Photo Credit: Carlos Rojas

Anchorage Winter Activities

While the majority of visitors come to Anchorage during the summer months, winter offers many unique experiences; viewing the northern lights, going on an authentic dog sled ride, and hitting the ski slopes. See our recommendations below for the best things to do in Anchorage during the winter.

Need winter clothing? Here's our packing list. Or, rent gear from Alaska Outdoor Gear Outfitter & Rentals!

Northern Lights Tours View All

Season: Nov 01 to Mar 28 $115+ 4 hrs - multi-day packages

Won­der­ing how folks up here deal with Alaska’s long win­ter days? It’s easy when the inky night sky comes alive with an amaz­ing light show like the auro­ra bore­alis. Brav­ing the cold is noth­ing if you get a chance to see the lights danc­ing and wav­ing over­head. Com­bine your auro­ra view­ing trip with a few oth­er high­lights planned out by Salmon Berry Tours, and you’ll expe­ri­ence the best of win­ter in Alaska.

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Snowmobiling Tours View All

Season: Nov 15 to Apr 04 $255+ Half Day, Full Day, Multi-Day

Own­ers Mat­ti and Dan can­not think of a bet­ter way to appre­ci­ate Alas­ka than shar­ing it with oth­ers. Mat­ti was born and raised in Palmer, Alas­ka and has been on snow­ma­chines most of her life. Alas­ka Back­coun­try Adven­tures offers mild to wild” expe­ri­ences and prides itself on pro­vid­ing a cus­tomized expe­ri­ence for all lev­els of abil­i­ty. It offers the widest vari­ety of expe­di­tions on the lat­est and great­est equipment.

$200+ 3.5+ hrs

Hop aboard an eco-friend­ly snow­mo­bile in Gird­wood and ride on groomed trails beneath mas­sive, 7,000-foot glaciat­ed peaks or vis­it the daz­zling blue ice of Spencer Glac­i­er. Or, head north of Anchor­age for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary, all gear pro­vid­ed, and warm bev­er­ages and snacks included. 

Season: Dec 01 to Apr 20 $255+ 5-6 hours (day trip) or 4-10 days (multi-day)

Explore Alaska’s back­coun­try astride a speedy and fun snow­ma­chine. Alas­ka Wild Guides will take you out for one thrilling day, or for sev­er­al days of exhil­a­rat­ing adven­ture. Find hid­den ice caves and remote glac­i­ers while nav­i­gat­ing along frozen rivers and through deep powder.

$150+ 3 hrs

Feel the thrill of explor­ing the Alaskan wilder­ness while dri­ving your own snow­mo­bile over the tun­dra, look­ing for wildlife and tak­ing in amaz­ing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amaz­ing view of Denali.

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Flightseeing Tours View All

Prince William Sound • Knik Glacier • Denali (Mt McKinley) • Floatplane tours
Season: Jun 01 to Sep 30 $175+ 1-5 hours

Trail Ridge Air offers an on-demand per­spec­tive of Alaska’s wilder­ness, with per­son­able and knowl­edge­able pilots. Watch for wildlife, check out mas­sive glac­i­ers, alpine lakes, Denali, or even Lake Clark Nation­al Park. Trail Ridge accom­mo­dates for the busiest of sched­ules, with flights rang­ing from one hour to a full day.

Season: Year Round $235+ per person 1-5 hrs

Take a tour of Denali or to a near­by glac­i­er with expe­ri­enced pilots who are well-versed in all things Alas­ka — from the ter­rain to the his­to­ry and wildlife — and who love to enter­tain guests

Season: Year Round $125+ .5 to 3 hrs

Explore Alas­ka from above with this fam­i­ly-owned com­pa­ny that oper­ates out of Anchor­age. Options include fly­ing above Denali, Knik and Colony Glac­i­er, the Chugach Moun­tains, and more!

Season: Year Round $1500 per person 6hrs+

Trygg Air offers day trips for wal­rus view­ing from Anchor­age as well as King Salmon, in South­west Alas­ka. Fly to King Salmon com­mer­cial­ly from Anchor­age, and then meet Trygg Air for a 90-minute scenic jour­ney along the west side of the Alas­ka Penin­su­la to Cape Seni­avin to view these 4,000 pound ani­mals that haul out on the beach. Trygg can also fly you out to two oth­er icon­ic places: Brooks Falls, to see griz­zly bears swat­ting at salmon; and the  ...more

Season: Year Round $125+ 30 min to 3 hrs

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of Alaska’s scenic high­lights on a flight­see­ing tour with Rust’s Fly­ing Ser­vice, where every pas­sen­ger gets a win­dow seat. Tour options include a short 30-minute Anchor­age Flight­see­ing Safari, a flight to Denali, Denali plus a glac­i­er land­ing, and more. Tours begin at Anchorage’s Lake Hood, the world’s busiest sea­plane airport.

