Alaska in the Winter – Dogs, Lights & Ice

Alaska is a fantastic destination to visit in the Winter. Well…very late Winter.. a few days from the official start of Spring.

Snow covers the ground for dog sledding and snow shoeing, and temperatures are completely manageable. Temps hovered around the mid 40s during the day and the evenings were in the 20s. We were lucky enough to have sun a few days. We arrived a week after day light savings, so sunset was in the 7:30 p.m. range. These added hours gave us a lot of time to explore! Being in Alaska for Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) was magical.

The trip highlights included the dog mushing, all the different forms of ice and hunting for the Northern Lights.

Day 1 – Arrival in Fairbanks. A nice small modern airport with very little traffic in March.  The town is small with a population of 32k. There are limited number of restaurants. As you can imagine, comfort food is popular. We ate at a Thai restaurants several times. The town has a tired feeling, but the locals were warm & accommodating. The navigation was easy and the roads felt somewhat safe. Although, the rental car company we used did not offer additional insurance in the Winter. 

Day 2 –  Morris Thompson Cultural Center visit for an overview of central Alaska, and a trip down the Dalton Highway to see the Pipeline & a visit to the North Pole. The pipeline was a cool stop & a little hike to stretch our legs. The North Pole is kitschy & a tourist stop..but fun anyhow! Later we were spectators at the International Sprint Dog Racing Championships and the International Ice Art Championships. Exhilarating and intriguing.  Northern light hunting the second night was no luck.

Day 3 – Dog Mushing! We visited a farm where they raise over 50 sled dogs. It was a well-run facility and we learned about the entire process of dog mushing & sledding. The sprinters run up to 100 miles and these dogs are long distance runners. A few had competed in the Iditarod almost 1000 miles! The dogs are bread for certain conditions and are not the typical full-bred husky. Later we continued North to Chena Hot Springs where we hiked and enjoyed the natural hot springs. We hit the luck of the Irish and saw green at midnight on St. Patrick’s Day! Aurora Borealis.

Day 4 – This day we explore Denali National Park by snow shoeing through trails and riding along the main park road. Only 30% of the visitors are lucky enough to see Denali’s Peak at 20,310 feet. We were in the 70%, but were lucky enough to see it on the way home for a few seconds during sunset. Another night of cloud cover hindered our Northern Light hunt.

Day 5 – We slept in after a late night of Northern Lights hunting and then visited The Museum of the North. A wonderful comprehensive museum at University of Alaska at Fairbanks. The weather started to cool down and then a dusting of snow. Just the right time to return to Southern California!

Published by Judy Hughes

I am a small group trip leader for 2 travel clubs. We check out cool and off the beaten path places around the World. Adventure is our specialty. I love to take notes and share the travel tips with you in my blog! Hope you check it out!

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