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Holiday air travel has been headache-inducing. Here are options for exploring Alaska’s winter wonderland instead.

Aurora captured near Fairbanks

It’s a really tough season for airlines and air travellers.

With snowstorms, freezing rain, canceled flights, lost bags, and abandoned flyers, it’s no exaggeration to say that the Grinch stole many travelers’ Christmases this year.

So what did I say last week when a friend called and asked if I should stick with his plans to visit Lower 48?

“Run away,” I said.

Seeing the Sea-Tac mess, I advised him to reschedule for another time and enjoy a relaxing holiday here in Alaska.

The two spent the day at Alyeska Resort’s new Nordic Spa.

Miranda Pfaffard, Marketing Director of the Resort, said: “The cost is $119 per person for her, with access to hot, cold, and heated pools from 9am to 9pm,” she said.

If you need extra help relaxing after abandoning your air travel plans, book a massage. But you’d better plan it ahead. “Massage appointments are full,” said Fafard. There’s even a yoga class that Fafard calls “view yoga” because of the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the mountains.

Staying here in Alaska is now a better idea than going through Seattle, Portland, or the Continental U.S. Route 48 gateway. Let airports and airlines clean up the mess in the next week or two.

The pure white snow is a different feeling from the sandy beach. But layer up and check out some of our adventures north of Anchorage.

In Talkeetna, Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey offers a tour where you can crush your own dog team. After taking dog sledding lessons, Seabee can drive his team of dogs on his private trail for 45 minutes. Finally, meet the Iditarod champion sled dogs and play with their puppies.

Talkeetna has an extensive trail system throughout the city. Next to the airport, the Talkeetna Gear Shop lets you rent fat bikes, skis and snowshoes so you can get out and explore the country.

Alaska Wild Guides runs daily from Talkeetna to large yurts with views of Denali on snow machines. There, Iditarod masher Rick Casiro will meet you at the yurt and give you a primer on crushing dog teams. hold up! Not all tours have the option of sleigh driving, but all tours include the chance to see the dogs.

Alaska Wild Guides also offers daily snow machine tours from Girdwood to Spencer Glacier. All gear is included so you can stay warm and dry.

For a true winter adventure, why not take the Alaska Railroad’s weekly Aurora Winter Train to Fairbanks?The northbound train departs every Saturday morning. After an overnight stay in Fairbanks, the train returns every Sunday morning. The 12-hour ride is a lot of fun, but I’d rather go to the airport than take a full day on the rails on the way back.

You can bring your own snacks on the train of travel. From time to time the train makes stops to drop off passengers or to see some particularly spectacular sights.

A big attraction in Fairbanks is seeing the Northern Lights. There are several ways to do that. If you’re staying in town, take an evening tour and pick up where you think you can see the lights.

Aaron Lojewski of Fairbanks Aurora Tours captured some great images and posted them on his Instagram page. Lojewski likes the van’s mobility. Because the best visibility can be cloudy.

Northern Alaska Tour Co. offers a selection of northern lights viewing tours. Head north each night to Joy, about 90 minutes north of Fairbanks. Have a hot cup of coffee in a warm place while you wait for the Northern Lights to come out.

Northern Alaska also offers a more extensive journey up the Dalton Highway to Coldfoot at the foot of the Brooks Range. The company offers his one-day fly/drive package, but serious aurora hunters should budget a few days to see the aurora just in case it’s cloudy.

Check Explore Fairbanks for a long list of other activities in the area. Choose from other dog sledding tours, reindeer walks, ice fishing, skiing, snow machine tours and even curling.

In February, Fairbanks hosts the annual ice carving championship. During winter, he can see ice sculptors at work in Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles from Fairbanks. It can be chilly during the drive, but the water is nice and hot if you want to warm yourself up. Near the thermal pools is the Ice Museum, home to Steve and Heather Bryce’s championship ice carving team. They will carve you a glass of ice. That way, you can sit at the ice museum’s ice bar and have a cocktail.

Exploring Alaska’s winter wonderland is fun. But hey — I have a few business trips scheduled and all my planes pass through Seattle. So, like many other travelers, we are waiting and watching for air service to become reliable again.