Alaska Snowmobile Trails GuideMaddy Scheinost
Alaska Snowmobile Trials
The Best Snowmobiling in Alaska
Snowmobiles are so common in Alaska that they are seen as often as a second car. But they’re not called snowmobiles, and you’re not going to snowmobile Alaska. Rather, locals call them snowmachines, and you’re going to snowmachine Alaska. The fact is that in Alaska, many remote locations and rugged terrain actually gets more accessible after the first snowfall of the season. Wide open spaces, frozen lakes, and wooded Alaska snowmobile trails offer plenty of winter excitement. While there are many opportunities to take one of Alaska snowmobile trails, there are also tons of world-class places to ride your snowmobile in the state. Below are just a few of the best Alaska snowmobiling spots, compiled by the experts at Treadworld, with location information and websites. It’s always a good idea to check out snowmobile trail conditions in Alaska, along with local avalanche reports, before you head out for your snowmobile adventures.
Location: Southwest of Anchorage near Clam Gulch on the Kenai peninsula
Caribou Hills Trail is among the most popular snowmobile trails in Alaska and offers over 60 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails adapted from old seismographic trails left over from early oil exploration of the 1960s. This trail is just part of the plethora of outdoor recreation areas to be found on Kenai Peninsula, which also includes Moose Pass Trails, Turnagain Pass Trails, Mystery Creek Trail, Seward and Homer Trails, all boasting beautiful scenery and landscape during any season, but especially during the winter.
Chena River State Recreation Area
Location: 26 miles east of Fairbanks, AK
Visitors to this recreation area will find more than 100 miles of trails with snowmachine riding allowed north of the Chena River in this 254,080-acre state park which includes a wide variety of prime snowmobiling terrain, with its 397 square miles of forests, its rivers, its frozen alpine tundra and sweeping prairies, and its jaw-dropping rock formations. Following the discovery of Chena Hot Springs in 1905, the U.S. Army built a trail from there to Fairbanks. Today, that trail is part of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, an epic winter sports event takes place every year on the first Saturday of February.
Chugash National Forest & Chugash State Park
Location: South-centrail Alaska, 35 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway
Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/chugach/recreation/wintersports/?recid=4832&actid=92& http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/chugach/recops.htm
At 6.9 million acres, Chugash is the second largest national forest in the U.S.—larger than New Hampshire—and most of it is seasonally open for-snow motorized use. It’s a beautiful area teeming with wildlife. During your snowmobiling adventures you might see sheep, mountain goats, black bears, moose, terns, swans and bald eagles. Living, flowing ice is a common sight in this national forest, and you can count on coming face to face with glaciers, plus you may also encounter rain forests, coastal inlets, majestic woods and immense prairie wetlands. Chugash State Park, one of the largest state parks in the nation, contains 6 snowmobile areas located throughout its 495,204 acres.
Denali National Park
Location: Parks Hwy, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
With some of the best snowmobiling in Alaska, Denali offers 300 miles of snowmobile trails, including 60 groomed trails, and is home to Mount McKinley, the centerpiece of the Alaska Range, which at 20,320 feet above sea level, is the tallest mountain in the U.S. Add that to the many large glaciers and the abundant wildlife and you’ve got a great place to ride your snowmachine. Situated between the Talkeetna Mountains and the Alaska Range, Denali is halved by the Parks Highway. The eastern half of the park, which spans more than 325,000 acres, is dominated by the Curry and Kesugi Ridges, with snow accumulations in excess of six feet. You can ride snowmobile throughout the park when snow depth is sufficient—about 16 inches. But keep in mind that about 15% of the park is glaciers.
Hatcher Pass Management Area
Location: through the southwest part of the Talkeetna Mountains, 12 miles from Wasilla, WA and 26 miles from Willow, WA
The 300,000-acre Hatcher Pass Management Area provides options for snowmobilers of all skill levels that includes mountainous terrain backcountry trails that branch into side valleys, creek draws and onto broad ridges that require at least a moderate level of experience. Plus there are more than 30 miles of groomed trails that are ideal for even novice and beginning snowmobilers. The east side of the pass is known for many narrow valleys that require riders to stay on marked trails. The west side has broader valleys and glacier-smoothed alpine areas that invite exploration.
Iditarod National Historic Trail
Location: Trail runs from Willow, AK, up Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range, along the shore of the Bering Sea, reaching Nome, AK
Named a National Historic Trail by Congress on November 10, 1978, the Iditarod National Historic Trail consists of nearly 2,400 miles of winter trails between the communities of Seward and Nome. It is one of 19 trails in America that have been named a National Historic Trail. Known for the infamous—longest, toughest—dog sled race that carries the same name, the Iditarod offers some of the best places to snowmobile in the state, though it’s recommended you tackle it in chunks rather than try to cover the entire 1,000-mile trail in one go.
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area
Location: 90 minutes from Anchorage, AK, along Parks Highway
This recreation area provides snowmobilers with 30 miles of multi-use trails to be shared by snowmachiners, dog mushers, skiers and snowshoers. Trails in the area include the Red Shirt Lake Trail, a 15 mile loop that starts at the Winter Trailhead, and The Lynx Lake Loop Trail, a 13 mile trail enjoyed by all snowmobile-riding experience levels. Expect gorgeous scenery along the way as you weave among giant spruce trees and open swamp-meadows of untouched powder… all guaranteed sure to make your snowmobilers heart beat faster.
White Mountains National Recreation Area
Location: Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, around 60 miles from Fairbanks, AK
Stunning scenery, peaceful solitude and some of the best places to go snowmobiling in the state are all part of the 1 million-acre White Mountains Recreation Area. Here you’ll find 240 miles of maintained winter trails shared by cross-country skiers, skijorers (person on skis pulled by horse, dog or vehicle), dog mushers, snowmachiners, and other winter adventurers. Enjoy the crisp, clean air and keep your eyes open for dazzling views, and if you’re lucky, shimmering northern lights against a star-studded sky.
Location: Visitor center is 10 miles south of Glennallen, AK, around 200 miles northeast of Anchorage, AK, and 250 miles south of Fairbanks, AK
Here you’ve got 13 million acres of the nation’s largest national park where you can explore the best snowmobile trails anywhere, spanning raw wilderness that includes volcanoes, snow-capped mountains and glistening glaciers. Trails aren’t groomed, but snow-packed areas in the valleys and mountains are plentiful, and ripe for sledding in Alaska. The largest wilderness area in the National Wilderness Preservation System, this range includes nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the U.S.