Winter in Alaska is a beautiful time of year, with soft blankets of snow, glistening trees, and holiday spirit. Here at Kelley & Canterbury LLC, we enjoy getting together with our family and friends for the holidays.
Whether you’re looking for a nice, quiet winter at home or a holiday adventure, there’s plenty to do around Anchorage this winter. Here are a few of our recommendations and tips on staying safe this season.
Winter is our favorite season to watch for the northern lights, also known as aurora borealis. The bright starry nights are the perfect backdrop for the dancing colors of vibrant blues, pinks, greens, and yellows. You can see the northern lights as early as 8 p.m. during the winter months, but the best viewing hours are often near midnight.
Skiing and Snowboarding
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, hit the slopes for a day of skiing or snowboarding. Beginners and those looking for a convenient slope can head to Hilltop Ski Area, only a short 15-minute drive from downtown Anchorage. Skiers and snowboarders alike enjoy gliding down the gentle slopes that weave against the base of Chucgach State Park.
About 10 miles north of downtown Anchorage is the Arctic Valley Ski Area. These snow-filled courses take the serious amateur through four open bowls. Or, Alaska’s premiere ski resort, Alyeska Resort, boasts over 1,400 skiable acres and caters to all abilities, from beginner to professional.
Does the idea of skimming across the snow entice you? It certainly does for many Alaskans who take to wooden trails and frozen lakes for a wintery thrill. Chugach State Park offers five different areas open to snowmobilers:
- Eklutna Lake Valley
- Ptarmigan Valley & Peters Creek Valley
- Eagle River
- South Fork of Campbell Creek
- Bird Creek Trail
Of course, be sure to take caution when riding and be aware of the weather conditions. Steep canyon walls and gullies are prone to avalanches, and trails on creeks and rivers are prone to thin, crackable ice.
Paint Nites at Hard Rock Café
If you’re looking to trade the frosty weather for a warm night in, check out a Paint Nite at the Hard Rock Café, offered several nights throughout the month of December this year. At each Paint Nite, an artist will guide you through a step-by-step painting, which you’ll get to take home at the end. All materials will be provided at the event.
Winter Driving Tips
No matter where you’re going or what you’re doing, safety is the most important thing of all. A safe driver is an alert driver, and this is especially important in rapidly changing, harsh winter weather conditions. Whether you’re driving to see family or to hit the slopes, keep these safety tips in mind as you travel.
- Before you leave, scrape snow and ice from all of your vehicle’s windows and lights. It’s important to ensure that you can see other drivers and that they can see you.
- Leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Ice and snow require more stopping distance, so give yourself enough time to react.
- Remain calm if you begin to skid on ice. Ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheel in the direction you want the front end of your car to go.
- Apply steady pressure to anti-lock brakes—do NOT pump them.
- Keep an eye out for patches of ice, which will appear slightly shinier than the rest of the road.
No matter where you’re headed this winter, always have a travel plan! Let someone know where you’re going and what time you should return. Being prepared can make a huge difference in case of an emergency.
Make a Winter Driving Safety Kit
In the event that your car breaks down in harsh weather conditions or you’re caught in a snowstorm, having emergency travel supplies in your vehicle could potentially save your life. Every driver should consider his or her personal needs when assembling this kit, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Ice scraper
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable foods like peanut butter, granola, and raisins
- Bottled water
- Booster cables for starting your vehicle
- Extra clothing, hats, mittens, etc
- Candles and matches
- An extra, charged cell phone
- Road maps
- Red bandana to tie to your car antenna when you need help
- Bag of sand or cat litter for better tire traction
- Tire repair kit and pump
- Battery-powered radio
- Emergency flares and reflectors
Storing these items in the passenger compartment of your vehicle is your best bet in case your trunk is frozen shut.
Is Your Vehicle Ready?
Have you winterized your vehicle? Investing an hour or two in making sure your vehicle is safe can give you peace of mind and prevent you from being stranded in harsh conditions. Before you hit the roads this winter, take these steps to keep your vehicle running smoothly:
- Always keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid freezing.
- Clean, flush, and put new antifreeze in the cooling system.
- Make sure your heater, defroster, wipers, and lights work properly.
- Check tire tread and pressure weekly.
- Be diligent about changing your vehicle’s oil and filter at recommended intervals.
- If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in, as cold temperatures tend to magnify problems like hard starts and rough idling.
- Check your brakes—this is the most important safety item.
- Have your vehicle’s exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks.
Stay Safe Out There!
The attorneys at Kelley & Canterbury LLC wish you the happiest and safest of holidays! If you have any further questions about winter road safety, feel free to give us a call—we’d be happy to talk to you. We hope these tips will help keep you safe this winter, but in the event that you are involved in a car accident, please contact us. We’re on your side every step of the way.