when one thinks of places to visit during the cold DC winter, Alaska is likely one of the last choices you would make. Heck, through January this year, the DC area had more snow than Anchorage, Alaska (as measured at Dulles International and Anchorage International, respectively). And what is there to see in Alaska in the winter months besides short days, long dark nights, and lots of ice and snow? Well, for one, and the ultimate goal of the trip I took, the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
Beyond the wonder of the aurora though, there is something special about Alaska during the winter, especially for a photographer. The short periods of daylight also means the sun is low on the horizon for much of the day creating what almost seems to be a day-long ‘golden hour’. The highest elevation of the sun during my trip was only 16° at 1P – practically almost sunset here in DC.
Starting in Anchorage and traveling the famed Seward Highway, the reflection of the Chugach Mountain Range in the glacial waters is a sight to behold. From Anchorage, it was onwards to Fairbanks, which is only eight hours by car, but to truly see the breathtaking beauty of Alaska, there is no better way than the Alaska Railroad ‘Aurora Train’. With an open air vestibule between cars, I think I spent the better part of the trip hanging outside of the train snapping photos of the beautiful views. Just make sure to wear layers!
Dispatches is our occasional look outside of DC at the places local photographers have traveled. Have a set of photos you’d like to feature here? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.