Alaska: What’s New in Anchorage
By Kathy Chin Leong


Indeed, a trip to Alaska is an opportunity of a lifetime. But what is there to do once you arrive? Romantic visions of eskimos, sled dogs, and calving glaciers paint a picture of a remote territory untouchable by ordinary humans. But Alaska is accessible, and the state is promoting tourism, wooing families everywhere. Here’s the latest on what you can see and do in Anchorage, one of the largest cities in the chilliest state in the nation. Brrr!

FUR FEST


From Feb. 7 to March 5, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous celebrates winter’s end with entertaining shows, games, and high-profile events, namely the Iditarod Trail World Champion Sled Dog Race. This 17-day party features crazy costumes at the Miners Trappers Ball to silly villians acting out their dastardly deeds in the Alaskana Melodrama. Another highlight of the affair is its annual snow sculpture competition.

Here’s your chance to do something clearly out of the ordinary. Play snowshoe softball, toss an Estimo blanket in a competition, and watch a death-defying snowmobile race. To learn more, click on www.anchorage.net/745.cfm .

SKI & SNOWBOARD


Anchorage features three downhill ski areas and over 100 miles of Nordic trails for playing, snowboarding, skiing, and plain hanging out.

Alyeska Resort is found in the picturesque European-style village of Girdwood. This 4-Diamond property is home to the Alyeska prince Hotel which offers 307 luxury rooms and a spate of restaurants as well as a 60-passenger tram that teks visitors 2,000 feet up above the valley for skiiing, dining, or sightseeing. Check out www.alyeskaresort.com .

Hilltop Ski Area is a small space with big attitude. Approximately 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage, the spot features a chaelt and cafeteria, and offers terrain suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers. You’ll also find a great ski school here as well. Cross country and night skiing is also available. Call 907/346-1446.

Last, Alpenglow at Arctic Valley is completely operated by volunteers and is adjacent to Fort Richardson Army Base. The site is perfect for the adventure skiier and provides views of six mountain ranges, including Mt. McKinley. Snowboard and downhill is available, but no cross country. Call 907/428-1208.

SKI EVENTS


Need a reason to go to Alaska and make your mark? Participate in a group race or activity. The Tour Of Anchorage is a scenic race where participants race on cross-country skis in either the 25K, 40K or 50K freestyle race to the finish. Call 907/276-7609

And the Ski for Women event is a benefit supporting the Abused Women’s Aid inCrisis program in Anchorage. All women and girls are invited to participate. Call 907/279-8581.

If you want to see real back country, join the Ski Train, a back-country trek on the Alaska Railroead which brings you to open mountain wilderness. You can go telemark skiing, showshoeing, and snowboard,ing and finish up with a bonfire. Call 907/276-7609.

NORTHERN LIGHTS


When you go in winter, it is the only time you can see the mysteriaous northern lights a.k.a. aurora borealis. The natural ribbons of rainbow colored light in the sky put on a spectacular display. Scientists have learned that auroras are caused by radiation emitted as light from atoms n the upper atmosphere. To learn more, explore www.anchorage.net .

IDITAROD


Slate March 4 on your calendar. That’s the start of the annual iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the states longest distance race. It begins in downtown Anchorage with 75 muchers and 1,200 dogs.
Hundreds of volunteers make this event possible, including a fleet of airplanes that fly food, dogs, and supplies in for the big event. Special tours covering this event for tourists include: Alaska Air Taxi (www.alaskaairtaxi.com), All Alaska Tours ( www.alaskatours.com ) , Explore Tours (www.exploretours.com), Gray Line of Alaska ( www.graylineofalaska.com ) , and many more.

MUSEUMS


To understand Alaska and put its culture into perspective, visit a museum or two to get a feel for Alaskan art, heritage, and history. Try the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum ( www.alaskaairmuseum.com ), the Alaska Heritage Library Museum ( www.wellsfargohistory.com ), and the Alaska Native Heritage Center (www.alaskanative.net), and the Anchorage Museum of History & Art ( www.anchoragemuseum.org ).

FAMILY FUN CENTERS


There’s even a water park in Alaska, be it an indoor one, but that’s okay. The H2Oasis Water Park, with a website of the same name, offers water tubing, water slides, and lazy river rafting for those who need to unwind.
The Science & Discovery Center at www.imaginarium.org in Anchorage allows kids to explore their world thorugh the magic of science. For more educational food, go to the Alaska Zoo to see what animals are local to this state. See www.alaskazoo.org .

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WHEN YOU GO, BE SURE TO:


*Dress in layers.
*Note that temperatures in winter range from 34 degrees to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
*Use plenty of lip balm and cover your head.

NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES

* www.anchorage.net   – Learn all about this amazing city.
* www.imaginarium.org  – Find out more about the Science and Discovery Center
* www.alaskazoo.org  – Learn about the local zoo.
* www.alaskaairmuseum.com  – Here's the site for the Alaska Avaiation Heritage Museum
* www.wellsfargohistory.com  – Investigate this site for the popular Alaska Native Heritage Center.
* www.anchoragemuseum.org – Here is the site for the Anchorage Museum of History & Art.

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