Alaska in March

Nov 1st, 2006, 02:58 PM
  #1  
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Alaska in March

I have a group of four guys who plan to visit Alaska in late March. Looking for itinerary suggestions. As of now, the plan is to fly to Anchorage, spend a few days in the area, drive to Fairbanks, take a flight to the Arctic Cirle (2 days?)and then...

Well, we're open to suggestion. Would be interested in outdoor activities such as can be done in March, scenic lodges,etc.

Thanks all! -Pete

calipete is offline  
Nov 1st, 2006, 06:55 PM
  #2  
 
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World Ice Art Championships,
February 27 - March 25, Fairbanks.

Best viewing of finished sculptures: March 10-18. The Ice Park will be open until March 25, weather permitting.
http://www.icealaska.com
BayouGal is offline  
Nov 1st, 2006, 07:24 PM
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Negative nabob natterings...

Many is the year that late March in Anchorage is the onset of "breakup" - when the melting snow reveals the winter's store of potholes, discarded food wrappers, dog droppings, and dead vegetation. The weather can be okay or miserable; your rental car looks like it got hit by a mudstorm; roads can be clear, or maybe sheets of ice in the morning...

It will still be extremely cold in the arctic - below zero (F) likely or close to it in places like Barrow or Kotzebue.

So... I dunno. Many folk who live in Alaska relocate to Hawaii for a few weeks at about that time. Think they know something?
Gardyloo is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:52 AM
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I have gone to Alaska twice in March, but I too would tell you to avoid late March and get there a week earlier so to enjoy the Ice Sculpters.

My priority was Aurora, so the lodging location was extremely important for me.

For Arctic flightseeing, I too would avoid Barrow, just too extreme at that time, and it's a real ugly town.

One of the most scenic flightseeing I recommend is a trip to Anaktuvak Pass. I've flown with Warbelows on their cargo flights there, just endless beauty.

When I went, I spent a lot of time snowmobiling, including a night run, and dog sledding.

For Aurora, Chena Hot Springs lodge is an ideal location. Good snowmobiling there too.

Request Fairbanks, winter guide www.explorefairbanks.com
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2007, 07:39 PM
  #5  
 
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Budgetqueen -- Have you had good luck re the Northern Lights in March?

I am planning my first Alaska trip for late Feb/early March. Anchorage in the beginning of March for McKinley flightseeing and the start of the Iditarod and then Fairbanks for dog sledding, snowmobiling and, hopefully, northern lights.

Would also like to do a flight up to the Artic Circle - just for the experience. Did the Anaktuvak Pass flight that you took go north?
Thanks
Candace
Mid_age_traveller is offline  
Jan 4th, 2007, 03:31 AM
  #6  
 
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Do yourself a favour - go to www.toursaver.com. The Great Alaskan Toursaver is a book of coupons - very cheap to purchase and FULL OF GR8 COUPONS. For example, we were able to do several trips - buy one get one free so my partner went free on most of our sightseeing trips, eg in Talkeetna, we did a flight over Denali - $350 (and well worth every cent - I would have been very disappointed in Denali without the flight had we only done the ground component). So instead of having to pay $700 for the two of us, $350 is a good deal. I wouldn't hesitate to get the book of coupons again if we were to do another trip to Alaska. Also, there was a coupon for a flight to the Arctic Circle - buy one, get one free. Don't know of course if there will be another coupon the same, but you can find out what coupons are available before you buy the book.


chalclear is offline  
Jan 4th, 2007, 06:37 AM
  #7  
 
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The toursaver won't be very useful for a March trip. Most attractions are closed. And the Arctic Circle trips aren't in the current book- discontinued last year.

Yes, Anaktuvak Pass is above the Arctic Circle and an extremely scenic flight. I highly recommend it. I went on a cargo flight with Warbelows, check with their scheduling as they don't fly there every day.

