This past summer there was a massive sale on flights from NY to Anchorage , and right when i saw that i jumped on it and booked tickets for November (last week) with 3 other friends. There was one Problem, November is the wrong time to go to Alaska!! i did some research , but i couldn’t do much since the prices were going higher by the minute. I tried reading through this thread but there was no proper trip report for the winter and i guess i just TOFTT and here goes:Sunday:
6 AM flight out of LGA connecting Through ORD. All 4 of us had a bag (and food) + one big box of food that we brought with. They each weighed about 70 lbs or so! Thank G-d i have status with AA and i am allowed 3 bags up to 70lbs along with the complimentary upgrade i got until ORD which allowed me an additional bag and one of the guys had a citi AA card which gave the 5th bag free. A little tip to the curbside check in guy and are few extra pounds above 70 were fine
Arriving in Anchorage, it was cloudy and snowy. The first snow fall of the season came that morning and all the roads were slippery and dangerous. Weather was in the low 20’s.We went straight to hertz to pick up a 4WD - Tahoe - which was redeemed using 4400 Hertz points for the week (saved us $1100) and hit the road for a long drive to Fairbanks. We stopped at the Chabad in Anchorage and dropped off some stuff they asked us to bring from NY and took a small tour of the nice building. Very welcoming rabbi and Rebbetzin. They invited us to come Friday night and eat with them which was nice.Fairbanks:
- Sunrise 9:15am / Sunset 3:58p
7 hours later in snowy and carful night drive we arrived in Fairbanks and checked in to the Holiday inn express which was cheap and comfortable and we booked it an hour before we got there. In general every night we were spontaneous , so we would book the hotels online right before we got there. Morning came in Late Monday:CHEENA HOT SPRINGS
- An hour and half drive east from the city but worth it. its a pleasant drive and decent scenery. The hot springs is a pool of water in middle of a bunch of rocks which is naturally hot and really relaxing. The weather was 6 degrees outside and we got into our bathing suits and jumped in! really cool - Entrance Fee: $15 per person (unless your a guest at the resort there) and bring your own towel or it costs $5 more for a small towel.ICE MUSEUM
- before we entered the hot springs we signed up for the 1 o’clock tour of the ice museum and we opted for the $15 apple martini in glass cups which is pretty cool. The ice museum was warmer then outside as it was 20 degrees indoor and everything is made of Ice . Really nice sculptures. - its quite small though. Entrance fee - $20 per person (i think)
There are other things to do there but didn’t look interesting. We drove back to the city and night fell. We checked in to the next hotel and waited till about 11pm where we left to go try and find the Northern Lights……We drove far out into the deep night away from all city lights and the temperature got soo cold there, about -15 degrees! . We couldn’t find the lights so we just hung out in the snow a bit and headed back to Hotel.Tuesday
The plan was to go to talkeetna 4 hours south and take a plane ride around Denali but we left Fairbanks too late so we scheduled for the next day.
We drove down towards Denali. An hour in to the ride the view became gorgeous! We didn’t know what the view was since we drove through the night on the way in. It just got nicer and nicer. Amazing mountains covered in snow. Just driving around like that is worth it to go there. Passing through Denali everything was shut, all stores, kiosks, and attractions are boarded up or gated for the winter. Really deserted. we also had the highway to ourselves almost the whole week!. We entered Denali National Park, but 3 miles in it was closed off.
and only on park ranger around which pulled us over but thats for a diff time
So we found a nice little spot with a gorgeous view and parked for lunch. After lunch we continued down the beautiful highway towards Talkeetna township where we found online a bed and Breakfast which id defiantly recommend you go to.
