March 2012

Photo by user
   Submitted By: Bill Howard — Northern Lights Near Coldfoot

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Alaska's winter playground offers mystery, adventure, and adrenaline

Just when much of the nation is winding down after a disappointing winter season by snowfall standards, Alaska's winter playground is open for adventure. Between the increasing daylight hours, spectacular displays of northern lights, springtime snow, ice festivals and major events across the state, Alaska's peak winter travel season is now in full swing. People are abuzz about the remarkable aurora displays this winter. They are forecast to continue through 2013, with predictions for the largest light displays in 50 years. Looking for something to get your blood pumping? Perhaps skiing or riding down a mountain of waist-deep powder is more your speed? That's something Alaska's heli-skiing operators deliver in spades. Not up for heli-skiing, but ready for some winter adventure? Try Alaska's official sport, dog mushing. The state's major races offer visitor-friendly ways to feel the wind on your face and experience the excitement of the trail. Read on to learn more about extreme winter fun in Alaska.


Day 1 Valdez, Alaska
Arrive at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and then hop aboard a flight to Valdez. Arrive in town and rendezvous with the heli-skiing operator and spend a day riding the steeps in Valdez. Overnight in Valdez.

Day 2 Cordova, Alaska
Take a flight or ferry from Valdez to Cordova for another day of adrenaline-pumping heli-skiing in secluded areas with the chance for plenty of first descents. Overnight in Cordova.

Day 3 Anchorage, Alaska
Fly back to Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the first Saturday in March. Head to downtown Anchorage to join the crowd and watch the mushers race through the streets. Also use it as an opportunity to check out one of the many sled dog tours.

Day 4 Willow, Alaska
Drive an hour to Willow for the official start of the Iditarod the next day. The mushers and their teams are focused on the trek to Nome and you’ll feel the anticipation in the air and cheer them on as they head out on the 1,100-mile journey across Alaska. Continue driving to Talkeena and spend the night. Be sure to watch for the northern lights!

Day 5 Talkeetna, Alaska
Enjoy the day in Talkeetna, the quaint, base-camp town for many mountaineers hoping to climb Mount McKinley. Begin with an unforgettable breakfast of sourdough pancakes, cinnamon rolls or — what the heck — a slice of pie at the Talkeetna Roadhouse. Take a flightseeing tour around Mount McKinley. Snowshoe or ski along the extensive trails before returning to Anchorage for the night.

Day 6 Fairbanks, Alaska
Fly to Fairbanks. While waiting for a chance to watch the northern lights, enjoy the sights of the Golden Heart City. Shop for Alaska Native art and jewelry, check out the stunning ice carvings at...



Northern Wonder

Can you hear them crackle and ripple? Will they bless your marriage? Are they visions of your ancestors dancing in the sky? These are just a few of the legends surrounding the phenomenon known as the northern lights. The stars have aligned for aurora viewing in 2012 and 2013, as an increase in sunspot activity will result in more active, colorful aurora during the normal viewing season of August through late April. The phenomenon is a spectacle to behold, transforming a starry night sky with waves of yellow, lime-green and red that move and pulse in ways that leave viewers with a sense of wonder. With so many viewing options to see the lights in Alaska - from evening dog sled rides and snowshoe hikes to Arctic Circle expeditions, remote lodges and natural hot springs - you're sure to have a front row seat to the show.

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Northern Lights Viewing in Alaska

Heliskiing: Extreme Adrenaline

The thrill of Alaska’s epic backcountry steeps is just a quick helicopter flight away. February through April is generally considered prime heli-skiing season in Alaska. What are you waiting for? The untracked powder is calling!

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Skiing in Alaska

Mush On!

Are you ready to feel the wind on your face, enjoy a glacier adventure and cuddle with a blue-eyed sled dog puppy? While early Alaskans used sled dog teams to check traplines and visit neighboring towns, they are now most commonly associated with the popular Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. You don’t have to test your mettle in a 1,000-mile race just to get on the rails of a dogsled – many mushers offer learn-to-mush programs and kennel tours. GEE, HAW AND MUSH!

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Dog Mushing