spend hours (and the stress of a pandemic) moving between the barrel-shaped sauna, steam room, and hot and cold outdoor and indoor pools.

Do you remember the Hogwarts Express? Yeah, that’s better. | Photo by Sherman Hogue / Explore Fairbanks

Chase the Northern Lights on the Alaska Railroad

When else do you have the chance to get on the rails and look for the Northern Lights?

At Alaska Railroad winter train, you can opt for the gentle but scenic route of the Aurora winter train. Gaze out of the window at the backcountry and an occasional moose on a 12-hour ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks, departing on a Saturday and returning on Sunday. On a clear day, you might even see Denali Mountain from the heat of your passenger car.

To kick things up a notch, the Hurricane Turn Train travels from Anchorage to Hurricane Gulch once a month from October through May along the highest bridge in the entire Alaska rail network. Bring your own food, as there is no catering service on board. If you travel this route, you’re likely to see hardened locals with hunting gear disembarking – whether it’s blue skies or raging blizzards – to flag stop requests along the way, to live for a few weeks. winter (or more) in remote cabins entirely away from the grid. It might make you rethink your own threshold for adventure.

Alaska Helicopter Tours
Panoramic aerial views AND ice climbing? Sign me up. | Alaska Helicopter Tours

Take a helicopter to go ice climbing in the winter, like we do

No ice climbing experience is required to participate in an exciting new helicopter adventure with Alaska Helicopter Tours, departing from Anchorage.

You will receive everything you need – helmet, crampons, ice axes, plastic mountaineering boots and all ropes and gear – to try your hands and feet on ice cave explorations and a rock climbing adventure. on ice on a waterfall. You will only have to manage to take off in the cozy environment of a Robinson 44 with three passengers.

After your freezing cold getaway, hop back in the helicopter and set off for Anchorage in time for a beer at one of our favorite local breweries, like the Anchorage Brewing Company Where Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

northern Lights
It’s hardly better than that. | Flickr / Office of Land Management / Bob Wick

Embark on an iditarod, Arctic Circle flight and Aurora adventure

With 2022 marking the 50th anniversary of the famous Iditarod sled dog race, there will certainly be more than the usual celebrations surrounding this winter’s epic canine and human endurance event.

John Hall’s Alaska Cruises and Tours Offer 11 Day Package Iditarod and Aurora Adventure. Join the mushers at a banquet to mark the official and ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Willow, Alaska. Then, take a flight to experience the racing drama behind the scenes at a remote checkpoint on the course. Then spend two nights at the Borealis Basecamp in Fairbanks and a total of seven nights chasing the Northern Lights. There’s even an Arctic Circle viewing trip included in this unforgettable package.

See you soon on the slopes. | Skeetawk

Ski or ride at a new non-profit ski resort in the Talkeetna Mountains

Alaska’s newest alpine ski resort opened in late 2020, an hour’s drive north of Anchorage at Hatcher Pass in the Mat-Su Valley. With a snow park and a single chairlift of 30, Skeetawk is hardly the gigantic and famous Vail. But what the mountain promises is an intimate Alaskan ski experience that’s accessible to those of us on the lower 48 who are happiest on the green and blue runs. For the most demanding skiers and snowboarders, the mountain has four black diamond tracks. But it’s largely intermediate and beginner terrain here.

Ski with confidence alongside the state’s rugged residents (including many volunteers who helped build the nonprofit resort) and de-ice between the slopes in a multi-purpose yurt at the base of the mountain. Did we mention that lift tickets are only $ 39 per day (take that, Vail), or $ 20 for kids ages 6 to 12?

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Terry Ward is a freelance travel writer in Tampa, Florida who has lived in France, New Zealand, and Australia and has scuba diving all over the world. Follow her on Instagram and see more of her work on


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