The winter season is when the community glitters. Act like a local when you are in the city. You've earned it, fill your daylight hours with outdoor adventures and spend your evenings by a fire.

Ski slop at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska
Anchorage offers many ways to enjoy the snowy setting, including great downhill skiing. © christiannafzger / Getty Images

Getting Around

Don't be intimidated by the sound of driving. There are a lot of transportation options in Anchorage. Off-season discounts can make renting a car cheap. There are a lot of options to choose from. If you don't feel like driving, there are other ways to get around. Shuttle services are offered by many hotels and tour operators.

Get Outside

Most of the trails are groomed and lit. Unlit paths are used a lot in the winter. In Alaska, most trails are multi-use and include biking, snowshoeing, skiing, and more. The trail system is easy to use with maps and marked trails.

Northern Lights

You don't have to travel far to see this natural wonder when it's most visible in the dark. You can sign up for forecast alert with the insights of science from Aurora Forecast or The Space Weather prediction center. There are a lot of viewing options in and around the city. The dark spots in the city are found on the eastern edge of town and at the airport. The Eagle River Nature Center and Beluga Point are both within a short drive.

The Northern Lights Shine Above The Anchorage City Skyline In This Nighttime View From The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail In Winter
The northern lights can sometimes be seen above the Anchorage skyline from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail © Kevin Smith / Design Pics / Getty Images


In the winter months, there are a number of social, cultural, and athletic events in the city. The Alaska Zoo has holiday lights walking tours. There is a minimum of one holiday market a weekend throughout the city from the church basement to the convention center. The annual polar plunge is a great way to cool off after all of the holiday shopping. There are two film festivals in December and January. You can warm up with a brew at the Alaska Craft Brew and Barley Wine Festival after the fat bike race. The Alaska Ski for Women participants are as passionate about their costumes as they are about their races. The Fur Rondy will take place at the end of the month. The ten-day festival is a celebration of winter with over fifty events. There are fireworks, snow sculptures, and reindeer running. The Tour of Anchorage is the final event of the winter.


The Nordic Spa at Alyeska Resort is located in the heart of the Chugach mountains and is a great place to take a break. You can rest in saunas and steam rooms after you're done at the cabin. There are wooden tub, barrel saunas, and exposed walkways at the resort that blend perfectly with the surrounding trees. An on-site bistro is the epitome of luxury.

Nordic Skiing

There are a lot of world-class, easy-access trails, great rental and gear shops, and a city that is serious about cross-country skiing. You can find daily trail reports and maps on the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage's website. If you're looking for ski rentals, check out the conveniently located REI in Midtown.

Downhill & Backcountry Skiing

It's easy to get to the resort for downhill skiers in the city. If you travel south along the Turnagain Arm, you can go to the largest resort in the state, Alyeska. Within 20 minutes of downtown, you can find the smaller, non-profit Hilltop Ski Area and the larger, non-profitArctic Valley Ski Area.

Ski lift at Alyeska Resort outside Anchorage
Alyeska, Alaska’s largest resort, is less than an hour outside of Anchorage. © christiannafzger / Getty Images


If you've never tried snowshoeing, you might be surprised to know that it's only a matter of walking. With snowshoes on, you can stay afloat on top of the snow while exploring hiking trails that are off-limits without their help. There are many hiking trails on the eastern side of the city with clear views of the Cook inlet after a short elevation gain.


Snowmobiles are a powerful and fast way to see more terrain than skis or sleds. Areas not accessible during the summer months can be found in the surrounding areas, which offer winter snow machine highways. You can get out on a snow machine by booking through a tour operator. Snowhook Adventure Guides of Alaska is located in the Matanuska Valley. Alaska Wild Guides and Glacier City Snowmobile Tours can take you out into the wilderness.

Winter Biking

Fat biking, also known as winter biking, is a popular sport in Alaska. The Iditabike, the first official winter biking event, took place in 1987, and Alaskans have been practicing winter biking ever since. Hiking trails, city trails and frozen rivers become usable terrain during the winter. Alaska Trail Guides and Alaska BikeAdventures offer tours and various bike-related gear rentals.

Man riding fat tire bike through the Chugach Mountains
The thick tires on fat bikes make it possible to pedal on snowy trails. © Daniel H. Bailey / Getty Images


Don't let packing get in the way of your trip to Alaska. Alaska outdoor gear rentals can help you with everything from skis and snowboards to jackets and winter camping gear A lot of gear is sold by Anchorage residents. You can find almost anything you need in multiple styles and sizes at the shops.

When you return to your hometown, you'll have earned some time to chill out.

The first article was published in December of 2011.