Photo Credit: Snowhook Adventure Guides of Alaska: Snow Machine Tours

Winter Activities in the Palmer / Wasilla Area

The small towns of Palmer and Wasilla lie just 45 minutes north of Anchorage. In a short drive, you'll find a wealth of winter activities to fill your day (or days!).

Discover local trails on a snowmobile tour, or opt for a longer backcountry trip that launches nearby. Go winter flightseeing on a helicopter tour, or even get dropped off for some heli-snowshoeing! Or visit a kennel in nearby Willow for a dog sledding adventure with Iditarod Mushers.

Most visitors will reach this area by driving in the winter. It is possible to access via the Alaska Railroad's Aurora Winter Train, but service is limited to weekends and some weekdays during February and March.

Snowmobile Tours View All

Season: Mid-November to mid-April $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: Nov 15 - April 4 $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.

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Helicopter Flightseeing View All

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.

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Dog Mushing View All

Tours just north of Palmer / Wasilla in Big Lake and Willow, approximately 1.5 hours from Anchorage.

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!

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.

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Sightseeing Tours View All

Season: Sep 18 to May 08 $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 $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.

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Scenic Drives View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

To explore the road less trav­eled, take the Old Glenn High­way to Palmer, a back road that feels like old Alas­ka. This 19-mile coun­try road cuts through the heart of Alaska’s farm­land and is a scenic, qui­et alter­na­tive between Anchor­age and Palmer. The road access­es state parks and recre­ation areas, pet­ting zoos, and hik­ing trails and pass­es through pic­turesque ter­rain: pas­toral coun­try­side beneath the Chugach Moun­tains and Pio­neer Peak. The…  ...more

The scenic, essen­tial 323-mile-long Parks High­way con­nects Anchor­age and Fair­banks, thread­ing its way past some of Alaska’s most icon­ic Alaskan areas, includ­ing Denali Nation­al Park and Mt. McKin­ley. But we’ll take you far beyond what you can see from the road. We’ll also show you some of the hid­den gems you wouldn’t find on your own, like an old trapper’s cab­in that offers a glimpse into Alaska’s past. We’ll let you in on cool trails to…  ...more

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Cross Country Skiing View All

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

Difficulty: Moderate

With flat stretch­es and steep hills (that are groomed in win­ter), this trail is very pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers, trail run­ners, and cross-coun­try skiers. It was built on land­fill, so as it expands, these trails will change. Most of it is rolling for­est that has cov­ered the grav­el­ly moraines left by retreat­ing glaciers.

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed north of Wasil­la about 45 min­utes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all con­nect­ed with trails, and make for a great day of canoe­ing. They can also be skied in the win­ter and camp­grounds are avail­able as well. This hike can only be done in win­ter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.

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Ice Skating View All

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.

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Parks & Trails View All

At the Gov­ern­ment Peak Recre­ation area you will find an exten­sive trail sys­tem for nordic ski­ing, walk­ing, hik­ing, fat tire bik­ing, and moun­tain bik­ing. The newest addi­tion is a Chalet that is avail­able to warm win­ter vis­i­tors. It’s also avail­able for rent.

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed north of Wasil­la about 45 min­utes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all con­nect­ed with trails, and make for a great day of canoe­ing. They can also be skied in the win­ter and camp­grounds are avail­able as well. This hike can only be done in win­ter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.

Difficulty: Moderate

With flat stretch­es and steep hills (that are groomed in win­ter), this trail is very pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers, trail run­ners, and cross-coun­try skiers. It was built on land­fill, so as it expands, these trails will change. Most of it is rolling for­est that has cov­ered the grav­el­ly moraines left by retreat­ing glaciers.

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