Six Unique Winter Experiences in Central Alaska


Let us abandon the perceived notion of dreary winters and long-hours of darkness. In actuality, Central Alaska in the winter is a wonderland worth visiting during the coldest months. In the land of extremes, filled with vast wilderness and untamed nature, there are endless places to visit and things to do, and each is unique that it is difficult to find in the other parts of the world. If you plan to unfold the veils of Central Alaska’s winter, here are the top six unique things to do that are promised to make your Alaska trip memorable.

Packing for your Alaska winter trip: Click Here to download the complete packing list ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Northern lights over Chena Hot Springs  

Drive 68 miles outside Fairbanks’ city center to reach Chena Hot Springs Resort, a place famous for natural outdoor springs. When it is under -30 Celsius outside, dip into the outdoor heated pool for a relaxing soak in the healing mineral waters that can accommodate dozens of people at once. For those who wish to observe the Northern Lights, Chena Hot Springs are said to have the minimal light pollution that is perfect for the lights to be highly visible overhead. Basking yourself in the water while watching the northern lights display is an exciting way to enjoy your winter holiday.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

Aurora Borealis over Chena Hot Spring resort, Fairbanks Alaska

Aurora Winter Train

Take a 12-hour train ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage to explore Alaska’s country-side, a place filled with the Denali mountain range, rugged terrain, and endless white solitude that is inaccessible by road. The train even stops at Sarah Palin’s hometown, Wasilla, allowing visitors to take a sneak peek at what her city looks like. Settle-in for a relaxed journey in the glass-domed dining cars for a warm breakfast and a 180 degree of sweeping vistas.  For those who are tired of driving on the snowy and icy highway, Alaska Railroad promises an exciting journey in complete comfort. It is a hassle-free way to experience winter in Central Alaska.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

View from Aurora Winter Train, AK

Meet Santa on Christmas Eve

If you want a handshake with Santa, then a visit to Santa Claus House cannot be skipped. This property was built by Nillie Miller in 1952 with a mission of providing a true Christmas spirit. The Santa Claus House offers a true Christmas ambiance with Christmas toys, ornaments, and a letter walls display letters sent by the children from all over the world. The Santa also writes tailored letters to millions of children to wish them a Merry Christmas. Do not forget to send postcards to your family and friends from Santa’s House with your heart-warming wishes.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

Inside Santa’s house, North Pole, AK| Photo via Flicker

Read more: The Complete Packing Guide for Winter Alaska Trip

World Ice Art Championship

Regarded as one of the largest ice art competitions in the world, the World Ice Art Championship has been held annually at Fairbanks’s Ice Park. The event draws ice carvers, visitors, and volunteers from around the globe. You have the opportunity to browse through the fantastic, intricate pieces of multi-block ice art created by world renowned artists. In addition to appreciating the masterpieces of the ice artists, you have the option to take a quick ice sculpture class, get entertained at the kids’ park, or simply mingle with the artists in the cafeteria. The 2018 World Ice Art Championship starts on February 19.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

Ice Sculpture at Faribanks’s Ice Park, Fairbanks AK

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

The annual long distance Sled Dog Race takes place every March, and it draws the best sled dog mushers and worldwide interest. Covering 11 miles from Anchorage to Nome, the field dog team runs for two weeks and crosses the toughest and wildest terrain Mother Nature has to offer.  In addition to the inclement weather, the sled team has to battle with the total loss of visibility, strong wind, treacherous terrain, and long hours of darkness. It is a wonderful event to showcase the local culture and Alaskan spirit. The 2018 race starts on the 3rd of March, and the temperature is predicted to be below zero over that time.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

Sled Dog Race|Photo credit: Arctic Warrior via Flicker

Packing for your Alaska winter trip: Click Here to download the complete packing list ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Seward Highway

If you are looking for an Alaskan road trip, venture to the Seward Highway. This highway is a 200-kilometer coastal road that connects Anchorage and the coastal community of Seward. Throughout the journey, your visual senses will be bombarded by the pristine inlet, jagged cliffs, wildlife, and the snowy peaks on the Kenai Penninsula. A brief stop on the highway allows you to view the waterfall cascading down the valley; see the snowy mountains meet the sea, and marvel at intrepid locals skiing on Mount Alyeska. The sunset even adds an illusion of a soft glow of a soft glow on the snowy peak. An afternoon stroll along the shores of the Portage Glaciers dates you back to the Ice Age, where you will have a close-up view of humongous icebergs on a frozen Portage Lake. Bring your cameras and fill your memory stick with postcard quality pictures.

Alaska Travel: Six Unique Experience in Central Alaska in the Winter

Seward Highway under the sunset, December 2009

Have you visited central Alaska in the winter before? Share your recommended activities below. 

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6 Unique Things to do in Central Alaska in winter


Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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