Snowmachining may not have been invented in Alaksa but it’s probably not any more popular elsewhere than it is in the United States’ biggest state.
It’s tough to argue with 570,951 square miles, a great portion of which is covered in snow during the winter (and sometimes summer) months. It’s also tough to argue with the riding season, which can begin as early as October and go well into May, June or even July. Many snowmobilers from other “popular” riding spots in the Lower 48 couldn’t find a flake of snow in those later months, let alone ride snowmobiles on snow.
Wide open, backcountry riding takes on a new meaning in Alaska, where your only limits are the amount of gas you can carry and your ability to read a GPS. There are places in Alaska with small, developed trail systems as well as locations that attract more snowmachiners than others.
Some of the more popular local sledding spots include Hatcher Pass, Nancy Lake State Recreation Area/Willow and Big Lake, north of Anchorage, the White Mountains, Summit and Cantwell near Fairbanks, Tok, Delta Junction, Valdez and Eureka. Of course, these riding areas are just a small portion of what is actually available.
Other riding options include selected Alaska state parks, such as the already-mentioned Nancy Lake. A handful of others where snowmachining is allowed include Birch Lake State Recreation Site, Chena River State Recreation Area, Denali State Park and Chugach State Park. For more information on these parks and others, log on to http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/ and click on the individual parks section.
Riding is also popular and allowed in Alaska’s two state forests—Tanana Valley (near Fairbanks) and Haines (near Haines).
Contact the Alaska State Snowmobile Association for information on riding in the state by logging on to the ASSA website at www.aksnow.org. The state association’s website has good information on several trail systems, including maps, and what awaits you when you ride there.