Season: Year Round $379+ 1 hr - full day

For out­stand­ing view­ing and incred­i­ble access to remote places, there’s noth­ing like flight­see­ing by heli­copter. Join Alas­ka Heli­copter Tours – a local­ly-owned, high­ly-respect­ed heli­copter tour and char­ter com­pa­ny – for excur­sions that reveal hid­den sites just min­utes from Anchor­age. Spot wildlife from the air, stand on a glac­i­er or land on a remote airstrip.

Season: Year Round $299+ 30 - 90 min

There are few things more spec­tac­u­lar than lift­ing off in a heli­copter and soar­ing over Alaska’s glac­i­er-filled ter­rain or out across its shim­mer­ing waters. Suit­able for all ages. Get a taste for heli­copter flight­see­ing on a 30-minute trip into the 20-Mile riv­er val­ley and the heart of glac­i­er country.

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Bicycle Tours & Rentals

Rent or take a guided tour on a Fat Tire bike

Season: Year Round $95+ Day Tours | $35+ Rentals Half and Full Day Tours | Rentals 4hrs+

Anchor­age may be Alaska’s big city, but this bicy­cle tour oper­a­tor offers quick proof that the city has a lot of wilder­ness. Choose your ride based on half-day or full-day options, as well as dif­fi­cul­ty. You’ll go from down­town to Moth­er Nature — with moun­tains, coastal views, and the occa­sion­al moose sight­ing — in no time at all. Bet­ter yet, the tours often include beer tast­ings or lunch.

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Dog Mushing View All

Learn to mush, or enjoy the ride

Season: Year Round $150+ 2+ hrs

Win­ter or sum­mer, expe­ri­ence the thrill of run­ning Idi­tar­od sled dogs and even have a chance to dri­ve! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.

Season: Year Round $99+ Summer | $169+ Winter 1 - 8 hours

Expe­ri­ence the excite­ment of rac­ing cham­pi­on sled dogs at the Alas­ka Mush­ing School, just 75 min­utes from Anchor­age. Get a professional’s insight into the mush­ing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of ener­getic sled dogs on trails con­nect­ed to the famous Idi­tar­od route. Bun­dle up and ride in com­fort, or brave the cold and dri­ve the team yourself!

$299+ 8 - 9 hrs

Every­body loves sled dogs, and Salmon Berry Tours offers you the chance to get behind the sled year-round. In sum­mer and win­ter, you’ll head to the ken­nel of Idi­tar­od Cham­pi­on Dal­las Seavey, where you’ll see a gear demon­stra­tion, meet the dogs, and ride on the sled behind them. They also have a mul­ti-day adven­ture for Idi­tar­od enthusiasts. 

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Photography Tours

Photograph alpenglow on snow capped mountains, frosty scenes & possibly the northern lights!

Season: Aug 07 to May 10 $249+ 6 hours

Pho­to­graph alpen­glow on snow capped moun­tains, frosty scenes glow­ing in rich win­ter light, wildlife wan­der­ing snowy paths, city lights reflect­ing on the water at twi­light, and pos­si­bly even the north­ern lights!

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Indoor Adventures

Escape rooms, museums & more

Season: May 17 to Sep 20 $35

The Alyeska Resort’s Aer­i­al Tramway is a sev­en-minute ride that lifts you to a view­ing deck with breath­tak­ing panoram­ic views of moun­tains, hang­ing glac­i­ers, streams, spruce, and an array of wildlife. Enjoy a relaxed mid­day pic­nic or beau­ti­ful evening sun­set on Mt. Alyeska’s obser­va­tion deck, more than 2,000 feet above sea lev­el. Tele­scopes inten­si­fy what Conde Nast Trav­el­er Mag­a­zine rat­ed the best view of any U.S. ski resort. Go exploring,  ...more

Season: Year Round $35

Every now and then in Alas­ka — where the weath­er can change quick­ly — a great indoor activ­i­ty comes in handy. But this unique year-round attrac­tion, where a fam­i­ly or a group of friends solves a mys­tery while locked” indoors, makes a fun diver­sion even when the skies are clear outside.

