Backcountry Riding on a 'Snow Pony': Snowmachines offer visitors a close-up view of the best of Alaska.

Author:Jackinsky, McKibben

Snowmachining is a truly exciting way to experience Alaska's backcountry with its towering mountain peaks silhouetted against an immense expanse of sky; unmatchable shades of blue captured in glacial ice; and networks of trails winding through thick forests and over frozen lakes. There is a rewarding exhaustion that comes from many miles covered in a day filled with sights that can only be seen by snowmachine--one that Derek Ruckel and Amanda Clayton of Alaska Wild Guides of Girdwood know well.

After years of guiding in Alaska. Ruckel recognized there was a need for multi-day backcountry snowmachine trips and founded Alaska Wild Guides tours in 2011. Clayton came on board in 2016 and developed the company's online reservation system. Today 95 percent of the company's business is booked online, with guests reserving spots for tours to Lake Louise, the Maclaren. Eureka, and Spencer Glaciers, portions of the Iditarod trail, and areas of Turnagain Pass.

Lori Hibbs, concierge at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, says in her fifteen years in the position she has seen continued interest in experiencing the state's natural beauty while feeling the brisk air whipping by and seeing snow just inches away--especially for visitors who live in hot climates and for whom just seeing snow is captivating.

"Snowmachine tours are very popular," says Hibbs, who knows firsthand what a unique experience the tours offer. "I've been on them and they're so scenic. There are all kinds of beautiful things to take pictures of."

Glacier City Snowmobile Tours is based at the Great Alaska Tourist Trap gift shop on the corner of the Seward and Alyeska Highways. This will be the twentieth season owners Chris Roberts and Connie Cooley have offered backcountry excursions on "snow ponies," their nickname for snowmachines.

"We strive to take everybody, young or old. We can accommodate just about anyone," says guide Justin Siemens, although guests must be over the age of sixteen to operate a snowmachine, younger travelers can ride with someone older.

Glacier City Snowmobile Tours also provides a range of experiences, including the Real Deal tour, which takes clients to a "blue ice paradise" of glaciers, icebergs, and ice caves, and the Scenic Mountain tour, which transports guests deep into the Chugach Mountains.

Jack Bonney is Visit Anchorage's director of content and engagement, and he regularly directs interested parties to Glacier City Snowmobile Tours, Alaska Backcountry...

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