SKI ALASKA!

By Kim Rudd, Endurance Adventures owner

Hannah, Leah and Craig Rudd out for a ski in late October at Hatcher Pass in Palmer, Alaska

My first trip to Alaska was in my early twenties during the summer of 1997. Trip highlights included hiking along Exit glacier, deep sea fishing for Halibut in Homer, overnight sea kayaking in Valdez and climbing up the famous mount marathon in Seward. It took nearly two decades, but I finally returned to Alaska in 2016 while dropping off our oldest daughter at UAA ( University of Anchorage Alaska) where she competed for the Seawolves on the Nordic ski team. Since then we have visited Alaska a handful of times both in the late fall and winter months to explore the endless Nordic ski adventures in Anchorage and the surrounding towns.

Craig, Hannah, Leah and Kim Rudd enjoying the view from the Coastal Trail along the Western Edge of Cook Inlet

Alaska is famous for the Iditarod, gold mining, sourdough, the Alaska railroad, aviation, Alaska Native heritage, world-class fishing and seafood. Alaska is known for its wide-open spaces which provide solitude for humans to connect with nature. Whether it’s getting a glance of the Northern lights, mountaintop sunset views or sighting a moose crossing, Alaska does not disappoint.

Throughout our families many visits to Anchorage, our daughter showed us some of her favorite cross country ski destinations. We soon discovered that Anchorage is a jumping ground to endless cross-country ski adventures. Within an hour’s drive you can be skiing in a multitude of different mountain ranges with trail systems that provide panoramic views. 

Kim and Craig Rudd skiing at Hatcher Pass near Palmer, Alaska

 Our first ski experience in Anchorage was in late October at the Independence Mine known as Hatcher Pass. This ski destination is located at an altitude of 3,886 feet in the Talkeetna mountain range, just a short hour drive from Anchorage. The views from the top of Hatcher pass are breathtaking as you ski around the remnants of the old gold mines and watch the sun rise on the horizon. At its peak, The Independence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 families who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II.  

After skiing at Hatcher Pass we refueled at the Vagabond Blues bakery in Palmer before heading a short twenty minute drive to Government Peak Trailhead. This trailhead provided an extensive Nordic ski trail system with a variety of easy to challenging terrain. 

On another visit we did a short one hour day trip to Girdwood where we cross country skied  in the morning and enjoyed an afternoon of downhill skiing at Alyeska which overlooks seven glaciers: Crow Glacier, Raven Glacier, Eagle Glacier, Clear Glacier, Goat Glacier, Milk Glacier and Alyeska Glacier. 

Leah, Craig and Hannah skiing at Alyeska down hill ski resort

If your desire is to stay closer to Anchorage, there are a vast amount of groomed ski trails that traverse across the town by the multi-use trails that connect the Kincaid and Hillside ski areas. Skiers at UAA and APU can start skiing right out their doors all the way to the edge of cook inlet! 

On one of our last trips to Alaska we competed in the Oosik Classic Ski Race held in Telkeetna, Alaska. The race course is know for its adventure on a very narrow and curvy classic single track which happens to be one of my favorite types of ski terrain! From what I observed throughout the race event, one fourth of the race participants are serious about racing and the other three fourths are out for the party. Most participants dress up in costumes and enjoy adult beverages that are offered to participants along the course. Whatever your goals are for the Oosik ski race, you will be guaranteed to enjoy the party atmosphere along your adventurous ski through the beautiful woods. The finish of the race ends with a spectacular view of Denali mountain ( was a bit cloudy when we raced so I need to go back and race it again to get a better view).

Hannah, Kim and Craig Rudd after the finish of the Oosik race

This past June I launched a new travel business called Endurance Adventures. The vision of this venture was to create cross country ski and mountain bike trips for adults of all athletic abilities to some of the most stunning ski and bike venues both in the US and internationally. Local Midwest star and Olympian Brian Gregg will be one of the trip leaders for all three of the 2022-23 ski trips to Canada, Washington and Alaska. Brian raced for UAA and has extensive experience skiing all over Alaska. I am excited to co-lead this trip to Alaska and also participate in my first Tour of Anchorage race event!

Description of Endurance Adventures Tour of Anchorage Trip: March 3 – 9, 2023

The increased daylight and warmer temperatures in March provides an ideal time to visit Alaska. Your Alaskan adventure begins with a preview of the Tour of Anchorage race course along with spectating the Iditarod ceremonial race start in downtown Anchorage. The Tour of Anchorage event traverses the city using the multi use trails, Hillside ski trail and ends at Kincaid Park on the Western edge of Cook Inlet. Trip participants can race in the 25, 40 or 50 kilometer events or choose to ski and spectate the race finish at Kincaid.

Relax at the The Lakefront of Anchorage each evening watching Moose and enjoying meals with your travel companions. The group will take day trips from Anchorage to some of Brian Gregg and Kim Rudd’s favorite ski destinations in Alaska. Enjoy skiing on the trails at Girdwood Park where the average yearly snowfall is around 121 inches. Following your ski at Girdwood participants will take the tram ride to the top of Alyeska downhill ski area for lunch at Bore Tide Deli offering panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the Chugach Mountain Range, and seven “hanging” glaciers. Explore Portage glacier followed by dinner at The Inn at Whittier where you can enjoy spectacular views of Passage Canal while eating Alaskan seafood. Ski at Government Peak and Hatcher Pass followed by dinner at the Grape Tap in the town of Wasilla.

We still have open spots left on the Endurance Adventures Tour of Anchorage Trip scheduled for March 3rd – 9th. Trip is limited to sixteen participants. For more information on the trip itinerary and registration click here: Tour of Anchorage Trip

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