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.
Northern Lights Tours View All
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.
Snowmobiling Tours View All
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flightseeing Tours View All
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Bicycle Tours & Rentals
Rent or take a guided tour on a Fat Tire bike
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.
Dog Mushing View All
Learn to mush, or enjoy the ride
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.
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!
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.
Photograph alpenglow on snow capped mountains, frosty scenes & possibly the northern lights!
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!
Escape rooms, museums & more
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
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.
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
Attractions & Sightseeing
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.