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Alaska for our honeymoon!

Ithaca, New York
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Alaska for our honeymoon!

As you can tell, my fiancé and I would like to plan a trip to Alaska after our wedding. There are quite a few things on our list already, including the Chena hot springs, having a flight onto an iceberg, seeing a kennel / dogsledding, seeing a few museums, an aquarium, maybe a zoo, traveling into the arctic circle, etc. And of course, we'd love to be fortunate enough to see the aurora borealis (this is pretty big on the list). Here's the question- late September 2014 or January 2015?

We are both in our 20s and currently reside in New York state... We both prefer cold over hot temperatures, but when it is -15 outside like yesterday, we question our resolve for an Alaskan January. But my fiancé loves the idea of experiencing it being so dark all of the time, and I would like some snow.... Out of the two of us, I am definitely more adventurous and I'd love to have a few more exciting activities planned, too. Any suggestions are welcome, and thanks in advance!

Edit: I forgot to mention that we would both love to take a train trip at some point, too, but this seems difficult to do in the off-season.

Edited: 23 January 2014, 14:32
USA
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1. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Welcome to TA-AK, rachel & congrats to both of you!

It's helpful for us if you keep all your questions in this one first thread.

The beginning of Sept is one of my favorite times- the tundra fall colors, Denali is still running shutttles, the temperatures are cool, there starts to be a possible chance of seeing the northern lights around Denali, flightseeing with a glacier landing & you can go on a sea life day cruise.

In the winter, I love the beginning of March to watch the start of the Iditirod dog sled race, skiing, snowshoeing & a chance at the northern lights.

For winter, take a look at EarthSong for dogsledding:

http://www.earthsonglodge.com/rates.html

Read through some of the trip reports for different times of the year to get some ideas.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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2. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

How much time do you have for this honeymoon? That would help knowing.

I think I would vote for Fall myself (but early September, not late) . . . either would be doable, but you would be able to see & do so much more during the fall season. And while we are currently having a heat wave here, it can be -50 in January in the Interior, which is brutal and makes -15 seem balmy. March as denalicat mentioned would be better than January.

Ithaca, New York
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3. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Oh, sorry- I think we will only have a week (unless our employers approve two, which is unlikely). I originally wanted to in March, for the reasons you have mentioned, but we were hoping to marry in either September or January. We might have to reconsider, though.

Are snow sports possible at all in September (dog sledding, snowshoeing)? Is there a decent chance for northern lights? Conversely, what are the chances of getting snowed in in January?

I read a really nice travel report of a trip after Christmas that sounded great. Also, I should note that we never wear gloves or boots in our current weather, so I am tempted to say that we might be okay with proper winter gear, which we would get. Haha.

Fairbanks, Alaska
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4. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Hi rachel v and welcome. Speaking for the interior of Alaska and Fairbanks you have a basic spread of our very short autumn and the start of winter. September to about mid-October is a great time to be here if you want to see interior Alaska during the fall. Although it has happened there is not enough snow here for the trails to be of any use. So winter type activities are not really an option.

As for Mid-October thru November we start to really feel the winter coming on yet snow fall may or may not be ample for winter activities. The days normal are cold and could drop down to -20F. If there is no snow fall of any substance Fairbanks is kind of cold, dark, and gloomy.

December there is normally enough snow fall accumulation for winter activities but winter will be in full bloom with normally sub-zero temperature and very little day light. With the days being so short winter activities are very limited.

January is normally downright cold and dark, although it is currently raining in Fairbanks! The only folks that normally arrive during January are the Japanese on their quest to see the Northern Lights our at Chena Hot Springs.

As for checking out the lights they may be out any of those months.

That is why I strongly urge people to visit in March it is almost always the perfect balance of everything, sun, snow, and temperatures.

Chugiak, Alaska
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5. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

'Although it has happened there is not enough snow here for the trails to be of any use. So winter type activities are not really an option.'

Same deal for southcentral (Anchorage area and parts south like Seward, etc).

