October 5, 2022

ilpuntontc

Just Do Travel

Alaska Winter Tour Ottsworld

15 min read

I first traveled to Alaska in the summer – as most people do. I fell in love with the people and the landscape – I personally think it’s America’s most beautiful state and consistently falls in my top 5 places to visit in the entire world. I was always intrigued about how people lived there in the winter and what they did – so much so that I did my first Alaska winter trip in 2018.

That’s when I really fell in love with Alaska in the winter.

Since then I’ve been back 2 more times and it gets better each time! As I have shared my adventures there, I consistently get asked by readers to set up an Alaska winter tour.

I’ve finally found a company that I wanted to work with, Salmonberry Tours, that fit my travel mentality who could help me put a customized tour together! This Alaska winter tour includes the best and most unique winter experiences Alaska has to offer!

Why Alaska in the Winter?

Most people don’t think about going to Alaska in February.  After all, it’s the coldest, snowiest, and most remote destination in the United States .  But I’m not most people.  I like to travel to the remote corners of our globe because that’s where you find the most epic experiences and environments. 

While most people are dreaming of beaches to escape winter in February, I dream of the northern lights, sled dogs, hot chocolate, and snowcapped mountains. Winter in Alaska is when you find the real Alaskans, the full-timers and heartiest of locals. You’ll have the chance to meet them and spend time with this hearty bunch when you travel with me.

alaska winter tour denali

Ottsworld Alaska Winter Wonderland Tour

 If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing the northern lights, mushing your own team of Alaskan Huskies, seeing North America’s tallest peak covered in snow, hiking on a glacier, and learning how to play the winter sport of curling – then skip the beach this winter and start knocking things off your bucket list  with my Ottsworld Alaska Winter Tour February 2023.

What makes this ‘Ottsworld’ worthy? I must confess – that I am sort of a travel snob. I don’t like to do the ‘expected’ or see the typical sights; I like to seek out the unusual, and less traveled (which is why I love to go to Alaska in the winter!). I’ve worked together very closely with Salmonberry Tours to put together an itinerary that impresses even me!

Here’s what you can expect:

Alaska Trip Highlights February 11 – 17, 2022

Aurora Viewing

The northern lights are so prolific in the Fairbanks region and the Arctic that visitors who stay a minimum of three nights and are actively out during the late evening hours increase their chance of seeing the aurora to more than 80 percent!

And that’s exactly why we’ll have 3 nights of aurora chasing in Fairbanks to start off the trip! Plus – there are good chances we’ll see the lights in Denali, Talkeetna and by the Matanuska Glacier.

You can read more about why Fairbanks and Alaska are the perfect place for Aurora viewing here.

One of the nights we will also get specific northern lights photography instruction for those interested in learning how to photograph the northern lights.

Glacier Trekking

Another bucket list item for many – there’s nothing like standing in front of, and on a glacier. The size and power of this magnificent natural wonder is humbling. We’ll spend a whole afternoon hiking on and learning about the Matanuska Glacier.

Learn to Curl

We’ve all seen it during the winter Olympics – the strange and foreign sport of curling. I am always intrigued by things that are specific to a region – and the sport of curling is definitely specific to the far north. You’ll have a chance to not only learn about the sport – but you’ll also get to try it yourself! It may look simple on TV – but you’ll be surprised at how challenging – and FUN – it is! We’ll head to the Fairbanks curling center, meet local curlers, and get hands on in this unique sport!

Winter Adventure Experiences: Dogsledding, Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling

Not only will you learn about the most iconic winter Alaska opportunity – dog mushing – but you’ll get to mush your own team of dogs through the forest! Anyone can sit in a sled and ride – but you’ll have the chance to ‘bark’ out commands and lead the team yourself as you learn to mush with dogs who race in the iditarod!

Most people think that Denali National Park is only open in the summer, but it’s actually open year around! Winter is a great time to visit Denali National Park as the crowds have all left, and you’ll find that you have the place to yourself! We’ll be going there to get iconic views of Denali while snowshoeing around the park.

You’ll also have the opportunity to travel around the Alaska wilderness like a local – on a snow machine! We call them snow mobiles, but if you want to fit in while traveling in Alaska – you better call it a snow machine!

Local Flavor

Throughout all of these experiences you’ll meet and spend time with locals who will educate you in all things Alaska winter. Alaska may be technically a part of the US, but I always think it feels like another country because the culture is so different than the lower 48.

