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Summer Recreation and Winter Sports Light up the Skies of the Alaskan Frontier
While the official sport of Alaska is dog mushing and the yearly Iditarod brings in people from all over the world, Alaska is full of summer recreation in the pristine lakes and trails that thread its scenic mountains. Choose from activities like kayaking, hiking, biking, and fishing or play golf at 4:30 AM. Although the summer season is short, the long hours of sun mean that there’s more time for you to enjoy sports in the great Alaskan outdoors.
Winter comes sometimes as early as September and offers plenty of snow for skiing, snowshoeing and hockey. Snow machining is another favorite of the locals, which basically means plowing over trails on a snowmobile or sled. Ice skating is a state-wide pastime and of course, nothing can beat the lights of aurora borealis overhead.
Summer Recreation in Alaska
Imagine the sun sparkling over majestic reflections of mountains in the water all around you while breathing in fresh coastal air. Kayaking along the coastal passage near quaint little towns like Ketchikan is the perfect way to get acquainted with the bountiful wilderness that encompasses most of Alaska. Kayak tours in Ketchikan include the sea passage to Orcas Cove or at the nearby Misty Fjords Monument where you can paddle alongside towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls.
Hiking and biking trails are at their best in Alaska’s National Parks and State Forests. Denali National Park and Chugach State Park are on either end of Anchorage and provide self-navigated or professionally guided hiking and biking trails through awe-inspiring mountains. Home to bear, moose and smaller wild animals, no trail is the same and you’ll delight in catching a glimpse of a far-off caribou in its natural surroundings.
Alaska offers you a diverse menu when it comes to fishing. Explore coastal charters out of Seward or near Juneau to spend the day deep sea fishing for halibut and salmon. Inland, you can cast your line in one of many glacial rivers like the Kenai River that flows from central Alaska toward Anchorage and boasts a special breed of rainbow trout.
There are public golf courses near Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Rather than go for a hole in one, golfers often take time to marvel at the imperial landscapes they find themselves in. For breathtaking scenery and 18 holes of greens, Bird Homestead Golf Course in Soldotna and the championship Settlers Bay Golf Course in Wasilla, are two that you don’t want to miss.
Skiing in Alaska
Whether you are an experienced skier or just getting started, Arctic Valley Ski Area, just 10 miles from downtown Anchorage, offers plenty of runs. New Tube Park is great for beginners while advanced skiers can cut down the slopes of Thompson Run.
Further north in the state, Moose Mountain Ski Resort is the largest interior skiing and snowboarding area. Located 15 miles Northwest of Fairbanks, the alpine resort offers 750-acres of slopes ranging from beginner level to black diamonds. Boasting beautiful vistas overlooking the Tanana Valley, Moose Mountain is the only ski resort that uses a fleet of school busses to pull people up their lifts.
Dog Mushing and the Last Great Race on Earth
Dog mushing has been a part of Alaska’s heritage since long before European settlers arrived and remains one of the best ways to get around in rural areas today. Designated as the state’s official sport in 1972, there are many places that provide visitors with the opportunity to try their hand at racing sleds. The Alaska Mushing School, a 75-minute drive north of Anchorage and Black Spruce Dog in Fairbanks offer you the chance to sit in and drive dog-led sleds. If you are visiting Alaska in March the annual Iditarod, often called ‘the last great race on earth’, runs from Settler's Bay to Nome in the far Western part of the state.
Arctic Valley Ski Area
Located just 10 miles from downtown Anchorage, the Arctic Valley Ski Area offers some of the best mountain skiing opportunities in the region.
The ski area encompasses over 500 acres of winding trails – like New Tube Park for beginners, Powder Town for intermediates, and advanced trails like Thompson Run.
Summer visitors looking for some Arctic fun of their own; fear not – recreational activities like hiking Rendezvous Peak Trail and getting views of Anchorage Bowl are a great way to experience the Alaskan scenery.
Guests are encouraged to visit during one of Arctic Valley’s frequent event as well.
Bird Homestead Golf Course
Set against the Chugach Mountains, the Bird Homestead Golf Course is an 18-hole championship golf course in southern Alaska. Located in Soldotna within the Funny River area, the course has a par of 37 at nine holes.
Spanning 3,194 yards, the Bird Homestead Golf Course bustles from June through mid September. The site also features the Water Driving Range, Thrifty Thursdays, and fishing within walking distance.
Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center
Set in the Mat-Su Valley, the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center is located in southern Alaska in the city of Wasilla. Formerly the Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complex, the Sports Center was created for year-round sports thanks to its state-of-the-art indoor arenas.
Constructed in 2004, the 102,000-square-foot facility features a NHL-regulation ice rink, kitchen area, meeting rooms, and an indoor track and artificial turf court.