Alaska – officially one of the US states should be visited in summer as well as in winter. The latter is appealing more for the bravehearts though 🙂 With temperatures dipping down to fifty below zero in some places, it is a tough journey to undertake. But one that brings memories that would last more than a lifetime.
I visited Alaska on a long weekend trip from mainland US (Seattle, which has the cheapest fares at 200 USD returns).
Visa : US visa (any kind).
Currencies : USD
Day by Day plan:
Day 0 (Friday) – Took an evening flight to Anchorage from Seattle. Other friends flew in from San Francisco. There are flights from most major US cities with good connections via Seattle. Landed by 11:30pm and had a free-pickup by hotel shuttle. Checked into hotel and slept.
Day 1 (Sat) – Took the morning train (Denali star) from Anchorage to Fairbanks (8am – 8pm). Costs 190 usd – should be booked well in advance atleast few weeks ago as there are only two bogies. The train was heated well and the views aboard crossing the entire snowbound Denali National Park are unbeatable. There was food service on the train which seemed reasonable.
Train pulled into Fairbanks at around 8pm and we were picked up by the free-shuttle from the hotel. Checking in we had a quick dinner at the hotel as we were picked up by the Aurora lodge shuttle at 10pm. Aurora lodge is 20 miles outside city with no light pollution. Costs 75 usd. The entire day weather had been cloudy but we took a chance and decided to go ahead nevertheless which eventually paid. We saw brilliant dances of northern lights for about 2 hours.
The Aurora lodge was also quite comfortable with a huge viewing window and heated well with free flowing coffee and cookies to munch on. We were dropped back to our hotel at 3am.
Day 2 (Sun) – We were picked up at 1pm from our hotel for arctic circle tour which stops at trans-alaskan pipeline,many other viewpoints, yukon river bridge and arctic circle. Costed 225 usd.
In return we tried to find auroras again but gave since everyone was really tired. Reached back by 3am. Although we went with 1st Alaskan tours, I would still recommend checking out other companies as some have earlier departures and better service. Our van was cold most of the time although the driver kept saying that the heater was on full. Quite chilly means the outsides temperatures -35c and below.
Day 3 (Monday) – We wanted to visit Chena hot springs and ice museum today as previous two days had been quite hectic and tiring but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) there was a snowstorm warning around Fairbanks as it was snowing a lot. We had booked a tour but they cancelled saying the roads are bad and risky to drive during snowstorms (maybe they didn’t wanted to take just 3 passengers) and we cancelled self-drive car since it might be dangerous actually to drive on our own there. So we just roamed in fairbanks city (cafes, visitor centre, museum of the north, handicraft stores etc). Took 11:30pm flight back to Seattle.
Hotels stayed at:
Anchorage – Guesthouse Inn
Fairbanks – Regency Inn (Hotel was okey, the food at grill restaurant downstairs should be avoided though)
Album: Alaska – winter wonderland