Adventures & Auroras
While a lot of regions are coy about their snowfall and the fun to be found under blankets of white, Anchorage has plenty to boast. Alaska’s favourite winter activities are all right here.
The northern lights shimmer over Alaska, signature events make Anchorage the hottest place to be and unrivalled outdoor adventures on skis, skates, and sleds fill the days from November to April. Whether you want to play in the snow, curl up next to the fireplace or celebrate winter in classic Alaska form, Anchorage is the perfect winter destination.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is one of Alaska’s iconic winter events, and the excitement traditionally starts in Anchorage on the first Saturday of March each year. The race start is set for Anchorage on March 5, 2022 — marking the 50th anniversary of the “Last Great Race.”
A Downtown Start for Iditarod
The traditional Iditarod course begins on Fourth Avenue at D Street and runs all the way to Campbell Creek Science Center. Onlookers get a close-up view of the teams. Spectators flock to the start line downtown or stake out a spot further down the 11-mile route through Anchorage. After a restart at Willow the following day, Iditarod mushers and their dogs battle the elements and test their own limits across the trail. The course stretches approximately 1,000 miles, from Southcentral Alaska to the town of Nome.
Alpine skiing in Alaska is outrageous; high mountaintops situated at sea level create some of the best snow conditions Mother Nature can offer.
Skiers and snowboarders have three choices for alpine skiing within 45 minutes of downtown Anchorage – all of which offer stunning views, something for every skill level, and the most awesome terrain found anywhere. The long season includes enough daylight to ski for an average of 7.5 hours a day in December and a stunning 16 hours a day in April.
Anchorage is one of the best bases from which to chase aurora. Many of the prime locations are easily accessed from the city. There are plenty of Anchorage guides with an eye for those magical lights. Mild winter temperatures keep everyone comfy. And once the sun rises, Anchorage offers plenty of other ways to wow.
How to Find the Aurora
Catching the aurora can be as easy as looking up at the stars. Going with an expert can help increase your odds, unlock the best vantage points, give you an extra set of eyes to watch conditions, and tap into the local expertise of someone passionate about pursuing the aurora. Below are just a few prime aurora viewing spots and guides focused on northern lights in the winter.
With these winter itineraries, there’s no time to hibernate. Take advantage of what makes Anchorage special: the northern lights, plenty of snow, and plenty of cozy urban amenities. Whether your travels are fuelled by high-octane or hot cocoa, these ideas will get you moving in winter.
How do Alaskans get two-wheeled traction in winter? Winter biking, either on fat tire bikes or with studded tires, opens up a winter wonderland to cyclists. Float across glittering snow while fat tire biking or venture across frozen lakes and rivers on bicycles with studded tires.
Winter bikes gained prominence in Alaska in 1987 with the first winter bike race along the Iditarod trail. But in the last 5 years, winter biking has taken off with everyone from commuters to backcountry explorers. Best of all, year-round rentals are available locally for anyone ready to give it a try. The city and local cross-country ski organisation maintain 130 miles along 40 different trails within metro limits, making Anchorage a great place for winter biking. Additionally, Chugach State Park has several trails open for winter biking.