A Perfect Winter Backpacking Trip

I know that it’s officially spring now, but it’s definitely not spring here in Alaska.  I mean, we’re getting tons of sunlight (over 12 hours a day now!) and it’s what Alaskans would consider warm (above freezing) pretty consistently, but there’s still a lot of snow on the ground.  However, that snow makes for perfect conditions for winter backpacking at Nancy Lake.  So we packed up our backpacks last Friday and headed up north for the night!


It was such a perfectly clear day that we could see Denali all the way from Anchorage.  We couldn’t stop talking about how gorgeous the mountains were, so we decided that we were going to take a one hour detour north of Nancy Lake to drive to Talkeetna to check out the views.  Talkeetna is a tiny little hippie town two hours north of Anchorage, and it has some of the best views of Denali anywhere.  It’s usually packed with tourists in the summer, but there was hardly anyone there on Friday afternoon and it was awesome!


We walked on the frozen Susitna River until we were too cold and had to turn around.  It was so gorgeous out there that we didn’t want to leave!  Denali is so massive in person – pictures don’t do it justice.  We warmed up after the walk with some coffee and a giant cinnamon bun from The Roadhouse before heading back down to Nancy Lake.


We stayed in one of the new public use cabins and I was seriously impressed with the place.  It got warm pretty quickly and stayed that way for most of the trip (we brought 5 bundles of wood on a sled).  It got down to -12 overnight so that was a big perk!  The cabin had a bench near the wood stove, a table, two bunks, and a loft space upstairs that made the perfect place to read for a while.  Of course, it didn’t have any electricity or running water, and we had to hike a mile to get there, but it was definitely worth it.

After the cabin started to get warm, we headed out for a long walk across frozen Nancy Lake.  We hiked from one end to the other which took about 1.5 hours, and we even let Ridley off leash again because there was no one else around.


It didn’t fully get dark until about 9:00, and we headed to bed shortly after.  I always have trouble sleeping on hard wooden bunks, but I will say that my sleeping bag kept me nice and warm all night long.  We woke up the next morning and watched the sun rise while making breakfast, and then went out for one final walk before heading home.  It was -12 that morning so our morning walk was much shorter!


Overall it was a great mini vacation, even though we had to take giant naps on Saturday to recover.  If you want more info on winter backpacking, check out this post that I wrote after our last Nancy Lake backpacking trip!

Have you ever gone backpacking/camping in the winter?  What did you do this weekend?

7 thoughts on “A Perfect Winter Backpacking Trip

  1. I must admit, though I am not keen on snow, I am a tad jealous! It looks gorgeous and no, I never did winter camping etc….
    As for my weekend, I was working Saturday and Sunday I was just lazy at home with just a quick trip to the shop for some food.

  2. Wow, great photos! Heading over to Juneau in June but may try and get further up North. How accessible is it getting further up the state and do you have any other recommendations? Have to say, Alaska fascinates me!

    1. I just went to Juneau last month! I wrote a little post about it – it was a work trip so I didn’t get to go out to the glacier or anything, but it was such a cute town! To get to/from Juneau you need to either fly or take the ferry, so it’s not exactly easy to get to Anchorage (it’s not like you can drive there). But if you’re able to fly or give up a few days for a ferry ride I say go for it! Alaska is a huge place and it’s so different the farther north you go.

      1. I’ll take a look at your post! I’ve been before, we’ve got friends in Juneau but it’s the North that really interests me! If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your job?! Wouldn’t mind a work trip out to Alaska!

    1. Haha great question! Each cabin has an outhouse. It sounds awful to use an outhouse in weather that cold, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. You can see it in the background of the last picture!

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