I'd also tell you to shoot for March. Other than the things Rat mentioned, Fairbanks hosts the World Ice Art Championship at that time of the year:

http://www.icealaska.com/

However, I tend to tell people to skip Chena Hot Springs other than two days and one night. I've found that you can get much nicer rooms at other places with just as good an opportunity (if not better) to see the Lights and for less money. I like Chena for doing things- they rent snowshoes, snowmachines, cross country skis, etc and I LOVE their snow coach tour to the top of the hill. But their restaurant is expensive and it's 60 miles from Fairbanks so unless you want to drive two hours, you're stuck there.

I recommend the Aurora Borealis Lodge. Closer to town (but still about a half hour drive), cheaper, nicer rooms and all of their rooms have windows that face north and aren't in a depression (with a hill in the way of lower Light displays) like Chena. They also have a lodge with a big deck where you can set up your camera, then go inside and watch out the windows until the Lights come out, then go out and enjoy or take pictures.

www.auroracabin.com/EnglishPageOne.html

If I only had a week, I'd do March and I do just Fairbanks with a trip down to Denali/Healy for a dog sled ride with Jon at Earthsong and supper at the 49th State brewery.

You could still do a train ride, if you planned on either flying into Anchorage on a Friday, then hopping the train north on Saturday (long ride, but GREAT views!) then flying out of Fairbanks, or fly directly into Fairbanks, leave an extra day or two at the end, take the train south to Anchorage and fly out of Anchorage on a red eye that Sunday night or the next day on Monday.

Landing on a glacier isn't going to happen, though since it'll be covered in snow and just look like a big snow field. Our only aquarium is in Seward, so that's out if you want to spend most of your time in Fairbanks (recommended if you want to see the Lights), but there are a couple museums up in Fairbanks you can check out.

Personally, my first trip to Alaska was in the Winter (and in January) and I don't regret it at all. I went dog sledding in the 6 hours of day light there was at 30 below and was never cold and had a WONDERFUL time. There are also snow machine tours up in Fairbanks to do during your days. So, you could do a trip in January (I was up there at the start of the month even), but we prefer March.

Oh, and if you do come up in the Winter and want to stay at ABL, book your stay WELL in advance. Many people know of it now and it's in high demand (and they don't have a lot of rooms). Same deal with a dog sled ride at Earthsong Lodge if you come up in March.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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6. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Best wishes for your upcoming nuptials Rachel.

You've received great input already. I just wanted to say I've done Alaska in September and March . . . and loved both for all of the reasons mentioned above.

Ithaca, New York
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7. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Thanks so much- Great information here. It sounds like I just need to straighten my true priorities out to see what we should do! Not so easy, haha... Any other suggestions regarding exciting excursions near Fairbanks, either season?

Anchorage, Alaska
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8. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Left field here...

I'm sure you've already made all kinds of plans, etc.; but I've always liked this aspect about Alaska. Anyone can perform a marriage up here (see: http://www.courts.alaska.gov/comm.htm ). Sort of makes it pretty cool for a couple that might want to elope or that has a very special person in their life that they'd have perform the ceremony. There's so many amazing spots up here that'd make a very memorable wedding (e.g. on a glacier, in a mountain valley, at the base of a waterfall, & more)

Good luck,

Scott

Ithaca, New York
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9. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

Marriage on a glacier would be amazing! I did not know that about Alaska nuptials, so I will definitely be telling my fiancé about it... I know that he probably won't go for it, though, which is too bad... But it's important to his family.

... So I guess earlier September sounds better for travel and non-snow activities. I assumed (wrongly) that we wouldn't have much chance of seeing the northern lights because of the daytime.... I guess I could let go of dog sledding and snowshoeing for hiking and being on a glacier.... Or maybe we can marry in March (which is either too soon to plan or too far away).

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10. Re: Alaska for our honeymoon!

There is heli-dog sledding on a glacier out of Girdwood, but don't know how late in the fall they run.

Check it out:

www.ididaride.com/tours/glacier-dog-sledding/