Alaska northern lights

Most visitors come to Alaska in the summertime  to see ‘the land of the midnight sun’, enjoy a temperate climate, and perhaps catch some salmon along the way. 

It’s a beautiful place, but the beauty doesn’t end with autumn, in fact, it’s only just beginning. 

midnight sun in cold Alaska

Perhaps it’s the attitude of the locals, where snowfall doesn’t mean clogged streets with impossible parking, but rather a chance to ski, snowmobile, or snowshoe.

In Alaska the elements don’t provide a hindrance to living but rather bring about a whole new dimension and look to the state. 

alaska panorama in winter

Dressing for winter is essential. But don’t think you need to buy your Alaskan winter clothes in your hometown. Instead, buy them in Alaska.

From what you will save in hotel bills, you can purchase a great coat, boots, and long underwear and still be ahead financially. 

Retail prices in Alaska are comparable with the lower 48. Getting your clothes up north will save you a suitcase, and no one knows how to dress warmly in Alaska like Alaskans. 

skiing in alaska

While the Northern Lights can be seen all year long, it’s in the winter that the ‘fire in the sky’ is most often seen.

Tourists from Japan come to Alaska in the winter just so they can see and experience the Aurora Borealis, and some believe that getting married beneath the lights is good luck.  

skilifts

The North Pole and South Pole, because of their magnetic fields, are the most common places to see these spectacular displays of solar charged particles. You won’t see these during the summer as it is too light during the night to see them.

The best viewing months are September and March, and the best time to see them is between midnight and 5:00 am. You can actually hear them crackle in the sky! Be sure to get out of Anchorage to see them, however, as the city lights can obscure their beauty. 

watching sunset

Alyeska is the ski resort of choice at just a 30 minute drive south of Anchorage. The lodge provides luxury accommodations, while the slopes and views are amazing. If you think the best skiing is in Colorado or Utah, you must try Alaska.  

Here’s a quick video with my 7 year old taking you down a few of his favorite runs:

Hotels in Alaska cost less in the winter, too. Room rates drop dramatically, and it’s easier to get a suite or and upgrade. Typical Anchorage room rates go from $225 per night in the summer to $90 per night in the winter. 

cold dog in Alaska

The view is different in the winter in Alaska. The snow on the mountains is beautiful; many of the lakes and inlets are frozen over.

Moose come out to forage, and there is much less chance of running into a bear should you go out on the trails.

Instead of walking or biking the trails, you can also cross-country ski – a much better work out – and you will have plenty of coastline, mountains, and forests to take in along the way.

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One Comment

  1. Annie Henry with adventure of the day says:

    What breath-taking pictures! You gave a great sum up of touring Alaska in the winter. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska — it’s been a dream my mom and I have shared for a while now — but never thought of visiting in the winter. The price difference of hotels between the summer and the winter was surprising, but definitely something to take advantage of. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to visit some day and see the Northern Lights. Great article, I’ll keep an eye out for more of your travel posts!

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