Alaska Journals

Alaska in Winter

Best of IgoUgo

A March 2011 trip to Alaska by AmandaGal

Ramada Anchorage Downtown Photo, Anchorage, Alaska More Photos
Quote: From Anchorage for the Iditarod start to Fairbanks for The Alaska World Ice Championships

Santa Claus House

Attraction | "Santa Claus House, Chena Hot Springs, Ice Bridge, Denali"

Santa Claus House Photo, Fairbanks, Alaska
Quote:
Santa Claus House could be the biggest tourist trap in AK, but it was fun. If you like Department 56, Christmas ornaments and letters from Santa, it's for you. There are some fun opportunities for photos and real life reindeer. It'd be a great place for kids.I found Chena Hot Springs overpriced and not worth the drive. The roads were really bad, for one thing (March) and when you get there, it's just a hot spring and lots of cheesy tourist things. I guess maybe I'm not impressed because we have hot springs where I'm from too. It was kind of neat to see ducks swimming near 15 inches of snow. We had lunch there, and it was just ok.The Chena River is solid ice in March and ...Read More

Santa Claus House
101 Saint Nicholas Drive
Fairbanks, Alaska 99705
(907) 488-2200

Northern Lights - Dancing in the Sky

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Story/Tip

Aurora Borealis Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
One of the things I wanted to do while in Fairbanks was see the Northern Lights. I thought it wasn't going to happen, because I read more trip reports of people not seeing them at all or just barely seeing green bands than I do of people seeing them. Apparently, the last few years the solar activity has been low.It's not something you can really plan around. Weather on the sun is like weather on earth, unpredictable that far in advance, so I planned my trip and hoped for the best. A few weeks before my trip, I saw reports of a possible storm that would reach earth around the time I was going. Yes!The storm happened. It was early according to the reports, so it wouldn't be ...Read More

Northern Sky Lodge Mushing Adventure

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Story/Tip

Northern Sky Lodge Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
I had planned to go mushing with Paws for Adventure, but I read about Northern Sky Lodge on Trip Advisor. The price was about the same and Pascale seemed really nice in the emails so, I decided to book the tour. We had four people in our group and she accommodated us all. We went out two teams at a time.First, she geared us up with anything we might need. I suggest you dress as warm as you think you'll need to be. She'll let you know if you need anything else. I was pretty much set, but she suggested I switch my parka out for a short coat and wear a balaclava. I probably really didn't need it because it was pretty warm. She gave shoes and coats to some other people in my group....Read More

World Ice Art Championship

Attraction | "Alaska World Ice Championship"

World Ice Art Championship Photo, Fairbanks, Alaska
Quote:
The entire reason I decided to go to Alaska this year is the Alaska World Ice Championship. I've heard about this competition most of my life and always wanted to go. Around the end of last year, I read 2011 may be the last year for the competition because of issues with sponsorship and issues of use with the ice park land. I decided I had to go, or I might miss my chance forever.The ice park was more awesome in person than photos or videos can ever show. The sculptures are so detailed and intricate and some of the single block sculptures really made me scratch my head. How did they make that with one block? There really were artists from everywhere represented. The kid's...Read More

World Ice Art Championship
1925 Chena Landing Loop, Ice Park
Fairbanks, Alaska
(907) 451-8250

Seward Highway Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
We drove up to Seward the day after the Iditarod Ceremonial start to go on a Resurrection Bay tour. The drive was not that bad. I had been warned about Turnagin Pass, but it wasn't that bad either. It was very scenic and we pulled over a few times to take photos.The drive was worth it, but I'm not sure if the winter tour was. We saw some stellar sea lions, bald eagles and Dall's Porpoise and had a great lunch, but it was kind of a slow tour overall. Glaciers look like mountains this time of year and you can't really see them calve. Plus there's not a whole lot going on in the bay.I've heard reviews of this tour in the summer (the tour is longer in the summer) that rate it...Read More

