Clear nights and northern lights. From late August through April, Alaska’s dark nights provide the perfect backdrop for twinkling stars and dancing lights.
Alaska’s higher latitudes are perfectly situated along the auroral oval -a magnetic zone surrounding the north pole – for seeing fantastic displays of the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. Charged particles bounce off the Earth’s magnetic field, creating amazing displays of color where they interact with chemicals in the atmosphere. Waves of green and red ribbons, sometimes even blue and purple, flow across the starry skies.
While the aurora borealis – the northern dawn – can technically be seen anywhere in Alaska, the odds of seeing these dramatic displays increase as you head north. Here, the aurora can appear anywhere in the sky, so if possible, stand on a hill or someplace elevated to get a good view of the horizon. Of course, the longer your visit, the better your chances of seeing the famous lights. Sign up for a northern lights viewing tour
, stay at a lodge with specially designed viewing spaces, or ask your hotel for a special wake-up call when the lights are out. The cosmos is calling.
Dogs + Snow = Phenomenal Alaska Adventure. It’s true, Alaska’s gone to the dogs. In fact, dog mushing
(or dog sledding if you’re from Outside) is our official state sport!
Alaskans and their dogs have gone hand in paw for more than 3000 years, with dogs pulling everything from food to freight across the Last Frontier. Today, our dogs are better known as sprint and long-distance racers, cheered on by race fans from around the world as they compete in events ranging from the multiple heats of the Open North American Championships in Fairbanks
to the 1,000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race ending in Nome
Fortunately, you don’t need your own team to get out and experience a dog mushing adventure
. Hop on the runners and ride behind the sled or settle into the basket and let the lead dogs guide you on a memorable journey through the Alaska landscape. Head out for an hour, a day, or even multi-day excursion with professional mushers and the canine athletes. In winter, start by visiting the musher’s kennel to meet the pups before being whisked away across frozen lakes and glittering white snow. In summer
, take a scenic flight to the top of a glacier and get a warm, wiggly welcome from your husky team. Take a ride on the wild side with an Alaska dog mushing adventure!
Better ski-daddle! Alaska has endless ways to enjoy winter, and, if you’re looking for fresh powder in the backcountry or groomed runs, you’ll want to add Alaska to your snow-bucket list. Wax up your skis and hop an aerial tram to the top of the mountain to race downhill at one of our world-class ski resorts, put on skins to work your way uphill for the joy of telemarking back down in fresh backcountry powder, or take a helicopter up to the highest ridgelines for heliskiing from remote lodges. From untouched, snow-covered mountains to perfectly groomed trails, there’s a ski (or snowboard) experience for every skill level.
Not feeing the need for downhill speed? Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through Alaska’s winter wonderland, heading across frozen lakes and rivers, where snow sparkles and glints like diamonds on a sunny day. Even better – try it at night. When the moonlight reflects on snow, it’s light enough to see your shadow. It’s a great time to dress warmly and get outside. Listen to the stillness, broken only by the sound of your skis gliding along a frozen river or forest trail.
Downhill or level ground, Alaska is a great place to feel the swoosh of snow beneath your skis.
Soak it all in from Alaska’s hot springs. Alaska’s location on the Ring of Fire, the arch of tectonic plates ringing the Pacific Ocean, means we have great geothermal resources, including some amazing natural hot springs just perfect for a relaxing soak.
Alaska’s hot springs are found statewide, from the Inside Passage to the Arctic. Some are secluded – only accessible by boat or plane - while others are easily accessible from Alaska’s road system. From family-friendly resort experiences to remote backcountry getaways, you’ll want to immerse yourself the variety of options available.
Hot springs in the Inside Passage region tend to be accessible only by boat or float plane and have limited amenities. Still, if you’re looking to relax under the spruce and hemlock trees of the Tongass National Forest, you’ll find a variety of options near Ketchikan, Wrangell, Sitka, and Tenakee Springs.
The hot springs in Interior Alaska are accessible by road from Fairbanks and range from resort to remote. Steam the night away under the northern lights after a day of cross-country skiing or dog sledding through Alaska’s boreal forest.
Arctic Alaska’s hot springs outside of Nome are generally accessible only in winter and provide a truly remote experience.