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january in alaska

dublin,ireland
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january in alaska

Im hoping to visit alaska in january for 3 weeks and would appreciate any advice people might have.i know its a cold time of year and will hopefully be able to cope with the low temp.Will i be able to travel around by public/private transport.where's the best place to fly into? can i get a taxi from the airport etc etc these are a couple of stupid tourist question i have but coming from ireland where we dont get extremes in weather it'd be good to find out. I know i wont see everyting in 3 weeks but hopefully i will see enough for some lasting memories.I'd appreciate any help.

USA
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1. Re: january in alaska

Yes, we have taxis running in Anchorage all year long, as well as car rentals.

I would suggest flying into Anchorage, renting a car, & making the drive down to Seward. That drive along the Turnagain Arm is one of the most beautiful in the world. However, I would want a rental car with snow tires.

It is also very possible to see Mt McKinley from Anchorage from several spots in January. I see it driving to my school more in January than any other time.

If you ice skate, the Westchester Lagoon is magical in winter. What views! If you ski, Alyeska in Girdwood is a nice ski area.

Chugiak, Alaska
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2. Re: january in alaska

I agree with everything Denalicat said. On my first trip, I rented a small SUV and the 4-wheel drive was enough to not need the snow tires. I felt a bit more comfortable in that than a car, but that's personal preference of course.

A couple more ideas- you could see if you could rent some snowshoes at the REI here in town and go out for a 'hike' in the Chugach mountains just outside town. There are some nice trails that shouldn't be too hard on you if you are in ok shape and you can get the full effect of the mountains in the winter.

Also, if you can afford it, there are kennels that allow you to go dog sledding in Denali National Park in the winter. You could drive up, stay at a B&B (I recommend the Dome Home) and see the park by sled. I did that my first trip up here (before I moved here), though not in Denali, and it was incredible. I think it'd be a great way to see the Park in the winter.

As for surviving the elements, just remember, layers, layers, layers. :) Even dog sledding when it was -30 out, I just had a layer of regular cotton long underware, a sweatshirt and jeans, and then lined Carharts (which I bought at Wal-mart when I got here for $60) and a down parka. And of course, hat, scarf, bunny boots and two pair of gloves. I didn't feel cold at all the whole time even though ice gathered on my eye lashes and hair from my breath freezing. :) And I was coming from Virginia, so I wasn't acclimated at all.

I'd also recommend taking a train ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks. That's the other thing I did on my first trip up that I enjoyed the heck out of. The train only runs on the weekend in the winter, going up Saturday and back down Sunday, but I recommend taking it up Saturday, staying in Fairbanks a few days, and then flying back to Anchorage. The train ride is about 11 hours long and you'll only have about 5 hours of light or so in Jan to see the scenery, but it's so pretty.

The airfare one way has been on sale the last couple weeks for only $100 one way from Fairbanks to Anchorage in the Jan-Feb timeframe on Alaska Air, so check that out soon if it sounds like something you want to do. I think you'll have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights up there, too. I've been up here nearly a year and that time in Fairbanks two and a half years ago is still the only time I've seen them (stupid cloudy Anchorage skies).

dublin,ireland
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3. Re: january in alaska

Thanks very much for all the advice I really appreciate it.Can you tell me how safe it would be travelling on your own around alaska? The Train Trip to fairbanks sounds great just wondering if many people travel on it that time of year.

thanks...

Chugiak, Alaska
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4. Re: january in alaska

I rode the train on my own (I'm a girl) in '06 and there were about 12-14 people on there as well as myself. You're very safe being on your own- there are conductors going up and down the train often and the other guests are all tourists or locals. Traveling in Alaska feels safer to me than the other places I've traveled. I've never felt nervous being on my own.

I also went out to a lodge to view the Northern Lights when I got to Fairbanks. I recommend that- can't remember what the name was, but you could look it up on the internet I'm sure. It was nice because they had plenty of couches all facing the windows, so you could stay inside where it was warm with coffee and hot cocoa and then go outside to the deck and watch or take pictures when they started up. They also picked me up form my hotel and took me out there- I think it was $50 for that and well worth it.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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5. Re: january in alaska

If it is just a trip to visit, may I recommend that you wait until March. Especially if you are coming to Fairbanks. In Jan. and Feb. we have our most extreme temperatures, -40 and -50 F. We also only have about 3 hours of daylight then. So you wouldn't have much time to actually see anything. By March our temperatures have become more mild, though they are still very cold, our daylight has returned to a semblance of normal, and we have many exciting events such as the World Ice Art Championship and the North American Classic (dog sled race that runs right through town). Yet we still have plenty enough darkness that your chance of seeing the northern lights are great. Actually better then in Jan. where you could not stay outdoors for very long to watch for them.

Also, if you come up, stay away from cotton. Wool or synthetics are much better at wicking away moisture and still keeping heat in. Cotton in the Interior is a no no. If you are only going to Anchorage, then you can wear cotton. Their temperatures are much more mild then ours though they do have more ice on their roads. Once we hit winter, we just have clear roads or snow pack as there is no warming period to melt anything to create ice. Good luck and have fun.

Alaska
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6. Re: january in alaska

You are coming at an unusual time of year, so you will be in for a rare experience indeed. You have the opportunity to have much more contact with locals than most tourists, so take advantage of that and chat them up as much as possible. You stand a good chance of getting invitations to local events and happenings that only local people participate in.

Fly in to either Fairbanks or Anchorage, where ever the cheapest or most convenient ticket takes you. They have cabs and rental cars in both towns.

Stop at the local sport store if you want to rent true cold weather clothing for the three weeks, or buy it at the local thrift store (Salvation Army or Value Village are only two of many) and then give it back to them at the end of your trip. Rentals, perhaps check REI or Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking (AMH) in Anch. or Beaver Sports in Fiarbanks.

You may even happen upon a bed and breakfast to book the beginning and end of your trip where the people may have enough good clothing to loan you an outfit or assist in assembling one.

I suggest arriving with a stocking cap, gloves, several layers of sweater/ jacket and several layers of dry socks to put on upon picking up your baggage and leaving the air terminal. Upon arrival it will strike you as cold to begin with and will take several days for your body to adjust to the change in temperature. Perhaps even a suit of long underwear will be a good start if you already own such a thing. In the cities you will always be close to a heated cab or building

Now landing in Fairbanks, I would recommend a trip to the Chena Hot Springs, the University and the Geophysical Institute if nature and the Northern Lights interest you.

The train and Seward are also great suggestions, so you could consider separate rental cars in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Don't worry about safety in driving as once you are properly dressed, the greatest danger is past. In cold temperatures motorists are very quick to stop and check on anyone appearing to be in distress. You might even consider renting a cell phone (mobile phone) for the duration of your trip if you want that security.

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7. Re: january in alaska

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