Fur Rondy Festival (Iditarod Week)

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Attraction | "Running of the Reindeer at Fur Rondy"

Fur Rondy Festival (Iditarod Week) Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
After the Iditarod was Fur Rondy's Running of the Reindeer. I'd read a bit about this event before and it sounded like fun. The idea was the brainchild of a local radio station and has actually taken Rondy out of the red and made it more popular with the locals. It's the Alaskan version of the running of the bulls. They let about 6 reindeer (I didn't get a good count) loose down 4th avenue while people run from them. Three groups: gals, girls and groups. Most people wear goofy costumes (reindeer costumes, someone dressed up as a carrot, several men wore next to nothing . . . brave guys in 0 degree weather), and it's just a fun, goofy thing to do. Reindeer are a little more ...Read More

Fur Rondy Festival (Iditarod Week)

Anchorage, Alaska

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Iditarod Ceremonial Start"

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
What can I say about the ceremonial start? It was awesome. So much going on. We arrived early, even though we probably didn't have to, to get a good spot. We got there at about 7 a.m. and had 4th street to ourselves. The only ones there, more or less, were the mushers getting ready on the back streets. I got in a good position and let my toes freeze for a good while before the start.About 4th street: It's completely covered in snow the night before the Iditarod (and they start around 10ish probably). We found that out the hard way on the way home from the Melodrama. Fourth is a major thoroughfare and there's not a whole lot of places you can get without traversing it. They were plo...Read More

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
400 D St (start)
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
+1 907 346 5155

Alaska Zoo

Attraction | "Alaska Zoo: Cool Animals, Sub Zero Temps"

Alaska Zoo Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
My crew comes from the Little Rock Zoo, so we had to check out the Alaska Zoo. It's a very small zoo, and we were thankful. It was below 0 when we started, but warmed up to around 10. The Alaska Zoo is a nice way to spend a few hours. We were surprised that all of the animals seem to be bigger than animals in the lower 48. For example, the wolves were huge compared to those we'd seen at other zoos. Even the red fox was large. They were also very active, so they must love the sub zero temperatures. Snow leopards are one of my faves and normally when you see one, he's just laying in the exhibit. This snow leopard was actively climbing and even chuffing. The wolves were ...Read More

Alaska Zoo
4731 O'Malley Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99516
+1 907 346 3242

Rondy Melodrama

Story/Tip

Rondy Melodrama Photo, Alaska, United States
Quote:
We came to Anchorage for the Iditarod, but I learned about Fur Rondy while researching. I was really excited about the Running of the Reindeer, but locals say the Melodrama is a can't miss. I'm all for cheesy theater, so I got tickets in advance for Friday night.I expected something like Rocky Horror or the Room from the descriptions. Lots of people in costume, lots of interaction, throwing stuff at the characters, etc. It was a lot like that, but on a smaller scale. If you've ever seen a Rocky Horror showing, everyone gets into it, everyone dresses up, etc. This was a little smaller, but still a blast.Audience participation was encouraged. You were even encouraged to th...Read More

Ramada Anchorage Downtown

Hotel | "Ramada Downtown Anchorage"

Ramada Anchorage Downtown Photo, Anchorage, Alaska
Quote:
We arrived late into Anchorage because of flight delays. It was a little past midnight and our plane was supposed to arrive at 2 p.m. the previous day. The plus side is that we got to ride on Alaska air. We weren't going to, but because of delays, Alaska Air was the only one leaving out of Seattle for Anchorage.When we arrived, we were tired, the roads were icy and I didn't much feel like driving. We made it to the hotel after a brief detour from the parking lot to the freeway. There's parking behind the Ramada, but the main lot was full. Somehow I missed the back lot parking.We were greeted by friendly hotel staff and a moose. A pregnant female moose was across the stre...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 14, 2011

Ramada Anchorage Downtown
115 East 3rd Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
907-272-7561