The thought of living, or even visiting, Alaska in the winter might scare you, but not everything you hear is true! We bust some of these myths here.
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1. It’s freezing cold
Compared to Alabama, yes, Alaska is extremely cold. But if you compare the most populated areas of Alaska to places like Maine, Minnesota, or even a bustling metropolis like Chicago, you’ll see that there are lots of places in America that have rough winters. Much of Southeast Alaska actually stays relatively warm because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Most people in Minneapolis would probably love to be in Juneau during December!
2. It’s always dark
If you’re in Barrow, Alaska, you’ll experience 65 days of straight darkness. But the more southern the city, the more hours of daylight during the winter. The shortest day of the year in Juneau, Alaska, still has 6 hours and 22 minutes of solid daylight. Anchorage, the largest city, enjoys a solid 5 and a half. When you add twilight to this, you’re still getting plenty of sun. And with the reflection off the snow, those daytime hours are even brighter!
3. The bears hibernate
This myth is a little dangerous. If you’re going on a wilderness trek in the wintertime, you still need to be careful of bears! Because the winters are so temperate in southeast Alaska, many of the bears stay up—and they’re even hungrier than usual. Be careful when visiting areas like Kodiak Island, even in the dead of January, because there are plenty of grizzlies still roaming the woods.
3. People travel by dogsled
Some people do, but it’s definitely not common! It takes a team of dogs to successfully pull a sled, and years of training to teach those dogs how. There aren’t very many Alaskans who can support a whole team of dogs year-round just so they have a fun way to travel in the wintertime! Most dogsled teams are dedicated to professional races like the Iditarod or maintained for tourism and cultural heritage. It’s not nearly as impressive, but most Alaskans just use snowmobiles or four-wheel-drive vehicles to get around in the winter. There might be a husky riding shotgun, though.
4. You need lots of gear
It’s true that you won’t be able to get by with only a fashion windbreaker in Alaska. But most of the gear you need is common and easy to acquire inexpensively or secondhand. Things like good boots, waterproof pants, wool socks, a warm hat, or a parka might be in your closet already. If there’s one thing that’s definitely worth investing in, it’s a good pair of gloves! Most indoor spaces are heated—after all, this is the first world—but make sure you keep your extremities warm for walking around outside. If you’re just planning on staying in town, and not going alpine camping, regular winter wear will keep you cozy enough.
Interested in seeing Alaska in the winter and busting these myths for yourself? Check out these 5 winter jobs to keep you warm in Alaska!