Visiting in Winter
Although many people think visiting Alaska in winter is insane, there are plenty of good reasons for doing so. It just takes a bit of an adventurous spirit and proper clothing.
The northern lights (aurora borealis) are active all year long, but it has to get dark before you can enjoy them. On a clear night these shimmering curtains of color in the sky are absolutely breathtaking: rippling reds and greens and blues that seem to make the entire sky come alive. Weather and solar activity have to cooperate in order to make the aurora performances happen, but when they do, the results are astounding. To check out aurora borealis activity, look up the forecast at www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast.
There are almost no insects in the winter months; if you've visited in summer and been subjected to the mosquitoes, no-see-ums, and white socks, this alone might entice you.
For a real Alaska winter experience, dog mushing is the ultimate. Spectators can watch sprint and long-distance races all over the state, capped off by the Yukon Quest and Iditarod races in February and March. There are numerous outfits in the Interior and South Central that will train you to mush your own team. Fodor's discusses dog mushing and surrounding competitions with the expectation and hope that all the animals are treated with care and respect. And if you hang out with serious mushers, you'll see that their animals are more pampered than the average Park Avenue poodle.
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