Season: Year Round $109+ 4 - 11 hrs

If you’re a beer snob — or just like soak­ing up the per­son­al­i­ty of a city through its brew­pubs — this cre­ative tour com­pa­ny offers a few dif­fer­ent tours, each of which pro­vide an inter­est­ing look at life in Alas­ka, as well as through a taste of the state’s legit craft beer indus­try. The Anchor­age Brews Tour, is a short, 3.5 hour local brew­ery tour. Hops on the Rail tour com­bines brew­eries between Anchor­age and Tal­keet­na with a ride on The Alaska  ...more

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Attractions & Sightseeing

Season: Sep 19 to May 09 $63+

Win­ter in Alas­ka is a mag­i­cal time, with few­er vis­i­tors and a serene, snow-cov­ered land­scape. If you’re here from mid-Sep­tem­ber to mid-May, you can take it in from the com­fort of the Auro­ra Win­ter Train, which runs between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It’s an easy and mem­o­rable way to trav­el north and expe­ri­ence the auro­ra bore­alis, or even do a week­end get­away to Talkeetna.

Season: Year Round $16

At the 200-acre Alas­ka Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Cen­ter, see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center’s mis­sion is to pro­vide refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill ani­mals — those that can’t sur­vive in the wild. The cen­ter, which opened to the pub­lic in 1993, edu­cates vis­i­tors about Alaska’s wildlife. Coy­otes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a griz­zly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal  ...more

Season: Year Round $59+ 2.5 hrs - 8 hrs

A lot of com­pa­nies offer Anchor­age city tours, but very few of them vis­it this many sites, are guid­ed by locals, and use vans instead of motor­coach­es. With Salmon Berry Tours, you’ll trav­el the city in the com­fort of a van, with an Alaskan guide who will take you on a his­toric and scenic spin around the city. Or, try the Glac­i­er Turn trip which includes Portage Glac­i­er, Tur­na­gain Arm, Mt. Alyeska Tramway, the Alas­ka Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Center.  ...more

Season: Year Round $15 1.5 - 2 hrs

The Alas­ka Zoo start­ed in 1966 with one baby ele­phant named Annabelle that was won in a con­test. Since then, it has expand­ed to include over 77 ani­mals across 25 acres of the Anchor­age hillside.

Season: Year Round $175+ 3.5 to 9 hrs

Lazy Otter offers clas­sic tours, but this is a water taxi, so they’ll also take you any­where you want to go with­in Price William Sound — or just cus­tomize a tour to what­ev­er you want to see. Maybe that’s glac­i­ers, or whales, — or maybe it’s qui­et time on a seclud­ed beach. Lazy Otter can also help facil­i­tate tak­ing you and your fam­i­ly on a camp­ing trip. You’re not held to any strict sched­ule, either: if, on a day tour, you can spend more time in one  ...more

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Groomed Ski Trails View All

It’s like a block of wilder­ness nes­tled with­in the heart of the city. This easy 7.5‑kilometer loop cir­cum­nav­i­gates much of the unde­vel­oped reserves of Alas­ka Pacif­ic Uni­ver­si­ty and Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Anchor­age — con­nect­ing sev­er­al city parks while serv­ing as a major hub for cross-city ski­ing, snow bik­ing and oth­er activ­i­ties. A trek here can trans­port you deep into an Alas­ka win­ter set­ting with­out ever leav­ing the urban zone. 

Whether clas­sic tour­ing through deep woods or dri­ving hard on your skate skis down a race route, you will find every kind of ski­ing inside Anchorage’s largest park. Scores of mul­ti-use trails suit­able for ski­ing criss­cross this vast, 4,000-acre tract, reach­ing from low­land for­est into the foothills of the Chugach Moun­tains. The most pop­u­lar groomed route may be the Tour of Anchor­age Trail. But with at least 65 trails cov­er­ing near­ly 100 miles,  ...more

Forty min­utes from down­town Anchor­age lies Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, a gate­way to Chugach State Park and a glacial riv­er val­ley as wild and dra­mat­ic as any in Alas­ka. Enjoy an easy, 3‑mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-val­ley 5 miles to see plung­ing water­falls and 3,000-foot cliffs. In win­ter, tra­verse the trails on cross-coun­try skis or snowshoes.

