Wild & Weird Things to do in Alaska
Alaska is a state that has seriously captured my wandering soul. As a proud member of the “All 50 States” club, I easily recommend Alaska as the #1 place you have to see in the US. Seriously, forget about LA and Vegas, Alaska is where it’s at. You probably already know that Alaska’s nature and animal viewing is out of this world, but this is about some of the things you maybe haven’t heard about: the unique festivals, quirky traditions, and outright crazy things that make Alaska, Alaska.
Weird things to do in Alaska
Attend the World’s Largest Outhouse Race
As a spectator, or better yet as a participant, join in the fun in Anchorage’s Fur Rondy!
Just strap your outhouse to a set of cross-country skis and get pushing! Not into running? Don’t worry, you can still be part of a team:
The outhouse must carry 1 helmeted person sitting on a toilet seat. One roll of toilet paper is required.”
Prizes are also awarded for outhouse decoration and team costuming efforts.
Deemed the “Mardi Gras of the North” the Fur Rondy is a festival that takes place over many days in February. The event also includes events such as the Running of the Reindeer (think, running of the bulls, Alaska style) and the Mr Fur Face competition (prizes for the best beard and / or mustache).
Here’s some outhouse footage from years gone by:
Ride a Grizzly Bear
If you’re in the neighborhood of Denali National Park (which you should be, cause it’s beautiful!) and you’re looking to spice up your evening, take the quick drive north to Healy, Alaska and take a chance at riding the Griz. At the bar inside the Totem Inn, a couple bucks will get you a token good for two rides on a taxidermy grizzly bear. The Griz is usually only operating one night a week, so call or plan ahead if you decide this is a must-do for you!
Moon the Train
If you’re lucky enough to be in Alaska around the 4th of July, head up to Ferry, Alaska, and get ready! What started as a protest against the Alaska Railroad building tracks through the middle of this tiny town, has now become an annual tradition. Check out this video from a long-time Ferry resident for some history on Ferry: skip to about 3:30 if you want to get straight to the part about the mooning. 😉 Having personally spent a lot of time on the train in Alaska, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the tradition is no longer confined to the town of Ferry or the 4th of July. Get some friends together and show the train the full moon anytime.
Ring the Bell
Want to instantly become the most popular person in an Alaskan bar?
An old throw back to the gold rush days, it’s an Alaskan right of passage (and any good tourist’s duty) to ring the bell at least once. To ring the bell a century ago meant you had struck gold and therefore wished to share your good fortune: a round of drinks for all present.
Today, nearly every bar in Alaska still comes equipped with a bell, and its meaning is virtually the same. The ringing of the bell will lead to rowdy hootin’ and hollerin’ as the bartender stops what they’re doing and starts pouring shots for all present.
It’s an easy was to spice up an otherwise dull night out.
READ MORE ABOUT WEIRD DRINKING TRADITIONS UP NORTH: The Yukon’s Sourtoe Cocktail
Attend Alyeska’s Slush Cup
Every year in Girdwood, Alaska there is an event that I can only think to describe as sort of an extreme polar plunge. Part of Spring Carnival celebrating the end of a (very long) ski season at Alyeska Resort, 50 participants ski or snowboard down the mountain, hit a jump, and attempt to skid to the other end of a 90′ pool of (oh, so cold) water. Winners receive an annual ski pass to Alyeska Resort for the following year.
Crazy costumes are required for all participants.
If ski-jumping into icy water isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other events. The Dummy Downhill (inanimate objects attached to skis race down the hill), the Idiot Swim Across (try your hand at swimming across the icy 90′ pool), old fashioned Tug-o-war (also, across the pond), and lots of live music round out this oh-so-Alaskan festival. This years event runs April 7th through the 9th.
See highlights of 2016’s event:
LEARN MORE ABOUT ALASKA’S OFFICIAL STATE SPORT: Women of the Iditarod
Go to the North Pole
Not many people can say they’ve been to the North Pole, but after a tour through the town where it’s always Christmas, you can be one of the few, the proud. North Pole, Alaska is a 20 minute trip outside of Fairbanks. Say hi to Santa, pet a reindeer, eat a peppermint stick, and generally feel merry and bright, any time of the year.
Take the Santa Clause Lane exit off the highway. #truth
Check out MukLuk Land
And in case your jolly old soul hasn’t had enough Christmas, you can always go see Santa’s Rocket Ship at Mukluk Land.
Mukluk: (n) a high, soft boot that is worn in the American Arctic and is traditionally made from sealskin.”
Mukluk Land (just outside of Tok, Alaska) boasts the largest mukluk in the world and is known as the “most Alaskan place in Alaska” (though something about it reminds me of Slab City).
Five dollars gets you in to see Santa’s Rocket Ship, as well as classic boats, vintage cars, and a whole lot of old snow mobiles. While you’re there, play a round of mini-golf, or try your hand at Whac-A-Mole or Skee-ball.
And whatever you do, don’t miss the creepy doll collection or the sizable outhouse display (what is it with Alaskans and outhouses??!),
This guy calls it the Disney World of Alaska:
Meet the Major
No list of weird things in Alaska would be complete without mention of Mayor Stubbs. As one of the longest-serving mayors in the United States, you must stop by Talkeetna, Alaska and ask to meet their feline mayor.
He doesn’t raise our taxes – we have no sales tax. He doesn’t interfere with business. He’s honest.”
– Laurie Stec, Talkeetna resident
Stubbs can typically be found in Nagley’s General Store or out patrolling the streets of Talkeetna.
Stubbs has been the honorary mayor of Talkeetna since 1997. With all the turmoil surrounding this last US election, Mayor Stubbs has even thrown in his name for a 2020 US presidential run.
Have you done any of these? Any other oddities in Alaska I’ve missed?