When my very sporty friend suggested a trek in the White Mountains north of Fairbanks, I was all for it, if a little scared. The mountains are strikingly beautiful and are usually covered in a layer of the most pristine, perfectly dry powder. I hiked the trails several times during the summer and fall, but had never headed out to play in the mountains when they were covered in their signature snow.
Early Winter is a Great Time for Winter Sports
Early winter is a great time to tackle the outdoors in Alaska’s interior. The temperatures usually don’t drop to the extremes of January and February and there are more daylight hours to play during. The snowdrifts aren’t quite as daunting as they can be in the spring and seasonal depression hasn’t had a chance to dampen anyone’s spirits. I agreed to head out on a White Mountains adventure.
The White Mountains Are Stunning
The one-million-acre White Mountains National Recreation Area is an amazing place to enjoy the winter in Interior Alaska. With over 250 miles of maintained winter trails to explore on snowmachine, snowshoe or ski, the range is an Interior favorite. Many local mushers even run their dog teams through the area. Fourteen public recreation cabins are available to reserve and there are trail shelters to head towards on your adventures.
No matter where you go, you’ll be immersed in jagged limestone mountains and cliffs, high mountain passes and rounded valleys. The crisp, clean air and dazzling views are stunning in the daylight hours, and the shimmering northern lights against a star-studded sky are spectacular during the long winter nights.
From Fairbanks, head north on the Elliot Highway to Wickersham Dome, the access point for 250 miles of snowmachine and ski trails that traverse these glorious mountains. Wickersham Dome lies almost an hour’s drive from downtown Fairbanks, so be sure to fill your vehicle’s fuel tank before you head out. You may need more gas than you think with starting the car to warm it up before you head back. If you need to warm up with a cup of coffee and a smile, you can always stop at the Hilltop Truck Stop anytime you’re headed back to Fairbanks from the White Mountains.
There are so many options to explore the White Mountains there is certainly something for every level. Just take a scenic drive to see the view, spend the day, or plan a week-long backcountry adventure. No matter how you enjoy them, go visit this amazing part of Interior Alaska. You may also want to check out Ice Fishing in Interior Alaska.