In Alaska, the fun doesn’t stop when the temps drop! Alaska in February can be a surreal, full-on winter experience. The beauty of winter in Alaska is unrivaled. Imagine: gorgeous white snow blanketing the countryside, quiet dark nights with the northern lights dancing overhead, and cozy nights in front of the fireplace with a warm drink.
There are many outdoor sports and attractions available only during the winter. To help you choose, we’ve rounded up the 7 best winter activities in Alaska when planning your next vacation.
The chance to witness the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is the main reason most visitors come to Alaska in the winter. Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, is still one of the best places to view the Aurora in Alaska. Anchorage is also a fantastic place to start. It offers mild winter temperatures and some of the best Aurora chasers in the world. If you want to improve your chances of seeing the Northern Lights during your visit, stay as many nights as you can and plan your trip around a new moon.
Dog sledding is an Alaskan tradition that remains an active part of its culture. The iconic race celebrated every March is The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Mushers, someone who rides behind a team of sled dogs, often open their homes to visitors, and some backcountry winter lodges will even transport you to their properties via dog sled for a truly unique Alaska experience.
Grab your helmet and venture through the woods and on the frozen lakes. Snowmobiling can take you to places in the remote backcountry that no car can reach. It will give you the chance to see glaciers up close, ice caves, and wildlife like lynx, moose, and rock ptarmigan. You might even see wolf packs!
With ski resorts averaging over 600 inches of snow, Alaska’s thick snow pack, breathtaking views, and unique terrain make it the perfect destination for downhill, cross-country, and heli skiing. The biggest ski resort in Alaska, Alyeska Resort, is just 40 miles from Anchorage in the town of Girdwood.
Plenty of glacier-fed ice caves are found in Alaska’s wide open spaces. Ice caves can be described as an enchanting and surreal place - a world of a thousand shades of blue, naturally shaped by flowing water over centuries. The carvings are hit by light and emit beautiful turquoise reflections. Some of the popular ice caves in Alaska are Matanuska Glacier Cave, Spencer Glacier, Chugach National Forest, and Mendenhall Ice Caves.
The nature of glaciers make ice caves unstable and dangerous, so never venture into an ice cave without a guide. And don’t forget your camera!
Alaska’s beautiful summer lakes turn to magical ice skating rinks in the winter once the water freezes over. You’ll have a backdrop of snow-covered mountains, and even glaciers, to make the experience unforgettable. Your options for ice skating in Alaska in the winter are seemingly boundless, with outdoor hockey rinks at local parks, neighborhood skate ponds, and even an Olympic-sized outdoor speed skating track.
Ice fishing makes for a unique and enjoyable way to spend time with friends and family. You only need basic equipment to get started - an ice auger, a fishing rod (and license), and some bait. Ice fishing is possible on the lakes and rivers in much of mainland Alaska from December to March, with more than 80 frozen lakes and the opportunity to catch landlocked salmon, trout, char, pike, burbot, and more.
And one last tip! Don’t forget to bring warm winter clothing that allows you to dress in layers. Alaska’s low winter humidity can take the edge off, but the frigid temperatures and winter sports may require extra layers or specialized winter gear. For more tips on how to dress for winter sports, see our winter clothing guide.
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