With Anchorage receiving an average of 70 inches of snowfall annually and at least six hours of sunlight even on the shortest days of the year, Alaska’s most populous city has several reasons to draw in visitors during the colder months of the year.
“Winter weather in Anchorage is comparable to other northern cities—cold enough to keep snow on the ground, but without the deep freeze of landlocked regions,” says Visit Anchorage’s president and CEO Julie Saupe, and it’s those conditions that create an atmosphere allowing for Anchorage’s diverse offering of wintertime activities.
For skiers and snowboarders looking to hit the slopes, Alyeska Resort, located in the Western Chugach Mountains, offers 1,500 skiable acres, 76 named trails, and for the more ambitious visitors, the property is also home to the longest continuous double black diamond ski run in North America. And if that steep slope isn’t enough for your adrenaline junkie clients, advanced skiers can also opt for some snowcat or heli-skiing adventures with Chugach Powder Guides, an outfitter based at Alyeska Resort. With terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, travelers with less experience can also enjoy a stay at this slope-side property.
Visitors who would rather forego these activities altogether can take advantage of the resort’s rentals for ice skating and fat-tire biking. For an escape from the cold, Alyeska Resort also offers a full-service spa, fitness center, indoor saltwater pool, sauna, and whirlpool.
Nightly rates start at $179 and midweek stays come with free lift tickets. For more information, visit alyeskaresort.com.
Clients who want the experience of backcountry skiing but don’t want to stray too far from the city should head to Arctic Valley, a ski area just a few miles north of downtown Anchorage that offers family-friendly options, such as beginner slopes, tube rides, and other winter activities. For more family-friendly fun in Anchorage, you can also suggest a visit to Westchester Lagoon Skating. Here, your clients will find a natural outdoor skating area with different sections for beginners, figure skaters, speed skaters, hockey players and other activities. When they’re ready to warm up, they can roast marshmallows over the burn barrels or sip on a cup of free hot cocoa. Skating is also free if you have your own equipment. If not, ice skate rentals are available at Play It Again Sports with rates starting at $12 per day. For more information, visit arcticvalley.org, muni.org, and playitagainsportsanchorage.com.
Wintertime visitors to Anchorage can also try their hand at an Olympic sport thanks to the curling lessons available at the Anchorage Curling Club. No prior experience is necessary, and for $20 pp for a 2-hour class, visitors can take part in a Learn to Curl event, where brooms, stones, sliders, grippers, and stabilizers will be provided and guests will leave pushing a broom (almost) like a pro. Travelers who are quick on their feet can also head to Cuddy Family Midtown Park in the heart of Anchorage, where they’ll find an outdoor, long-track speed-skating facility—one of only six in the U.S.—and can give the 400-meter oval a whirl. Skating here is also free.
For more outdoorsy adventures, Anchorage boasts hundreds of miles of trails that can be used for cross-country skiing, skijoring, fat tire biking, and more. These trails meander through city greenbelts and parks passing by mountains and panoramic vistas of the city and Cook Inlet. Visitors can also often spot a bit of Alaskan wildlife like moose, lynxes, coyotes, and more. The outdoor gem of the city, however, is Chugach State Park.
“Chugach State Park, Anchorage’s half-million-acre playground, offers infinite outdoor recreational opportunities in the winter, from backcountry alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing, to snowmobiling, biking, horseback riding and winter camping,” says Saupe.
For more information about Anchorage, visit anchorage.net.