Dates of Tour

February 11 – 17, 2023. We start in Fairbanks, and end in Anchorage which will give you a vast look at the state. You can also easily extend your trip on either end and spend more time in a specific area or I’m happy to suggest additional activities. Salmonberry has a number of additional day tours and great things to do around the area too.

Beginning/Ending Point

Fly into Fairbanks (FAI) February 11, 2023
Fly out of Anchorage (ANC) February 17, 2023 Afternoon

Space is Limited

NOTE!! This is a small group tour with a max of 10 people. We must fill up the tour for it to run. So once you put down a deposit, it will hold your spot. We don’t suggest you get airfare yet until we can confirm a full trip.

What’s Included

  • All lodging
  • All Transportation
  • Practically all meals (7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners) No alcohol is included except for at Denali Brewing Company
  • All listed excursions (3 aurora viewing tours, snowshoeing, ice sculpture tour, curling lesson, dog mushing, and glacier hike.
  • Access to a full gallery of photos (shot by me!) of the entire trip, you can use for personal purposes.

What’s Not Included

  • Airfare
  • 1 Dinner and 1 Lunch
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Flightseeing in Talkeetna (optional activity)
  • Snowmobiling at Sheep Mountain Lodge (optional activity)
  • Muskox Farm Visit (if time permits)
  • Tips for guides
  • Travel Insurance

Cost – $3,799 USD

Cancellation Policy

Salmonberry cancellation policy: A 50% deposit is required to start the booking process. The remaining balance is processed 60 days prior to travel. Cancellations must be made via email. If canceled outside 60 days, a $100 per person fee applies. 60-31 days there is a 10% processing penalty, 90% refund is provided. Inside 30 days, the travel package is non-refundable.

I strongly suggest you get travel insurance for any of your travels. Here’s more info on travel insurance. I use Allianz Travel Insurance for my own personal travels.

How to Book This Tour

This is a custom tour I’ve arranged with Salmonberry Tours. In order reserve your spot you’ll need to put down a deposit – 50% of the total trip cost – $1,899.50. Please follow these steps:

Contact Salmonberry tours:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 866.681.0209
Ask for Glenda and tell her you’d like to put a deposit on the Ottsworld Custom Tour running February 11, 2023. Easy!

Who Should Consider This Tour?

Ottsworld Alaska winter tour
  • People who like to explore the lesser-known places, and be adventurous and active.
  • People who are flexible.  You should be willing to exhibit flexibility, as itineraries may change due to weather, the aurora may not come out – and it helps if you have a ‘willing to try new things’ attitude.
  • People who enjoy cold weather activities and being outdoors.
  • People who can hike at least 3 miles.
  • People who are ok with staying up late to view the northern lights. Often we don’t go out for viewing until 10PM and get back to the hotel at 2AM. But don’t worry – we give you time to sleep in the next morning with late starts the next day.
  • People who are amenable to traveling with others.

What will the Weather Be Like?

You might be surprised to find out that the coastal areas in Alaska don’t get as cold as you think – they rarely fall below 20F except for the occasional storm. Up in the Arctic areas, they don’t get much snow because it’s considered a desert.

However, Alaska’s interior (Fairbanks) does get cold and lots of snow. There you may experience temperatures dipping into the -20F and get lots of snow that will stick around all winter from October through March. All Alaskan’s know that you combat winter weather with the right gear. If you have the right gear – you can enjoy Alaska winter – even in Fairbanks!

What Winter Gear Will You Need to Be Comfortable?

I have written this post about what to pack for Alaska in the winter so please take a look at it – this will give you an idea of the gear to bring and probably include a number of things you hadn’t thought about!

You don’t need to go out and purchase a whole new winter wardrobe though for this trip. Salmonberry Tours actually rents winter gear that is Alaska tough and field-tested on their cold weather tours. At a cost of $250 per person you can rent this package for the entire tour:
● Kavik Talkeetna Down Parka with hood (sizes avail: Men’s S-2XL)
● Snow pants (sizes avail: S-3XL, men’s or women’s)
● Full-hand heavy winter mittens, black
● Pack boot rated to -40F or better (almost any size available)
● Canvas 38” heavy duty duffel with carrying strap

Detailed Day by Day Itinerary

Saturday February 11th – Fairbanks and Aurora Viewing

Included: Dinner
Welcome to the Golden Heart City! Upon arrival into Fairbanks, take the hotel courtesy shuttle to reach our downtown accommodations, If you have rental gear, it will be waiting for you at the hotel. Please try on your rental items this evening, and let us know at dinner that everything fits ok.

