Winter in Alaska means snow. Get out and play like the locals with this five-day itinerary that includes a stop at Alaska’s top winter festival, Fur Rendezvous, plus skiing and snowmachining adventures in the state’s snow capital, Valdez.
Day 1 Anchorage
Time your visit to take advantage of Anchorage’s liveliest winter festival: Fur Rendezvous, a 10-day celebration of all things fur and frolic. Events include sled dog races, carnival rides, a snow-sculpting competition, an Alaska Native arts market, and zany athletic events like outhouse races and the Running of the Reindeer, in which humans and reindeer sprint through downtown streets together.
Day 2 Hatcher Pass and Palmer or Wasilla
Make the 40-mile drive north to the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the alpine beauty of Hatcher Pass. Once home to a booming gold mine, this area is a popular winter destination for sledding, snowshoeing, skiing and snowmobiling or as they call it in Alaska, snowmachining. On your way back to Anchorage, drive through either Palmer, a former New Deal-era agricultural colony filled with interesting history, or Wasilla, where you can visit the headquarters of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Day 3 Valdez
Take a regional flight to Valdez, a true winter city that is annually blanketed in more than 300 inches of snow. Check out the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive and its exhibits that reflect the history of Valdez, the Copper River Valley and Prince William Sound from the earliest days when Alaska Natives first occupied the area. Don’t miss the museum annex, which contains dioramas depicting the growth of Old Town Valdez before it was all but obliterated by the magnitude-9.2 Good Friday Earthquake of 1964.
Day 4 Valdez
Explore the coastal mountains that give Valdez its nickname of “Little Switzerland” on a full-day guided snowmachine adventure or, if you have the skills, take to the air for a heli-skiing adventure on terrain that regularly appears in big adventure films. After a heart-pounding day in the great outdoors, feast on locally caught seafood in one of Valdez’s many restaurants.
Day 5 Anchorage
Fly back to Anchorage. Grab lunch and stop in at at least two museums—first the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and its Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, then the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum for a look at how brave pilots and tough planes shaped Alaska’s history—before you start your journey home.