The wood­ed, hilly trails of Hill­side Park loop through the moun­tain foothills between Ser­vice High School and Chugach State Park, offer­ing more than 25 kilo­me­ters of groom­ing. They range from the poten­tial­ly stren­u­ous Spencer Loop with the city’s biggest climb to mild Randy’s Loop close to the sta­di­um by the school. These trails include just about every kind of terrain 

The Chester Creek mul­ti-use trail sys­tem con­nects city parks and moun­tain venues in east Anchor­age with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along the shore of Knik Arm. The main trunk runs with­out break some four miles from Goose Lake Park to Westch­ester Lagoon, light­ed all the way. Using tun­nels and bridges, the fun trail offers an unin­ter­rupt­ed trav­el cor­ri­dor for skiers of all ages and abil­i­ty lev­el across the heart of the city. Call it  ...more

If you’re seek­ing some fun ski­ing over groomed, forest­ed trails away from crowds, the Coy­ote Trail sys­tem behind Mir­ror Lake Mid­dle School in Chugiak is worth check­ing out. Used most often by mid­dle school ath­letes and the neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ty, the loop fea­tures 5.6 kilo­me­ters easy enough for begin­ners to enjoy and yet chal­leng­ing enough to enter­tain more advanced skiers. 

For a spec­tac­u­lar ski along Anchorage’s coast with views of ice­bergs, active vol­ca­noes, a salt marsh and the majes­tic white mas­sif of Denali, take a cruise along the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This mul­ti-use civic gem draws skiers, bik­ers and walk­ers in almost every win­ter con­di­tion. Once the city parks depart­ment starts reg­u­lar groom­ing, it is often the eas­i­est of skis, pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies, with only two sig­nif­i­cant climbs along its  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

For a chal­leng­ing and com­pact cross coun­try ski area where you’ll find just about every kind of ter­rain, you can’t go wrong at Beach Lake Nordic Ski Trails off South Birch­wood Loop in Chugiak. The 15-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem ranges from easy glid­ing to a sprawl­ing advanced loop with sud­den head­walls that morph into thrilling, high-speed descents. You can make it as chal­leng­ing or as sedate as you like.

$62+ Half or Full Day

Alyeska Resort is famous for its down­hill ski­ing and snow­board­ing for a rea­son — it’s tru­ly world-class, fea­tur­ing tons of snow, steep moun­tains, and views that stretch on for­ev­er. But there are a ton of oth­er win­ter activ­i­ties that make Alyeska an epi­cen­ter for win­ter adven­ture. Go cross-coun­try ski­ing or snow­shoe­ing on one of the area trails; or head off into the back­coun­try with a guide for some heli- or cat-ski­ing; try a snow­mo­bile excursion;  ...more

Pas­toral is the word here. This 300-acre park on Anchorage’s near-east side fea­tures groomed paths over the gen­tle fair­ways of a snow-bound golf course. Loops explore a hand­some for­est with bridges over a mean­der­ing spring-fed creek. Most groomed trails are lit or near lights, and are very pop­u­lar with new and younger skiers. Still, you can find plen­ty of hills, plus a more chal­leng­ing clas­sic-style loop in the north-side forest.

With an aston­ish­ing maze of groomed trails over all kinds of ter­rain — includ­ing 12 to 15 miles equipped with lights for night ski­ing — Kin­caid Park is the region’s pre­mier des­ti­na­tion for cross coun­try ski­ing. The sys­tem ranges from sedate, pas­toral loops suit­able for fam­i­lies on an out­ing to demand­ing expert work­outs with hard climbs and scream­ing descents. This venue has ski­ing for every lev­el of experience. 

Difficulty: Moderate

For one of the loop­i­est and fun Nordic ski areas in the city, try out the trails behind Bartlett High School along the bound­ary of the mil­i­tary base. Hilly, with lots of curves that spring into quick and sud­den climbs, this five-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem through a mature for­est packs a lot of ski­ing into a small footprint.

For a leisure­ly ski along a scenic green­belt that cross­es Mid­town Anchor­age along an eco­log­i­cal­ly rich bot­tom­land, try out the Camp­bell Creek Trail — reach­ing 7.5 miles from the Uni­ver­si­ty Lake area to West Dimond Boule­vard. It’s anoth­er one of the city’s through-the-look­ing-glass” expe­ri­ences where you’ll feel sur­round­ed by a win­try ripar­i­an habi­tat even though you’re often ski­ing a few hun­dred feet from indus­tri­al areas and neigh­bor­hoods. Very  ...more

If you’d like to explore a snow-bound trail sys­tem through a majes­tic rain for­est that gets lit­tle vis­i­ta­tion in win­ter, try out Bird Val­ley in Chugach State Park south of Anchor­age off the Seward High­way. You and the fam­i­ly can stroll, ski, snow­shoe or snow-bike for hours through a serene and almost sur­re­al set­ting of tow­er­ing trees with an occa­sion­al stu­pen­dous view of Pen­guin Peak and Bird Ridge. 