We will dine together as a group tonight, and get to know each other. Our Salmonberry guide will be there to go over the itinerary, make sure everyone has the gear they need, and answer any questions you may have. Then after dinner we head out on our first aurora viewing tour!

alaska aurora tour

We aren’t wasting any time – to see the aurora you have to be outside – and the more you are out every night – the more likelihood that you’ll see it. We’ll head to a facility within a popular Northern Lights viewing location outside Fairbanks. Your guide will share the science behind the lights and their significance to Alaska Native cultures, as well as history of the area and personal stories of living in the Great Land. This evening excursion includes round trip transportation to our location, a heated indoor rest area, with snacks, Cup Noodles, and hot drinks to enjoy.

Sunday February 12th – Fairbanks Snowshoeing and Aurora Viewing

Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Today we will head out in the late morning to see a bit of Fairbanks, enjoy lunch at a local eatery, and learn about the a uniquely northern activity of snowshoeing! We will head to Leaf Out Snowshoeing for a snowshoe hike through the boreal forest just outside Fairbanks. We will start and end in their cozy little one room cabin, where you will get to see what dry cabin living is all about. Once everyone is comfortable with their setup and clothing layers, we will head out onto the trails to discover the treasures of the forest.

On our snowshoe walk you will explore the forest, moving through birch and spruce trees, including seeing iconic Alaskan dwarf spruce. We will walk through a winter wonderland looking for animal tracks, learning about local plant uses, and how plants and animals survive life in the cold. It may be winter but there are still birds, mammals, and plants to be found!

snowshoeing fairbanks

Tonight we’ll head out to Aurora Pointe! Well arrive at Aurora Pointe to find a cozy fire, locally made snacks, and hot beverages. Stay cozy inside as guides will let you know if/when the lights appear and you’ll step outside and stand in awe as you witness the unforgettable display of beautiful, eerie colors shifting and transforming against the darkness above. Of course, on some nights Mother Nature keeps the aurora to herself. But youll have several hours to hope for the best. And even on nights when the lights don’t appear, checking out constellations under a vast Alaskan sky is still a magical experience.

Monday February 13 – Fairbanks Curling, Ice Art, and Aurora Photography

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Rest up this morning after two late nights, before exploring downtown for lunch on your own. After lunch we learn to curl! First developed in Scotland, this sport has become popular over hundreds of years, across the upper northern hemisphere. This afternoon we will visit one of the furthest north curling locations in the world, meet local curlers, and try our hand at this fun and addicting arctic sport.

This evening, we celebrate winter with a visit to the Ice Art Park and International Ice Art Exhibition! Enjoy interactive ice sculptures, delight in multiple ice slides and view international ice art exhibitions.

Then we head out of town for another night of aurora chasing! Enjoy an exclusive evening with a professional photographer all evening with you to assist with aurora borealis photography. Your hosts, Frank and Miriam, and their canine companions open their home to you 25 miles from Faibanks and the city lights. Enjoy the silence, remoteness and get a good glimpse of off grid living. No matter if you sit in front of the huge panoramic windows from the comfort of the cabin or head outside to search for aurora. If aurora is strong enough, your photography host will take professional photos of you under the aurora.

Tuesday February 14 – Denali National Park Snowshoeing and Domes

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we’ll head south from Fairbanks to Denali National Park! Bring all of your things and your guide will load everything up and we’ll hit the winter highway. Watch for moose, arctic fox and eagles along the way!

When we arrive in Denali, we’ll head out for a snowshoe hike, followed by lunch and a visit to the Murie Science Center. (note: Murie Science Center has been closed for two winters due to covid-19, but we are optimistic that they will be open this winter)

Denali dome home winter
Photo by Denali Dome Home

Our lodgings for tonight are at the unique Denali Dome Home, a 7,200 square foot geodesic bed and breakfast. The dome has huge windows, 6 common areas and 8 bedrooms with 8 private baths. The Dome Home local hosts, in their 33rd year of service, will provide a home-cooked dinner this evening, and a full breakfast in the morning. And of course we’ll keep watch for aurora sightings that night!

Wednesday February 15 – Talkeetna Dog Sledding, Small Town Life, and Brewery

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning we’ll head from Denali to Talkeetna, another uniquely-Alaskan small town in the wilderness. Visit the homestead of Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey in Talkeetna and tour his kennel of active sled dogs. The tour begins at the kennel headquarters overlooking the dog yard and snowy boreal forest you’ll mush through. Highlights include the hook-up, sled driving demo, and a six mile mush on the same trails that Dallas trains with his Iditarod team. Each two guests will share a dog sled and dog team of Alaskan huskies for your mini-expedition! Or, for those that choose to, ride with an experienced mushing guide.

