Alyeska Resort: Winter adventure in southcentral Alaska. (Alaska This Month).
Just 40 miles south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway is the Alyeska Resort. Locals know this place as a great source of day and night skiing or snowboarding. Trails are nestled in the scenic Chugach Mountain range and overlook Turnagain Arm. Combine the exquisitely groomed slopes with this month's events schedule set up by resort officials-not forgetting the topnotch Alyeska Prince Hotel--and anyone can find a little piecef winter heaven at the foot of Mount Alyeska. If you haven't seen this part of Alaska, the drive itself is worth the trip.
This year, from Jan. 18-20, is WinterFest 2002. This annual celebration offers an offbeat way to pass the colder parts of January.
"Whether it's sunny and 5 degrees or snowing and 20, there's something fun for everyone," said Celia Baker, marketing manager for Alyeska Resort, Alyeska Prince Hotel. Alyeska has an average annual snowfall at the top of the mountain of 782 inches and 182 at the base. Over the years it has continued as a destination for every level of skier.
The purpose behind WinterFest is to celebrate the halfway point of winter-or at least turning the corner toward warmer times. WinterFest does this Alaska-style, with events like a mountain bike slalom, a polar bear plunge benefiting Challenge Alaska, figure skating on the hotel pond and paragliding exhibitions. This is obviously for those not afraid to get outdoors in the winter. There also are kids' games and activities, a cross-country ski and snowshoe poker run, half-pipe snowboard competitions, a mile-long boarder cross--and, for the calmer types, a wine-tasting and evening parties with live entertainment at the Sitzmark Bar and Grill.
Baker said everything in the WinterFest schedule is designed for a nice mid-winter getaway, and closely follows the January celebration started with the New Year's Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks.
The nearby Portage Glacier and Whittier are located a little further south of Alyeska, making Girdwood a perfect stopover for those heading out on sightseeing trips or looking to find a glacier cruise, opening a whole new road to fun.
For travelers looking for an unmatched backcountry adventure, there is helicopter and snowcat skiing provided on the untouched slopes of the Chugach Range by locals like the Chugach Powder Guides. You also can find great snowmobiling and sled dog tours.