The North American Sled Dog race
is held in downtown Fairbanks.
The magic of Fairbanks’ Winter Carnival transforms the Ides of
March into the “Rides of March,” a boreal celebration of unrivaled
proportions not to be missed by clients who appreciate winter
Also part of the carnival, the World Ice Art Championship
features over 180 sculptures that eerily highlight the darkened,
frost-covered woods that surround them. Each is a colorful fantasia
that delights the eyes and mind.
The Kid’s Park includes an ice maze for families to explore,
winding ice sleds and ice toys that are designed to slide, spin and
twirl. There is ample time for both play and viewing. Average
daylight hours in March are close to 12 hours, with the average
temperature a comfortable 22 degrees. In my opinion, the park
sculptures are best viewed at twilight and at night. Tell clients
to take lots of hand warmers, a camera and tripod and, of course,
Ice Alaska offers ice-sculpting classes on weekends throughout
early 2008, and other classes can be taught by special arrangement.
A class fee of $75 includes hot drinks and all tools, and the fee
will be refunded if the student enters the Amateur Open
The Limited North American Sled Dog Race features up to 80 dog
teams from around the state, running a limited number of sled dogs.
A week later, the GCI North American Championship Sled Dog Race
takes place on the streets and surrounding trails of Fairbanks.
This is the Indy 500 of sled dog racing, where mushers can use an
unlimited number of dogs, which also creates the fastest sled dog
race in the world. The event includes vendor booths, fur auctions
and evening activities. During the same time, visit Chatanika Days,
a winter festival held 30 miles north of Fairbanks in the historic
mining town of Chatanika. It’s famous for its outhouse race on skis
and snowmobile tug-of-war.
March Madness, Alaska Style
Called the Last Great Race, the 36th Annual Iditarod Trail Sled
Dog Race will begin March 1 in Anchorage. It consists of over 100
mushers with 12 to 16 dogs covering 1,150 miles in 10 to 17 days of
grueling travel. Most visitors experience the race at its start in
Anchorage, at the finish line in Nome or at one of the checkpoints
along the way.
For the client who wants a full dose of Iditarod, the “Chase the
Race” tour starts in Anchorage. Clients fly to the remote
checkpoints within the Alaska Range, at river checkpoints and in
scenic Rainy Pass. Options include overnight stays at remote lodges
to watch the mushers stream by. In between musher activity, or at
night, activities include photographing the northern lights and
winter wildlife, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
More sedate road-based side tours include watching the start or
finish of the race, combined with highway tours that include winter
sightseeing and winter activities along the Kenai Peninsula and the
Dalton Highway. Flightseeing the Brooks Range in winter is an
experience that can’t be missed.