It’s easy to take a grand tour” ski across Anchor­age. Using the city’s 120-mile-plus mul­ti-use trail sys­tem, you can kick-and-glide from the moun­tains to the sea. Start at an urban trail­head noisy with traf­fic and end in a qui­et for­est. Launch from a side­walk below sky­scrap­ers to find a wildlife refuge with a vast ocean view. The city’s exten­sive mul­ti-use trail sys­tem fea­tures dozens of itineraries 

When snow allows, sev­er­al looped ski trails are groomed near Eagle Riv­er High School and along the slope over­look­ing the riv­er canyon. A fun option con­nects trails near the school to a mul­ti-use sec­tion over the snow­bound roads inside the Eagle Riv­er camp­ground of Chugach State Park. This 6‑kilometer sys­tem is a fun way to explore the riv­er cor­ri­dor, with con­nec­tions to exten­sive mul­ti-use routes

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 4 miles

The Alyeska Mul­ti-Use Path­way is a paved, light­ed mul­ti-use trail that extends from the Seward Hwy to the Hotel Alyeska. The path is pop­u­lar with walk­ers and run­ners, and with a fresh batch of snow it becomes a great clas­sic ski trail.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

The Idi­tar­od Nation­al His­toric Trail is Alaska’s sole Nation­al His­toric Trail. This net­work of 2,300-mile win­ter trails evolved to con­nect Alaskan Native vil­lages, estab­lished the dog-team mail and sup­ply route dur­ing Alaska’s Gold Rush, and now serves as a vital recre­ation and trav­el link.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 12 miles

Part of the Abbott Trail Sys­tem, this is a well-defined access trail that drops before cross­ing the South Fork Camp­bell Creek and inter­sect­ing with the Spencer Loop. (Go left, cycling clockwise.)

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Outdoor Ice Skating View All

For the clas­sic city ice skat­ing expe­ri­ence where hun­dreds of peo­ple might spend the after­noon careen­ing along smooth, wind­ing paths or warm­ing them­selves at burn bar­rels, try out Westch­ester Lagoon at the west end of the Chester Creek green­belt off the L Street / Min­neso­ta Dri­ve corridor. 

For an oth­er­world­ly encounter with a famous glac­i­er you can’t eas­i­ly approach or even glimpse dur­ing sum­mer, lead the fam­i­ly across frozen Portage Lake to a fan­tas­tic wall of jum­bled, blue ice. Once the lake sur­face has frozen sol­id, peo­ple flock across on foot, ice skates, skis and bikes. 50 miles from Anchorage.

Explore the wild ice of Pot­ter Marsh along the Seward High­way in South Anchor­age. After a hard freeze-up, the marsh morphs from bird-nest­ing habi­tat into an intrigu­ing maze, with miles of twisty routes lead­ing to unex­pect­ed rinks. Very pop­u­lar with families. 

A pre­mier pad­dling des­ti­na­tion in sum­mer, the eight-mile loop canoe trail through 14 lakes can be skat­ed after freeze-up and before sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall. Peo­ple often cruise the entire route in one long day, or skate out a few lakes and return. Be pre­pared to hike portages up to a half-mile between lakes. 71 miles north of Anchorage.

Freeze-up turns this sev­en-mile long fresh-water fiord in Chugach State Park into a mul­ti-mode trav­el cor­ri­dor for ice skaters, hik­ers, skiers and bik­ers. Adven­ture skat­ing can be good before snow gets too deep, or after mid-win­ter thaws or wind rehabs the surface. 

These frozen chan­nels wind for miles across the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge off the Glenn High­way in the mouth of the Matanus­ka and Knik riv­er val­leys, just 35 miles north of Anchor­age. Either trav­el the streams or explore exten­sive pond net­works on the flats.

In 1984 when the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter was being built plans were includ­ed for Town Square. In the sum­mer it is a good spot to sit and take a break. In the win­ter, the trees are strung with christ­mas lights and an ice skat­ing rink is cre­at­ed at the cen­ter of the park.

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Sledding

For an epic sled run that drops near­ly 500 feet in less than a mile, vis­it what some locals call The Luge” off Arc­tic Val­ley Road in the foothills of the Chugach Moun­tains just east of town. Depend­ing upon on snow con­di­tions, it takes intre­pid sled­ders three-to-five exhil­a­rat­ing min­utes to descend a nar­row chute-like trail to the bottom. 

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