As for Aurora- you need to invest TIME, I suggest at least 2 weeks if aurora is a priority. Key is to daily- track the predictions. Fairbanks library has free access. http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/

Not only do you need "active" activity, but also CLEAR dark nights. Meaning, even a full moon will impact negatively.

Do yourself a favor and go to dog sledding school, very worthwhile and allows you to drive your own sled, way superior to just riding in the basket. http://www.pawsforadventure.com/

For snowmobiling- I greatly enjoyed going with Tony- http://www.alaskasnowmachineadventures.com/
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 07:24 PM
  #8  
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Thanks for all of the great ideas people!
calipete is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 09:47 PM
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Is there a particular reason you have picked late March for your trip? Gardyloo's description of Anchorage is 100% accurate. I love Anchorage and have lived here off and on for 35 years, and I would never discourage anyone from visiting here, but honestly, late March/early Anchorage is the single worst time of the year here. Why come some place that is known for its beauty and at the one time of year when it is butt-ugly? Just curious.
Eleni is offline  
Jan 20th, 2007, 11:13 PM
  #10  
 
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?? March is the worst month?? I love March! There's nothing "breakup" about it--it's just plain winter, and glorious because of it! I find May much more eggregiously difficult with STILL snow, dirt, mud and barely a green thing to be found. We are so going to have snow into June this year with as much as we have in South Central. Fairbanks, definitely "winter" and also glorious.

The Iditarod? Awesome!! Tons to do!! The Musher's Banquet on Thursday night is not to be missed--you can mingle with the mushers and overhear interesting conversations. You can go mushing with any number of mushers who live along the Parks Highway on your way up to Fbx. I recommend Iditarod veteran Vern Halter (www.vernhalter.com). You might also see if Gate Creek Cabins (www.gatecreekcabins.com) has any availability to take you snowmachining on the right day you'd be passing through. They've been in the national snowmobiling magazines the past couple years and are often booked full. They go into the backcountry south of Denali--great tours.

I wouldn't dissuade you from your attempt to cover the whole state in 4 days (Anchorage to the Arctic) because I agree with your idea to go see the Northern Lights. Last year I was in Fbx in late Feb/Mar and it was outstanding (cold, yes). The ice carving festival was a once in a lifetimer, so great. Then, several nights after dinner we drove north of town to the ridge where we pulled in next to everyone else. We shut off our lights but kept the engines running, laid back on the hoods with a sleeping bag over us and watched for a couple hours. It was the greatest thing I've seen in my life. The colors were intense, and the show went on constantly in several different areas of the sky, one set of movement after another: green curtains, red streaks, white halos, pink spirals, all falling, zooming, you name it. Old timers in Fbx said it was the best show they'd seen in their life. This year's conditions are favorable, also. There's an Aurora Forecast website, too, so you could pick the best days of your short trip to be available to stay up late and watch.

Also, last but NOT least, is the fact that at the equinoxes, our sunrises and sunsets are KILLER and have awesome alpenglow. How much more could you ask for than to be driving along at sunset and look over and see Denali bathed in apricot-peach, changing to coral then flaming orange then slowly fading to violet and indigo (or any of our other thousands of mountains, for that matter). March is off the charts for beauty if you like those things called photographs.

Ok, really lastly, the moose are "out" more because of the deep snow that time of year, so you tend to see more closer to the roads. Oh, did we mention going flightseeing from Talkeetna on your way up to Fbx? Go with TAT (www.talkeetnaairtaxi.com). I think the other poster is correct that you'd be hardpressed to get your money's worth out of the TourSaver in the offseason. Have a GREAT trip!!
AKGardenGate is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 07:07 PM
  #11  
 
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Well, one person's meat is another one's poison!

However, I think you missed the OP's reference to his desire to travel in LATE March. The Musher's banquet this year is March 1, the start of the Iditarod March 3, and the re-start on March 4. If the OP wanted to come in early March, you're right, there would be lots to do. In late March, not so much.

