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Alaska in the Winter

Minneapolis, MN
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4 posts
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Alaska in the Winter

Don't laugh at me for asking because it's obvious that it gets cold in Alaska during the months Oct through April - but does the whole place shut down then? Is it a ridiculous idea to want to go there in January? Do the hotels, restaurants and parks have any customers to serve? Someone, please, enlighten me! Thanks!

Alaska
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for Alaska
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1. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Well, -40 tends to keep the riff-raff out, so life is a bit better in the winter.

That is left over from my Fairbanks days and it only exaggerates a bit. If you are considering the winter, consider Late February or March. December & January are cold and pretty dark. The longer hours of daylight later in the season offer more hours to see and enjoy the snow.

There are few tourists but those that come get a special treat. It is good to check out the winter festivals in areas that interest you and the dog sled races. They are exciting & fun and a great chance to mix with locals.

Besides, the igloos do not melt so much in the winter. (Igloo is just a word for house, so we all live in them, but the snow igloo was imported from Greenland. You can find most any winter activity you wish.

Any specific questions, or just curious? I am curious about other replies that may come.

'71

Minneapolis, MN
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2. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Thanks '71 - now I don't feel like a dope!

My post was due to curiosity and an interest in someday seeing Alaska. I figure before I get sick of the Winters in Minnesota I would venture to Alaska! Since I'm originally from Atlanta and having lived in MN for just about 4 years now - the snow and cold are still pretty novel for me. That said, around March when I'm used to seeing dogwoods and azaleas blooming, there is still snow flying here. I doubt I'd make a trek to Alaska in March so maybe I should consider August or September. Your thoughts? My husband and I just hiked up Half Dome in Yosemite and I really enjoyed it - except for the realization that I'm not in as good a shape as I used to be! I'm looking for a magical outdoor experience with the luxury of a hot shower and silky sheets. : ) Thanks, Susan

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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3. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Hello! Let's see . . . it's cold and dark and most of us want to leave it at some point and time during the winter. :) Actually, not much shuts down other than the seasonal jobs, such as fishing and the main tourist areas, like Denali. Officially, the National Parks are always open, they just don't offer any services. :) So, the main area of restaurants, hotels, are all closed, but the Park is always open, so you can ski in, etc. But this is only true here in Denali. In Healy, a few of our eateries close and many B&B's only take summer guests, but some are open year round. Most hotels/restaurants are open as usual thru out Alaska, and many communities are trying to push winter tourism. Fairbanks is attracting folks w/the Northern lights, ice sculpting, and of course, dog mushing interest is increasing all over the US. It's kind of funny, but some hotels are packed on weekends, as many families travel w/their kids for sports or just a weekend away to use a pool, so you might be surprised if you did come during the winter. Also, weather varies tremendously around this big old state - the North and Interior can/is bitterly cold, but of course, nearer the coast is warmer and the Southeast is way warmer, with snow only at the higher elevations. As the other poster mentioned, coming in March or so when it's not so dark is better and you might check out various activities which are only during certain months. I hope that gives you a better idea of winter in Alaska. :)

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Alaska in the Winter

JUST found out today that Denali Park's Murie Science & Learning Center will be open daily from 10am - 4pm as the winter visitor center and plans are being made to provide interpretive programs on weekends in late November.Riley Creek campground is open year round, but not running water until summer season. Thought I better add the correct information for all you winter enthusiats! :)

Fairbanks, Alaska
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5. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Here in Fairbanks, winter is OUR playtime. Tourists the flock here for the summer are gone with only a small amount for the viewing of northern lights, dog races, and ice art. A large portion of our population works 14 hour days in the summer. We use the summers to get ready for winters. So winter is the time to relax. We have the World Ice Art Championship in March which is AWESOME: http://www.icealaska.com/

The Iditerod and Yukon Quest are major dog races but we also have sprint races every weekend as well as other distance races throughout the season. Two words: Winter Festivals! Chatanika has the Outhouse Races which are a total blast. We have snowmachine races (The Iron Man being a main one) cross country and downhill skiing. Oh don't forget snowshoeing. Winter here is extreme AND fun. It has to be or we would all go crazy!

Minneapolis, MN
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6. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Thank you 1stimestar and coalminer! I appreciate your insight into Alaska. Perhaps my husband and I will come back in the spring time.

jq
Sacramento, CA
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661 posts
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7. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Hi Coalminer

The only problem with winter is that it also gets a little cold around Healy!!!!! Thats when you go down in the mines to warm up, right? Did you say that the denali glitter gulch area closes up in winter or are the big hotels and resturants, etc still open? Do you see wildlife in the winter there or do the caribou all migrate? Bears are taking a snooze? Anything else around? I think Kauai sounds better! Tunnels?

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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8. Re: Alaska in the Winter

Morning, JQ! It's a pretty morning here - still pitch black - 1/2 moon and twinkling stars . . . we just got several inches of fresh snow and it's only about -10 or so. Not bad at all and I love the snow. One of the negative aspects of Healy is we are one of 5 high wind areas in the state, so snow doesn't seem to last long around here.

Don't see bears, but they aren't true hibernators - wake up occasionally. But I see foxes frequently, moose and a few hardy birds-ravens, magpies and chickadees. :) Often you can see caribou near the Cantwell area.

Yes, all the hotels/restaurants in Glitter gulch are closed for business, but the are in the midst of more building - Princess is adding on once again, Westmark, too, I guess and a smaller hotel is going up south of the Park entrance . . . near the Nenana river. So, it's bustling for construction. One of the new restaurants in staying open this winter - Th-Sun, which is a treat for us!

But yes, Kauai always sounds wonderful - to smell that lush, moist, fragrant air and to spend a day snorkeling . . . would love to do that!! :) Finish the day w/some shave ice. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time . . . am so glad. Heading here next summer?? Happy Thanksgiving by the way! take care - coalminer :)