Alaska in the winter is probably not the first place on everyones adventure bucket list, but it's totally worth it!
I had never really entertained the idea of going to Alaska before this trip. Originally from Michigan, I'd lived through 25 years of icy cold winters and my first idea of an adventure wasn't going to involve snow! I had a really awesome opportunity through work to travel to Alaska for almost 2 weeks, although hesitant at first, I quickly became excited when my research revealed some pretty stellar places.
Anchorage was where I'd be staying and commuting to a nearby site, as well as doing some work in Wasilla. My boyfriend Derrick was lucky enough to come visit for a long weekend for some adventures.
Taking a drive down Highway 1, it's hard to ignore the grand view of the mountains that surround you. Our first mini adventure was to drive down to Alyeska. It is a small, charming ski town that offers scenic tram rides from the Alyeska Resort to the top of the mountain. There is an observation deck that offers some breath-taking panoramic views, and is a great place to enjoy a quick bite to eat! Don't worry, you don't have to eat outside in the dead of winter, they have a cozy restaurant with floor to ceiling windows for enjoying the view while staying warm!
The blanket of clouds was so high, only the tips of the mountains were visible. After some scenic photos and a quick bite to eat we were headed back down to earth. During our drive down Highway 1, wildlife was abundant. Bald eagles swooped above our car and white dall sheep were found tucked on the mountain ridges along the road. Highway 1 also takes you south towards Seward and Homer which were two cities on our list that we didn't make it to.
Our original intention was to do a glacier tour, unfortunately the snow was too deep and those tours were not being offered at the time of our visit. We decided to take scenic mountain tour with Glacier City Snowmobile Tours. There were plenty of trails to bomb around on as we followed our guide.
Once we finished up our tour, it was time for dinner. A close spot loved by the locals called the Double Musky Inn was perfect! Yelp reviews suggested we get there early to avoid the lines, and I'm so glad we did! Immediately after we arrived, cars started piling in and soon the line was almost to the street!
This quaint, historic restaurant had great service and is nationally recognized. The interior is full of quirky things which perfectly reflects the hippie, laid back town of Girdwood of which it's located in. The food is a bit pricey but it's worth the experience.
We took a chance at doing an air tour over Mt. Denali. The weather had been iffy the whole day, very cloudy and overcast took over the skies. The staff at Talkeetna Air Taxi were super helpful in helping us decide if the tour was worth doing due to the weather conditions. Not feeling pressured, we decided to proceed with the tour and accepting that we wouldn't get to see the tips of all of the mountains. We had some time to kill before our flight so we wandered the tiny town of Talkeetna and had breakfast at the famous Roadhouse.
After breakfast, it was finally time to board the aircraft. Blankets were passed out for the ride, and we headed outside to our plane. After a quick safety briefing we were on our way!
We boarded the tiny plane with 2 other guests, it was like we had the whole thing to ourselves! Derrick was able to sit in the front seat with the Pilot, which he was thrilled about! We were soon in the air and on our way to see the mountains. Our tour guide was amazing, very knowledgeable and personable. As we were making our way around the mountains, the wing tips looked like we were going to crash into the mountains. From above you could see glaciers, several mountains, and our tour guide pointed out where the planes land for glacier tours in the summer months. It was definitely the highlight of the trip and is worth checking out!
One long weekend isn't nearly enough time to take full advantage of the adventures that Alaska has to offer, it's just enough to keep you wanting more. After spending time here in the winter, a summer adventure is making its way to the bucket list!