Alaska Local Custom Tips by PA2AKgirl Top 5 Page for this destination
Alaska Local Customs: 49 reviews and 46 photos
It's freezing but he has something to sing about
Alaskans--those who have lived here their whole lives and those who came from Outside years ago--are, as a whole, the nicest people we've ever met. Anywhere we've gone, pretty much, the people we've never met before are helpful and treat you as a lifelong friend. They may appear a little rugged or tough and maybe even unapproachable but they all have stories and experiences they can share and want to hear yours. In the smaller towns this is especially true. When I first arrived in Sitka a few years ago, I didn't feel unwelcome for even a minute. Almost immediately, I was happy to be there. When I was interacting with tourists, I was proud to say that I now lived in this state. Anchorage actually is no different to me in this respect...we are always greeted with the friendliest smiles and endearing demeanor. Though isolated and sometimes harsh, Alaska brings out the "humanity" in a lot of people. If you live here and care enough to learn about the other towns, cultures and regions, you feel somehow connected to people with whom you you never knew existed.
There have only been a couple times we came across some attitude but I'm sure there were reasons.
The Iditarod is one of the biggest things people associate with Alaska. It covers 1100 miles (1760km) from Anchorage to Nome in the winter. The route does get altered sometimes due to lack of snow and while the ceremonial start is here in Anchorage, the restart is in Wasilla (or Willow Lake, depending on conditions.) The historic route starts in Seward, which is marked by the “historic trail” People from anywhere may compete, but they have to get through smaller races before they can move on because this is such a difficult competition. The dogs are trained for this and the breeds are ones who prefer weather well below freezing. Still, the race has been met with protests and objections by animal rights advocates. (Everything in Alaska seems to have controversy)
A man I knew who did this race didn’t use dogs at all—he just wanted to complete the race and did so on cross country skis. Seeing the start of it is big here in Anchorage and the race is televised at the checkpoints and then at the end in Nome. I’m sure it’s huge up there too, though a lot of time passes between the musher who arrives first and the rest who complete the race.
One thing you might find confusing if you’re driving is how the highways have a number but no one refers to them this way. Getting directions from someone will probably involve a name and not a number. Following the number is okay on the map but one number can be a few different highways. Alaska 1 is a great example of this…it’s called all of these depending where you are on the highway:
Also, unlike the US interstate system, Alaska doesn’t follow the “odd numbers go north and south” and the “even numbers run east and west” so don’t base the roads on that system. You’re better off knowing which name goes where. Like the Parks highway connects Wasilla (at the Glenn Highway) to Fairbanks. The numbering pattern seems to go from 1-11 which could make sense, but then there’s Alaska 98 also called the Klondike Highway. Name changes are common among Alaska roads—one side is usually called one thing, another side a different name. Or it may seem one road ends but then you see it again on the other side of the town and no way to figure out how that road made it there. One last thing: don’t bet that just because it’s called a highway, that it’s paved. It’s not always the case.
We arrived here in the winter of last year and soon, we began to hear about Nenana Ice Classic. Nenana is town located south of Fairbanks, quite a distance north of here on the Parks Highway. We didn’t know anything about this and actually kinda forgot about it until we went to Nenana recently. The Ice Classic is a wonderful local custom that anyone can win—it’s a complete guessing game. People put money down and make a guess as to when the ice is going to break on the Tanana river. This means it’s time for spring. The town goes all out for this—there’s a building for the Ice Classic, a number to get tickets and place your guess (up to the minute), provides employment (short term). It gets the whole state involved and big money can be won ($300,000 in the past years) just by making that lucky guess.
Alaska has a lot of local customs. Some I’ll devote a tip to individually, but others I can just group here in a single tip.
Alaska has its own time zone—one hour behind Pacific Time
No matter what you think about it, hunting or fishing is a way of life here. They aren’t just sports for everyone, but truly a way of life.
Snowmobiles are called Snowmachines
The contiguous US states are referred to as the “Lower 48”
When we were stopping for coffee, a lady asked us if we were going to the “outside” meaning out of Alaska. If you hear that and you’re outdoors already, don’t be confused;-)
Cold weather doesn’t bother a lot of people here. We heard that children up in the
Fairbanks area still have recess until it’s below -20F.
The farther east you go in the interior, the more Alaskans sound like Canadians--
sometimes more so than people you’ll come across in Whitehorse, Yukon.
reindeer meat is available in many forms--sausage, hot dogs, ground in omelets, etc.
More Reviews (59)
- See All Sled Dog Demonstration at Denali
- See All Hiking
- See All At the end of the pavement
- See All So cute and so burly:)
- See All Hatcher Pass/Independence Mine
- See All Roadhouses
PA2AKgirl's Related Pages
Alaska Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "The Land of the Midnight Sun"
- "Alaska--my home for now (again)"
- "Alaska, up north and far away"
- "Train Ride Through Alaska's Interior"
- "The Last Great Frontier"
- "Alaska, land of beauty"
- "Alaska, America's Crown Jewel"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Alaska
- Hotels in Alaska
- Transportation in Alaska
- Nightlife in Alaska
- Restaurants in Alaska
- Shopping in Alaska
- Warnings and Dangers in Alaska
- See All...
Explore the World
- Bad Hofgastein
- Europe Hotels
- Antofagasta Hotels
- Airlie Beach Hotels
- Pulau Sepoi Hotels
Badges & Stats in Alaska
- 169 Reviews
- 296 Photos
- 4 Forum posts
- 4 Cities
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (18)
Have you been to Alaska?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Alaska
- Wrote a Review Sled Dog Demonstration at Denali in Alaska Tourist Traps
- Uploaded a Photo to "Sled Dog Demonstration at Denali"
- Commented on one of kazander's Alaska travel pages
- updated a Alaska Travelogue "Glenn Highway (Anchorage to Glennallen)"
- Posted in Travel Alaska Forum "Re: Exit Glacier Trail in Late May?"
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Alaska Intro, 64 reviews, 136 photos, 5 travelogues
- United States of America Intro, 52 reviews, 87 photos, 4 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Sitka Intro, 43 reviews, 49 photos, 2 travelogues
- Lewisburg Intro, 34 reviews, 54 photos, 3 travelogues
- Turkey Intro, 30 reviews, 53 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Anchorage Intro, 29 reviews, 52 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Mobile Intro, 37 reviews, 44 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Gettysburg Intro, 28 reviews, 38 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Halifax Intro, 24 reviews, 35 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Brooklyn Intro, 23 reviews, 35 photos, 2 travelogues
FriendsSee All Friends (66)
Top Alaska hotels
- Anchorage Hotels
- 830 Reviews - 1525 Photos
- Fairbanks Hotels
- 315 Reviews - 496 Photos
- Barrow Hotels
- 93 Reviews - 142 Photos
- Denali National Park and Preserve Hotels
- 321 Reviews - 602 Photos
- Kodiak Hotels
- 256 Reviews - 446 Photos
- Juneau Hotels
- 362 Reviews - 881 Photos
- Ketchikan Hotels
- 222 Reviews - 537 Photos
- Dutch Harbor Hotels
- 80 Reviews - 118 Photos
- Haines Hotels
- 93 Reviews - 199 Photos
- Seward Hotels
- 200 Reviews - 480 Photos
- Skagway Hotels
- 170 Reviews - 499 Photos
- Tetlin Junction Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- Sitka Hotels
- 174 Reviews - 278 Photos
- Girdwood Hotels
- 88 Reviews - 162 Photos
- Kodiak Island Hotels
- 96 Reviews - 134 Photos