13 Alaska Winter Travel Tips To Get Smitten With The Season

Embrace the Magic of Alaska's Winter Wonderland

 By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

Living The Alaska Life comes with plenty of extremes. Braving the long, dark, cold fury of ole' man winter can be one of the most treacherous love/hate relationships that Alaskans put up with. But in a place where the state flag features a constellation, we are feeling overwhelmingly positive that your year-round "best life" is destined to be written in the stars. The glowing northern lights, peaceful fishing holes, spectacular displays of stillness and the slow-moving moose munching are just a few reasons why the Last Frontier offers a winter season that it's impossible not to be smitten with. So bundle up and enjoy. Then, we'd love for you to share with us your favorite winter activities and travel tips that you live by!

Flickr - Elizabeth Haslam

1 – Enjoy the stillness. Subzero temps create the most calm, transcending landscape that you'll ever witness. This is as "winter wonderland" as it gets. Take time to sit back and smell the metaphorical frozen roses, 'cause they are SWEET! You'll have plenty of time to rat-race once the midnight sun returns, so remember that winter is for hibernating & enjoy the slow + cozy comforts. 

Flickr - Paul Weeks

2 – There is no better time to enjoy the official state sport of Alaska than in the winter, with a dog sledding adventure! Catch the ultimate winter rush as you zoom through the spectacular snowy vistas being pulled by some of the fastest (and cutest) pups on planet earth. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetimes experiences that Alaska locals and visitors alike will wholeheartedly enjoy! For more fun, be sure to attend Fur Rondy and the Iditarod each year for even more dog mushing love. 

Facebook - Arctic Warrior

3 – Alaska is, like... REALLY big. We're talking, the entire state of Texas could fit inside Alaska, twice. So when the cold flurries aren't really jiving well with your weather preference, take a vacation to... Alaska! Southeast Alaska is a region unlike any other that offers a vastly different landscape. There are cities here that go all year without even seeing a dusting of snow. After living in Interior or even Southcentral Alaska, a quick & easy trip to the panhandle really does feel like a toasty treat! For a real thrill, check out Alaska's Admiralty Island (home to the highest density of brown bears in North America). Fortress of the Bear is another gem totally worth discovering! You'll love the lush temperate rainforest views of the Tongass National Forest, at 16.7-million-acres this is the largest national forest in the United States and can be found all throughout the region. 

Flickr - Gillfoto

4 – Did you know that moose populations actually increase during the winter months in some of the more populated areas, when wildlife head to lower elevations to find food. Think, "the path of least resistance" such as wetlands and marshes where there might be more greens for the moose to munch on. Or often times, right in your backyard - "up close and personal!" So, spotting spectacular wildlife in a magical winter setting is actually quite common in Alaska and a great reason to love the season.  

Flickr - landbridge

5 – Fishing fanatics, rejoice! Summer fishing in Alaska has a way of encompassing that "combat" vibe but during the chilly winter months, fishing feels like a truly peaceful paradise. It sure does make reeling in your fresh catch all that more rewarding when you have to patiently wait for the hook-set. Kick off your adventure with this great read: Ice fishing Interior Alaska - Targeting the "Big Three" Interior Lakes

Flickr - Public Affairs office of Fort Wainwright

6 – Bundle up, buttercup! Remember this philosophy, and you'll be set: "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear." While this Alaska city might be the worst dressed in America, we think that is actually quite the accolade for being so smart and dressing for practicality, rather than to make a fashion statement. Plus, if these teenie tiny Alaska kids can fearlessly brave the elements, the rest of us really have no excuse not to! 

Flickr - Bureau of Land Management Alaska

7 – Embrace the season in full-force by winter camping under the northern lights. We know, this is not for the faint of heart. But it's just one "sleep" and so worth it when the aurora borealis is forecasted to be bright & brilliant! This is the best way to experience the show of a lifetime without breaking the bank on lodging (although there are lots of affordable off-season rates during the winter, too). Make sure your gear is on-point and you dress in ample amounts of layers, this is fun but can be ferociously dangerous if you're not properly prepared. 

Flickr - Paxson Woelber

8 – Take your Vitamin D anyway you can get it! All those cold, dark winter days will give you major sun-guilt if you spend any of your "good days" inside. When the sun is shining, chase the rays! If you're needing something extra to beat the "SAD" (seasonal affective disorder) and stay smiling, invest in a "happy light" and you'll be outfitted like a true Alaskan in no time. 

Flickr - Laura Avellaneda-Cruz

9 – Plan to add some extra time on to your commute. Not only for inclimate weather, but for the most magical traffic jams of your lifetime. Caribou herds migrating, bald eagles soaring above. Slow down and soak in these amazing views! It's also not uncommon to also see dog mushing teams flying by on the side of the road as you wind through the snowy winter landscapes. 

Flickr - JLS Photography - Alaska 

10 – Invest in a DARN GOOD camera. Because with views like this, you don't want to miss a thing. On the daily winter landscapes are proven to mesmerize even the most seasoned Alaskans. 

Flickr - Paxson Woelber

11 – Take it outside! Your arguments, that is. Cabin fever can bring out the weird in all of us, no denying that. Guaranteed you'll spend more time cuddling and less time complaining when you have the bitter chill of ole' man winter keeping you humble. 

Flickr - GPA Photo Archive, Robert Dreeszen

12 - You don't have to go far to "escape the crowds" and get away from it all. The roads can be rough (and much more dangerous during the icy spells), but your weekend getaway doesn't have to involve going too far. Pick an outing that within a handful of miles from your home, even a park down the block, and you'll be surprised by how winter can totally transform the experience. 

Flickr - JLS Photography Alaska

13 - Back breaking work is seriously for the birds! If you can save up and spring for a snow blower, doooooo it! Your entire body will be thanking you later, we promise! Alaska has had some of the most intense recorded snowfall records on the planet. May you remember that one time Alaska received over 7 feet of snow (more than 83 inches) in just three days, which totally buried the town of Valdez.

Flickr - JLS Photography Alaska 

Oh and one more thing... if you have a good sense of humor, it'll get you through anything! 

Flickr - JLS Photography - Alaska

Looking for another great read? Check out these 10 things that'll make you have a love/hate relationship with Alaska. You might also enjoy this Alaska city that was voted the worst dressed in America. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up being featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley 

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