After your ride, join us for a tour of the homestead, kennel operations and time with the younger husky puppies. Make sure you take plenty of photos with the future Iditarod champions before they’re famous! Finish this unique experience back at kennel headquarters, meeting other members of the professional mushing team and warming up with cookies and hot drinks.

This afternoon we will visit Denali Brewing at this unique location for lunch. Each guest over 21 is treated to a flight of beers so you can sample more than one! For lunch, choose among fresh salads, unique pizzas, and cozy soups.

We’ll stay in cozy cabins tonight and keep a look out for aurora over this remote town!

Thursday February 16 – Sheep Mountain and Scenic Glenn Highway

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today we’ll leave Talkeetna after breakfast. For those who want to get closer to Denali and see one of the most magnificant mountain ranges in the world, there is an option to do flightseeing around Denali National Park.

OPTIONAL TOUR: Guests may choose to add this Denali flight for our morning in Talkeetna.
This winter flight tour explores the southside of the Alaska Range. Your pilot will be your guide and customize the tour based on daily weather conditions as you enter into the heart of the Alaska Range. On this one hour tour, guests will explore endless glaciers, massive mountains and the majesty of Denali itself as you fly by sunning snow-capped peaks and cascading icefalls.

flightseeing talkeetna
Optional Flightseeing Tour

Drive to Sheep Montain. Head east over to Sheep Mountain, on the jaw-dropping scenic Glenn Highway. This is my favorite drive in all of Alaska! This 3-4 hour drive will be full of winter scenery and mountain and glacier views.

Settle in at the remote Sheep Mountain cabins and we’ll keep an eye out for active aurora tonight!

Friday February 17 – Glacier Hiking, Snowmobiling

Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Take a hike on the Matanuska glacier, Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier located two hours north of Anchorage. The Matanuska glacier is a frozen 27-mile river of ancient ice. Thousands of years old, this massive glacier is tucked at the head of the Matanuska valley. You will spend two hours trekking the ice with our expert guides, learning how the Matanuska glacier was born and how it shaped the surrounding landscape.

sheep mountain lodge
Photo courtesy of Sheep Mountain Lodge

This afternoon you may choose to add a snowmachine tour (optional) this afternoon, a helicopter tour, or head out for a hike on your own or with a guide. Another great option is to relax, play cards, and enjoy the scenery!

We will have a scrumptious ‘goodbye’ dinner tonight at the cabins.

Saturday February 18 – Departure from Anchorage

Included: Breakfast
This morning we’ll head back to Anchorage today for flights out. If time permits we’ll make some fun stops outside and in Anchorage. We recommend you to book your flight home for 4pm or later!

What do People Say About Ottsworld Tours

“Definitely a 10! I really enjoyed the fact that the tour was a ‘white glove delivery’ experience- everything was so meticulously planned so we didn’t have to worry about transportation, meals, what we’re doing for the day, or if we’re trying to too much or not enough.”

“Definitely met expectations and also exposed me to things I’m sure I would not have considered if I was planning a trip.”

“This was a wonderful trip!!!!!! Again thank you so much! So appreciative of all the photos you took as well!!!! We look forward to joining you on another adventure.”

Led by Salmonberry Tours

I worked with Salmonberry Tours to put this tour highly customized and unique tour together. They are a local Alaska company, women-owned, and Alaska experts! And best of all they are small but mighty. I love supporting small, local operators when I travel – and I think you’ll love them too. They only hire guides who grew up in Alaska – no transplants – they are experts on the terrain, wildlife, and culture of the state. They will be our guide and driver as we explore the winter wonderland!

How to Book This Tour

This is a custom tour I’ve arranged with Salmonberry Tours. In order reserve your spot you’ll need to put down a deposit – 50% of the total trip cost – $1,899.50. Please follow these steps:

Contact Salmonberry tours:
Email: : [email protected]
Phone: 866.681.0209
Ask for Glenda and tell her you’d like to put a deposit on the Ottsworld Custom Tour running February 11, 2023. Easy!

NOTE: This is a small group tour with a max of 10 people. We must fill up the tour for it to run. So once you put down a deposit, it will hold your spot. We don’t suggest you get airfare yet until we can confirm a full trip.

Questions?

Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with any questions you have about this tour, the experiences, what to pack, etc. I’m happy to answer anything!