After many Alaska destinations saw an increase in traffic last winter, operators are gearing up for this year's aurora viewers, skiers, dogsledders and snow machine riders with a full slate of seasonal options.
The Alaska Railroad is expanding its winter-season train service for the fifth year in a row, adding new Thanksgiving-week departures in 2018 and increasing service to six days a week in March 2019.
John Hall's Alaska updated its Alaska's Winter Wonders and Iditarod & Aurora Adventure tours for 2019, building flexible adventure days into each itinerary and introducing overnights at Borealis Basecamp outside of Fairbanks.
Fairbanks-area Aurora Bear tours has revamped its photography workshops for the upcoming winter season. Led by aurora photographer and co-owner Frank Stelges, the company holds classes that teach novice and advanced photographers to capture northern lights images. This year's tours will be smaller than in the past, which gives guests more one-on-one coaching time with Stelges. Travelers can use their own gear or rent Nikon cameras, lenses and tripods.
Leaf Out Nature Guides is adding snowshoe and nature hikes in the Fairbanks region this season. As they explore, guests will learn about the boreal forest, discover medicinal and herbal plants in the area and spot wildlife active in the winter. Standard snowshoe, aurora and full-moon tours last two hours; extended, customized excursions are also available.
South of Fairbanks, about seven miles from the Denali National Park and Preserve entrance, Tonglen Lake Lodge now has five rooms available for winter bookings. The shared-bath accommodations are outfitted with down comforters, 600-thread count sheets, robes, towels and bath amenities, and include internet access, use of kitchen facilities and two living rooms, and access to a large deck for nighttime aurora viewing.
To make winter-weather travel easier for out-of-state guests, Tonglen Lake Lodge has also partnered with Traverse Alaska to offer guided three- or four-night stays.
Set between Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Sheep Mountain Lodge is launching guided snowmobile tours of the Glacier View area this winter. The full-day excursions, offered in partnership with Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours, start from the lodge and travel to the Nelchina Glacier.
Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours also created new multi-day snowmobile outings that explore the nearby Eureka region and travel along the Iditarod Trail.