Aurora and Winter Activities

The idea of winter in Alaska might seem cold and forbidding, but there's more warmth and light than you might think, with average temperatures in the 20s (about -7 to -1 °C) and up to six hours of sunlight per day in the southern part of the state. As long as you dress properly for the weather, you can be comfortable almost anywhere in the state, all winter long.

It helps to have a healthy dose of wonder: Winter is an increasingly popular season in the Interior region of Alaska, where visitors flock to see the glorious aurora borealis, or northern lights, shining overhead, or to marvel at the handiwork of world-champion ice carvers. Winter is also dog mushing season in Alaska, with the 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race. Or you can join in wacky events that would only happen here, like the annual outhouse race (in which outhouses are mounted on skis and pulled or pushed down a racecourse by teams of people) and the Running of the Reindeer (think running of the bulls... but with reindeer), both part of the Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage.

In many places in Alaska, winter also means great rates on everything from hotels to rental cars and tours. There are plenty of indoor attractions, too: Although quite a few museums, cultural centers and gift shops close up shop or limit their hours during the winter, locally owned favorites almost always stay open year-round.

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