March 27, 2023
Hey, so you’ve heard a lot about Alaska or I’ve exposed you to it so much that I’ve sparked some interest in you to find out a bit more? I have posted endless photos and reels about Alaska since I first step foot onto the Alaska terrain one year ago on New Year’s Eve.
Well not only do I advise for you to visit Alaska, and seriously, add it to your bucket list, but I really advise you to visit in winter! Yes, you heard that right, winter!
Now, hear me out, Alaska is not all what you imagined—I know because I used to picture tundra and bears and mountains and driving through terrain up high while scaring the living daylights out of myself and all I could think was – there is no way! Well, I’m here to tell you, babe – Alaska is not exactly that. Yes, there is a lot of the above mentioned but not exactly as you picture it. So let’s dive in and let me show you why you should reconsider. A lot of people know I am obsessed with Alaska. But let me explain why. I’m going to touch more on Anchorage and the Fairbanks area and all the winter-y activities there is to do there. If you’re an adventurous solo traveler, yes – you can do it on your own and I have but not everyone is as excited to go out in harsh weather and drive on highways with snow and ice by themselves. It can be pretty scary and I know I’ve had my moments!
Picture dog sledding, snowmobiles, skiing or hiking glaciers. What about frozen waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife. Yes, it’s hard to imagine and seems so out of reach but you can join me and we can do this adventure together and I’m here to tell you, you won’t regret it one bit! Alaska is one of the most majestic places on earth and there’s a reason it’s my number one favorite place!
Come with me, let me show you around Alaska!
Let’s start with the obvious question.
How cold is it?
Okay, it’s definitely cold if you’re not from an area that dips down to the single digits or less. But Anchorage can be “milder” than Chicago from what I’ve heard. Fairbanks can be about 20-30 degrees colder and definitely a little more brutal requiring one to plug in their cars to avoid their car battery dying.
Preparing and packing
Preparing properly for the weather is key here. Layers, layers, layers.
- Sweatshirts/base layer or thermal
- windproof or fleece-lined pants or snow pants
- thick socks
- winter waterproof boots
- Parka or heavy coat
- Hat, gaitor/scarf, thicker gloves
- Getting around
Renting a car is best. Ubers are expensive and there is so much to see and do that renting a car is essential and trust me, you won’t regret it. Turo is a great option too. I highly recommend nothing smaller than an SUV with 4WD.
Sunrise/Sunset during winter
During winter and after the winter solstice, you gain 4 minutes or so of sunlight daily. So gradually, the days get longer. During January, you can expect the sun to rise around 10/10:30am and set around 3:30/4:00pm. Alaska has some of the prettiest skies and you can expect to see so many color changes in the sky day-by-day.
Where to stay
In my personal humble opinion, stay in mid-town at a hotel in Anchorage or rent an Airbnb for your stay. A hotel would most likely include breakfast so keep that in mind. In Fairbanks, I love Pikes Waterfront Lodge. It’s quirky and screams, “Alaska gold rush days”!
Drive slowly as you get acclimated and keep your 4wd on. Keep a distance between cars and easy on the turns. Just use common sense. When I would see a line of cars behind me, I would move over to outlook points to let the cars pass me. Takes the pressure off of having to go faster. Slow down because moose are huge and they rise high on their legs. It can come through the windshield if you were to strike one. Be cautious – I saw one running in opposite direction on the hwy recently.
Highlights and must sees – The fun stuff!
- Dog Sledding
- Skiing / snowboarding
- Helicopter rides
- Glacier hikes
- Dog sledding
- Skiing / snowboarding
- Helicopter rides
- Glacier hikes
- Denali National Park is not accessible in winter
This is just a little glimpse into what there is to do and see. This place is a winter wonderland with captivating scenery everywhere! It is truly an astounding place. You can explore as a solo traveler or join one of my group trips for wild winter adventure that will leave you wanting more!
Let’s explore what my group trip to Alaska would look like. Remember, this is totally dependent on weather so things may need to be changed or cancelled at a moment’s notice. We’ll be starting with Anchorage and stay tuned for the follow-up post as we continue the adventure through Fairbanks!
Group tour – Anchorage, Alaska Itinerary
Day 1 Arriving in Anchorage, Alaska
On this day, you would be picked up from the airport and taken to your hotel accommodation and settle in and enjoy the beautiful scenic atmosphere! You’re in Alaska now – can you believe it? Keep an eye outside and you may catch a glimpse of a moose walking around. Meet for dinner at a local restaurant to meet and mingle with your travel buddies!
Wild Alaska tip: Always be aware of your surroundings. Check for wildlife and moose before exiting buildings, getting out of your car and while driving. Moose are dangerous especially when they have calves with them. They are 1500-1700 lbs of strength and can trample someone easily. I’ve been told to run behind trees if they come after you.
Day 2 Glacier Hike
On this day we make our way to one of the many glaciers in Alaska for a hike and your first adventure on ice formed thousands of years ago that continuously moves and cracks and changes scenery. Along the way to the glacier we will make a few photo stops for photos if time allows. It’s hard to drive without the urge to stop and gaze at the unbelievable scenery. Nothing prepares you for the beauty you will encounter. It’s so inspiring! We will return in the evening in time for dinner and some relaxation time.
Day 3 Dog sledding / Snowmobiling
Day three is all about rugged adventure and winter wonderlands – literally!
We will make our way to one of many dog mushing operators that offer dog sledding through forests, frozen lakes or open land. If you want to experience snowmobiling, this is your chance! No experience required and It is so much fun as long as you follow rules and direction of your guide. Return to accommodation and meet for dinner.
Fun Alaska tip: Many of the companies that offer dog mushing/dog sledding have been competitors in the yearly Iditarod race. If you are not familiar with the Iditarod race came to be as an effort to preserve the old trail that carried mail from Seward to Nome Alaska. The competition still happens yearly in March and the festivities are held in Anchorage while the start of the race starts in Willow, Alaska.
Day 4 Ski Resort / Conservation Center
We’re heading to do a little sightseeing along one of the many scenic highways in Alaska and we’ll stop for photo opportunities along the way. Keep alert because you may spot an eagle overhead, mountain goats or even moose. We’ll catch glimpses of hard-core adventurers ice climbing the walls of frozen water cascading over the cliffs. I’ve taken some cool photos of frozen waterfalls along the highway as well in the past. We’ll make our way to one of the ski resorts to catch the scenic views from atop the mountain and we have the option to enjoy lunch up there as well.
If time permits you can make our way to the Alaska wildlife Conservation park where you can see the some animals that are native to Alaska including my favorite, Musk Ox! We’ll return to our accommodation and enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant.
Day 5 Shopping and Relaxation Day
Today we will take a slow day to do some shopping for souvenirs, find a mural or two to take photos at or relax and pack for our train ride aboard the Alaska Railroad Winter train to Fairbanks tomorrow! Charge your power bank and get ready for a narrated amazing scenic ride through Alaska as we make our way to Fairbanks. Here you will have several chances to spot moose and other wildlife along the way.
This is a 12-hr ride and offers three meals at a cost. I recommend packing snacks and beverages at the very least. The meals are somewhat costly but definitely a nice experience nonetheless.
If you’re are excited to experience Alaska with me and join my group trip, check it out here!
Stay tuned for the second part of our Alaska Winter Adventure as we continue through Fairbanks, Alaska!