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Life in Alaska: 5 things you don’t realize about Alaska unless you live here.


Winters in Alaska are long and how cold it gets varies, usually depending on where in the state you live and of course what weather shows up on your doorstep.  

Getting outside, even in winter, is important for your sanity.  If you can get out while the sun is up, even better, but not required.  Do it anyway for at least 15 minutes per day.  Bonus if it involves exercise.

There are so many outdoor winter activities which help the long winters be more fun: ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing (downhill or cross country skiing), mushing, building snow forts, winter camping, ice climbing, ice fishing, etc.

Bundling up in cute and coordinating outfits make it better.  If you feel cold, you need to dress warmer, layer properly, and wear clothes made of the right materials for what you are doing.  It might be cold here yet we still eat more ice cream per capita than any other state.

Because we get a combination of low light and cold weather for several months of the year, going somewhere warm in the winter can help.  If not out of state, then at least to your local sauna/gym/pool.

Winters are a great time to create indoors.  Usually because you’ll spend less free time outdoors (that 1-6 hour hike in the summer became a 20 min – 1.5 hour cross country ski or snowshoeing loop).  Art creation is something you can do inside, and incorporate brighter, fun colors to balance out all that cold, snow and low light.


We have specific terms and concepts used in Alaska for a variety of relevant topics.

Lower 48 is a term describing those 48 states in the Contiguous US.  FYI, we are part of the Continental US.

It’s Snowmachines not snowmobiles.  If you say snowmobile, we’ll know you aren’t from here.  People here use snow machines to go where vehicles can’t access in shorter amounts of time and with more supplies than on foot in the winter.

North Pole exists. It’s an actual town southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.  It is where we buy our ornaments for our tree & meet with Santa.

Dipnetting is limited to qualified Alaska Residents, dipnetting involves holding a large net in a river or near the river confluence for salmon to swim into so you can catch them and eat them.  There are very specific locations, with a few requirements about timing. Be sure to follow all state & federal rules on any hunting or fishing, if you don’t they can confiscate any means you used to break the law (plane, vehicle, fishing or hunting equipment, etc.).  In terms of dipnetting, fish come in with the tide, so it is important to dipnet when the fish are running, which can be at all hours.

Alaska Native vs. Alaska Transplant – Alaska Native are people with Native Alaskan ethnicities, not just anyone who was born here or grew up here. There are certain requirements that must be met for benefits to be acquired by those with Alaska Native family histories.  Alaska Transplant – someone that moved here after they were born and is expecting to stay.  Born in Alaska – everyone born here including Alaska natives born here.

There are several different kinds of snow and ice.  While there are proper names for them, here are some descriptive examples: flaky snow, sticky snow, icy snow, black ice, ice that shatters, ice with bubbles, etc.  Know what you can walk on, what you can hang from and what to avoid.

Igloos & mushing a dog sled team – We don’t live in igloos and mush to/from them for school, unless we think you’ll buy it.  


This is by no means a comprehensive list…

Warmth & Layering Your Clothes – Be able to build a fire, this can help if you get stranded or it gets cold while camping, etc.  Also learn what to wear, and how to stay warm and not overheat for any activity you are doing from first getting outside to returning to warmth.

Snow & Ice – Know when it is safe to go out on the ice, and when it isn’t.  Understand the different kinds of snow and ice, where to step and where not to step.

Tides & Beaches – Understand the tides so you don’t get stuck somewhere.  Understand sand vs. mud flats, why to avoid them and what to do if you find yourself on them.

Have Communication Plans – Have a way to talk to someone if you get lost or a way to get help, even without cell phone coverage.  We have an Alaska Rescue Coordination Center because anyone can get in a life-risking situation here. Be as prepared as you can, so you aren’t putting yourself in a situation requiring rescue if it can be avoided.

Have a Healthy Respect for Alaska.  Regardless of how prepared you are, how much experience or training you have had, Alaska can still kick your butt.  Between the changing weather conditions, the wildlife and changing land and water conditions, things can change big and quickly, and having a healthy respect for it can be the difference in the outcome of your situation.  We have winds over 100 mph, bore tides, avalanches, glacier cold rivers, bears that eat humans, moose that impale humans, killer berries (don’t eat the wrong ones), large earthquakes, etc.  Know your limits and leave your arrogance at home.


At over 2.5 times the size of Texas, about anything is bigger here, except the population and the road system.  The State and Federal government own a majority percentage of the land and resource rights of the state.  

In general, Alaska wild salmon tend to have a higher ratio of healthy fatty acids to unhealthy fatty acids with less contaminants than farm raised salmon. 

Many villages and towns do not have road access, and are only accessible by plane and/or boat.  We have the most pilots per capita than any other state. Bush pilots along with commercial and military pilots keep villages supplied all year, with boats & barges arriving during the summer months.

We have so many artists here who capture the landscape and wildlife of Alaska. They find the beauty in the ruggedness and express it onto the canvas, the drawing, the photograph, the clothing, tumblers, hats, etc.


It doesn’t matter your level of skill, there is some kind of adventure that will work for you at the level of risk that you are willing to take. 

There are classes you can take from experts to increase your skill level for about any kind of adventure.

If you aren’t getting out there, you aren’t experiencing all Alaska has to offer.

The above blog post is general educational information and not advice.  It is not comprehensive nor meant as a cornerstone for your Alaskan Adventures.  I am not an expert in the outdoors, and I am not responsible for the outcome of your decisions.  Make decisions at your own risk.  Please consult experienced, expert advice for your specific Alaskan adventures.

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