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! Tryout out skiing or snowboarding in the Talkeetna Mountains. 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.

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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Skiing & Snowboarding View All

Ski or snow­board in this com­mu­ni­ty set in the Tal­keet­na moun­tains

Ski or snow­board in this com­mu­ni­ty ski area set in the Tal­keet­na moun­tains, 90 min­utes north of Anchor­age and 25 min­utes from down­town Palmer. Hatch­er Pass has always been a place back­coun­try skiers flocked to, but Skeetawk makes the great ter­rain avail­able to even more snows­ports lovers.

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Sightseeing Tours View All

Season: Year Round $99+ 3+ hrs

Short on time and want to see anoth­er side of Anchor­age and the gor­geous sur­round­ing area? Take a small-group tour with Escap­ing Anchor­age, whose own­er, Brit­tney, cre­ates per­son­al­ized adven­tures fea­tur­ing beau­ti­ful scenery and real insights.

Season: Year Round $429+ 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: Sep 23 to May 05 $72+

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.

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Parks & Trails View All

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Guided Hikes & Cross Country Skiing

Season: Year Round $129+ 2 hrs to multi-day

Set off with a small group and an expe­ri­enced guide for an unfor­get­table explo­ration of the Mat-Su Val­ley area on foot. Nes­tled between the Chugach Moun­tains to the south and the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains to the north, there are crag­gy, snow-capped peaks and rush­ing rivers every­where you turn: a clas­sic Alaskan set­ting that comes packed with a rich his­to­ry. Opt for a half-day or full day hike, or choose a hike & brew or a town tour to learn the  ...more

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Scenic Drives View All

Guides to the Hatcher Pass, Old Glenn Highway and the Parks Highway

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.

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Wildlife View All

See reindeer and musk ox up close

Season: Year Round $15 1 hour

In the agri­cul­tur­al Matanus­ka Val­ley just north of Anchor­age, you can pet a rein­deer or feed fresh wil­low to a bull moose. Set on a 200-acre plot in Palmer, the Rein­deer Farm has been in the Williams fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions. Dur­ing the one-hour tour, you’ll hear inter­est­ing, fun­ny, and insight­ful sto­ries about these wild ani­mals while walk­ing around the prop­er­ty. If you want to see the baby rein­deer, come in June!

Season: Year-Round $14 45 min

The folks at this non-prof­it farm out­side Palmer were doing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture long before it was cool before most peo­ple used such a term. Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox Farm pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the ani­mal rein­tro­duced to Alas­ka in the 1930s.

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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.

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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 $69+ 1-3.5 hrs

Sum­mer or win­ter, vis­it a fam­i­ly-run cham­pi­on ken­nel, meet friend­ly dogs and an expe­ri­enced mush­er for a ride along pri­vate trails with views of Denali. Opt to ride in the sled or mush your own. Or, for a tru­ly authen­tic adven­ture, go on a train­ing run for the Idi­tar­od! Large groups and spe­cial events wel­come when orga­nized in advance.

Season: Winter $169+ 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 Summer: $75+ | Winter: $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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Snowmobile Tours View All

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.

Season: Mid-November to mid-April $275+ 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. 

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Helicopter Flightseeing View All

Year round helicopter flightseeing with options of glacier landings

Season: Year Round $95+ per person .25 hr+

Expe­ri­ence the thrill of heli-flight­see­ing year-round by fly­ing with the expe­ri­enced pilots from Heli Alas­ka, out of Wasil­la. Just 40-min­utes north of Anchor­age, you’ll take off from a dock and be on your way to see Alas­ka from the air, look­ing down on glac­i­ers, tun­dra, and wildlife. Many tours even include a glac­i­er land­ing to explore these ancient rivers of ice on foot.

Season: Year Round $429+ 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 $429+ 1.5+ hrs

Glac­i­er trekking, kayak­ing, ice climb­ing, and oth­er activ­i­ties are even more spe­cial when com­bined with a spec­tac­u­lar heli­copter ride through Alaska’s dra­mat­ic scenery. Thanks to key part­ner­ships with oth­er expe­ri­enced Alaskan tour oper­a­tors, Palmer based Out­bound Heli Adven­tures is able to coor­di­nate seam­less out­ings of a life­time! And, they pride them­selves on offer­ing the most amount of flight time with their excursions.

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