Its called Overlook inn. It overlooks the mountain view line of Denali. Google them, its a little hard to find them at night, but we managed. Its a big house (building) 4 stories and an older sweet couple taking care of it. They have different options for rooms which obviously all include a non kosher breakfast. We took the biggest suite which had a queen size, a pull out sofa bed, a twin bed on top level of room (studio style) and a blow up mattress. - Best view from there. The whole house was empty and the couple stayed away so we had the whole thing to ourselves. Theres a very lounge comfy lounge space thats supposed to be shared but was empty. couches , game tables, furnace, dining table all wooden and nice, and a beautiful large kitchen which we used to make our own BBQ n stuff. price for the suite was $219 (split by 4)Wednesday
The Denali plane ride place called us and told us the weather was too cloudy and they canceling flights….so we didn’t do it. Continued driving down south towards anchorage and stopped in whissler. (where Sarah Pallin lives) Nice little town. Nothing really to do there so we drove another hour and half to Matanuska Glaciers. MATANUSKA GLACIER
- it is a must in the winter. (and summer prob) its a gorgeous drive -diff then denali highway - at mile marker 102 theres a place there where they give tours and stuff which we went on. It was a snowmobile with a big sled in back which had benches on it and he took us around all the glaciers until night fell. AMAZING place!! Glaciers are really cool, we got to go in them and around and on top. Don’t miss it.
We then drove another 3 hours past Anchorage to Seward. They say the view is unbelievable there, but we knew we’d see it on return. The nice thing was that the full moon was out and very bright so we were able to see the mountains in the moon light which was also breathtaking .
Checked in to the holiday inn Thursday:
We woke up to no snow! Seward is all the way south so it was just nice and cool. The funny part was that 10 min north when you leave Seward its all snowy. We drove around but there was nothing to do besides look at the scenery and town that was all closed up. There is an exit nearby thats called exit glacier which we planned on going there but they closed it that morning. So we started drive north west to Keenai. about an hour and a half. This drive was also beautiful and the best spot was the frozen lake with mountains surrounding it 360 degrees at the fork where you can go down to Keenai. KEENAI
- had bad weather. small blizzard and annoying. - We went to Walmart there and got some pans and coals to make a BBQ on the Frozen snowy deserted beach. When Night came we decided to go closer to anchorage so we don’t get stuck for shabbos was it comes in at 4pm
We decided to go to Whittier for the night. we googled a place to stay there and found June’s Suites. which she has a bunch of rooms on top of the tales t building there and over looks the small tiny town. We paid like $135 total for Queen size, 2 x twin and couch .WHITTIER
- its a small town that originally was trying to hide from Japanese! weird if you ask me
The road to get in is really interesting. You need to enter a one way - one lane tunnel that is supposed to accommodate two way traffic and a train. So they set up times for each direction and train. - Every 15-30 min one side gets to go through. Even though it was empty theres a gate closed so we couldn’t just go . When we did go the speed limit is 25 and i went about 50 - which i only found out later i was being watched when a cop found me at the hotel and asked why i was speeding. but he was cool, no ticket, he was just telling me to be careful and welcoming me to his ton cuz he’s the only cop there!! - the town is walking distanceFriday
We drove about 10 miles to Alaskas Animal Recreation Center. Entrance fee per person is $12 or $35 for a full car. We were lucky that we saw one brown bear, because now the bears are all in hibernation. but there are many other interesting animals you don’t see at your local zoo. besides that the view surrounding you just makes you want to stay there! - on the way up to anchorage we stopped in gird wood where they have Aleyeska Ski resort , but skiing was closed until the 28th of november so no skiing!
Made it to anchorage an hour and half before shabbos - took a hotel suite behind the chabad house. Raddisson inn - $160 for 2 queens , a pull out couch and a roll away . Friday night
: No minyan at Chabad , and we walked to Rabbis house for a nice meal. Shabbos Day
: 10 am Minyan at Chabad and nice full fledged Kiddush - by the time your done your cholent shabbos is almost over!Motzei Shabbos:
The Jewish federation had a massive fancy dinner (450 ppl ) and an auction with 800 + items. So we just stopped by to show support and helped out with the Jewish Classical Chassidic Dancing - Then went to shower up and headed for the Airport for a midnight flight with a stop in SEA (and a complimentary upgrade from there)
Landing in NY at 50 degrees was the hottest 50 degrees I’ve ever felt!! OVERALL
: Don’t go in November - if your not sure Seward or Denali (south or north) its a tough call cuz i like to see it all but i personally liked the south view a lot more although some may disagree.
Cell phone service - we had in al the cities 4G LTE (at least i did with Verizon) and on road 3g or 1x and then an hour out of city Dead service. Tip
: when its freezing outside , make sure you have a nice bottle of whisky or tequila as it really feels amazing!