Hear about travel to Alaska in winter as the Amateur Traveler talks to Sherry Ott from OttsWorld.com about the state that has captured her heart.
Sherry says, “Thank you for having me back and talking about one of my favorite places in the world winter or summer. There’s so many reasons but let me hit a few: Northern Lights, dogsledding and the Iditarod, fewer crowds. It’s unique. Not many people go in the winter. You feel like you have it really to yourself, this big, vast state. Those are some of the reasons I really love it in the winter. It’s less touristy, I connect more with the locals. I see how they live in the winter. One of the most fascinating things about going to Alaska in the summer or winter, is meeting the locals and seeing how they live in this great frontier because it’s quite different than the rest of the United States.”
Sherry recommends an itinerary that starts in Fairbanks and ends in Anchorage. She starts us in Fairbanks where we have the best chance of seeing the northern lights, or the aurora borealis. The best time of year to come if you want to see the aurora is near the equinox in March or September. Since you can only see the northern lights at night… late at night… she recommends other activities to fill your afternoons and evenings.
Sherry suggests places where you can snowshoe or dog sled. You can even learn to mush a dogsled yourself. Sherry has learned to curl or just curled up with a game and hot chocolate as you wait to see if the aurora will come out.
You can also do an excursion where you fly up past the Arctic Circle and then drive down the Dawson’s Highway to see the aurora, and learn more about the Alaska pipeline.
She recommends taking the Alaskan Railroad which still runs in winter although on a less frequent schedule than in the summer. You can also make a visit to Denali National Park, but the roads will be closed after the visitor center. You can, however, do a multi-day dog sled adventure into the park.
Make a stop in Talkeetna if you want to do a flight-seeing tour of Denali. This is where many of those flights originate. In between Talkeetna and Anchorage stop at a musk ox farm to learn more about these shaggy mammals.
Use Anchorage as a base for a few days. You can take excursions out to a glacier like the Spencer Glacier or the Matanuska Glacier. While you can kayak in front of a glacier in summer, in the winter you can snowmobile right up to the glacier and touch it or even explore ice caves.
Wildlife encounters can happen in Alaska (although you have less chance of encountering a bear in winter). Even just biking around the Anchorage Coastal Trail, Sherry had an unexpected encounter with a moose.
Some of Alaska’s best festivals like the Iditarod, the World Ice Art Championships, Yukon Quest, or Furrondy only happen in the winter.
See if Sherry can talk you into a winter trip to Alaska. She is working on me.
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This episode is sponsored by Cal-Am. With 12 properties across Arizona, Cal-Am Resorts offer experiences designed just for older audiences. Unlike a time share, you buy a home allowing you to come whenever you want and stay for as long as you want. Call Steve Ryerson at 888-883-4609 or visit discovercal-am.com.
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