In Anchorage, breakup often begins in late March/early April, depending on the year. For the last two years, we were well into breakup by late March. Any year can be an exception, but someone counting on it being beautiful snowy white winter in Anchorage in late March faces a big risk of being disappointed. It's theoretically possible it will be like that, but it's more likely that it will be precisely as Gardyloo describes above.

I love Alaska, and for other people to enjoy it as well, it is important for those of us who live here to make sure people have accurate expectations so they aren't disappointed.

BudgetQueen's recommendations are excellent, as are the ideas for Fairbanks.
Eleni is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 12:28 AM
  #12  
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We're going in late March because that's the time that I have free (think: spring break).

I'm not all that interested in ice sculptures, btw. Just not my thing.

We have tentatively booked an "Arctic Circle Winter Adventure" that involves a flight from Fairbanks to Coldfoot and then driving back. There are some optional activities there, dog mushing etc. Supposedly a good aurora viewing point as well.

My question is: if it's okay to drive from Fairbanks to Coldfoot, why not just drive both ways? The company we've booked with is called "Northern Alaska Tour Company." Anybody have experience with/knowledge of them??

For now our itinerary is to arrive in Anchorage on 3/22/07, spend the weekend in that area, drive to Fairbanks, do the 3 day arctic circle thing, and then hang around Fairbanks for a few days, possibly stay at Chena.
I'd love to hang around for a few weeks, but we're limited to 3/22 to 4/1 more or less.

Thanks to all responders!

Pete
calipete is offline  
Jan 28th, 2007, 06:53 AM
  #13  
 
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Ya gotta do what ya gotta do...

Note however that there's record snow on the ground in Anchorage this year, so barring unforeseen changes in the next six weeks, there will still be plenty on the ground when you're there, so in a way that's a good thing in terms of scenery. Bad news for Anchorigibles for April -

Unless it's super important to you, I think driving to Fairbanks is not a good idea. In addition to it being (IMO) a boring ride, it can still be very cold in the interior then, and that means the real possibility of icy roads, which can turn a boring ride into a hair-raising one. Instead, if your schedule permits, take the train (Saturdays northbound) as in winter it's a very interesting and scenic way to get between the cities. http://www.akrr.com/arrc18.html#51
Gardyloo is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 06:39 AM
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IF the aurora is a priority, you need to budget at least a week for viewing. But with less time, look at filling up your days with plenty of other activites. One trip had about 8 days out of 14 with aurora available, the other trip had only 1 day out of 14.

I'm not sure of your "drive both ways to Coldfoot"??? But none of the regular rental companies will allow this drive. AND it is NOT recommended for "amateurs". Especially in the winter, the highway is unforgiving. Also don't know about your "dog sledding" availablity?? Would only be available in Coldfoot, Yukon Crossing, Joy etc. most of this highway is desolate with no services.

As for driving both ways with a shuttle service, again, not recommended by me. It takes up an entire day. The road is boring to me. Endless pipeline. The fly/shuttle tours are very well organized and do a great job. I have gone twice with Northern Alaska, no complaints.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Jan 30th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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I am from Alaska, lived here since 1977 & I can tell you you have a 99.9% chance to see Anchorage & South Central Alaska at its worst. Not only will everything have a brown hue but there won't green leave anywhere - if we're lucky the buds may just be starting.

I am taking a vacation departing the end of March to San Diego. We try to do a trip south every year at this time. I never leave Alaska from May through October.
Shea is offline  
Feb 7th, 2007, 09:06 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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I live in Alaska too and agree with the others. This is a beautiful state. The only state that I think is as beautiful is Hawaii. End of March can be lovely or butt ugly. If you don't care about the landscape you can still have a good time but it's between the winter and summer tourist seasons. The roads, especially to the north may be very slick and icy so beware. If you have reasonable expectations you can still have a great time. Just do your homework in advance and know what to reasonably expect.
amdc is offline  
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