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Snowmobiling in Southcentral Alaska

Some call them snowmobiles and others call them snowmachines, but whatever the name, skimming across the snow is a favorite Alaska winter pastime.

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A snowmobile tour can get you into the Alaska backcountry.
A snowmobile tour can get you into the Alaska backcountry. ©Glacier City Snowmobile Tours

Snowmobiling season in Southcentral Alaska typically lasts from November through early May, with a variety of accessible trails that surround Anchorage. Although some trails in the city are open for exploration, most snowmobiling is done on the outskirts of town. Frozen lakes and wooded trails offer plenty of thrills and spectacular treks. Guided snowmobile tours are a fantastic way to escape into Alaska’s chilly wild and can accommodate every rider’s skill level. 

Places to go Snowmobiling Near Anchorage

Chugach State Park offers trails with fantastic views of upper Cook Inlet and the Eagle River valley. Currently, there are five areas in the park that are open to snowmobilers, all of which are great choices for day treks:

  • Eklutna Lake Valley
  • Ptarmigan Valley & Peters Creek Valley
  • Eagle River
  • South Fork of Campbell Creek
  • Bird Creek Trail

Steep canyon walls and gullies in most of these areas are prone to avalanches. Trails on creeks and rivers are prone to thin ice, open water and overflow. Take caution when riding and be aware of weather conditions.

The Mat-Su Borough is known for its extensive network of multiuse trails and is a snowmobiling paradise. Located an hour's drive north of Anchorage, the following sites are great options for day trips or weekend treks.

  • Hatcher Pass: Extensive trail network including a 40-mile ride over the pass to Willow.
  • Nancy Lake State Recreation Area/Willow: 40 miles of maintained multiuse trails available and a great destination for overnight or weekend treks. Public use cabins available.
  • Big Lake: 120-mile network of groomed trails. Treks from Big Lake to Houston and Skwentna are popular.

Iron Dog

To see the pros of the sport, head to Anchorage Feb. 18-21, 2015 for the start of the Iron Dog. Running across 2,000 miles, it is the world's longest snowmobile race. The event kicks off in downtown Anchorage with an expo Feb. 18, a banquet the next day, a freestyle show the evenings of Feb. 20-21, and the Pro class race start on Feb. 21. Cheer racers as they embark on a journey from Anchorage to Nome and on to the finish in Fairbanks. 2015 is the first year the race has ever started on the streets of Anchorage.