Playing in a Winter Wonderland

Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAO

Ready to come out and play in the snow? Fort Wainwright Outdoor Recreation Center recommends since you're in Alaska anyway you should take advantage of the opportunity and get outside. Here are their favorite top 10 things to do:

1. Ice fishing at Birch Lake.
2. Snowshoeing along the Chena River.
3. Watch the northern lights at Cleary Summit.
4. Ride the Slush Cup during March Madness at Birch Hill.
5. Become a member of the Forty Below Club at the Fischer Skeet Range.
6. Go snowmachining in the White Mountains.
7. Watch the IFSS (sled dog races) World Championships in North Pole.
8. Cross-country skiing in the Chena Recreation Area.
9. Enjoy a soak in a hot spring at 40 below.
10. Spend the night in a backcountry cabin.

Outdoor Recreation offers something for everyone, no matter if you're new in town, an old Alaska Sourdough or looking to entertain the whole family.
Lara Patterson, Outdoor Recreation Center director, believes that a family that "plays together, stays together," and has developed a family program.
"I hear from our customers that they have a hard time finding babysitters or one parent attends and the other stays home. We have a big customer base that are families so why not provide recreational opportunities geared more towards the little ones and parents get to participate too," she said.
New programs this year include family snowshoeing and snowmachining, (children must be 8 years old or older), ice-climbing, glacier-caving and winter carnival. For those who enjoy or just want to try cross-country skiing there will be plenty of opportunities under the full moon, during lunch breaks and over local trails.
Patterson said patrons should take note that "Any program with family in front of the name is geared toward kids. Typically we do have to put an age limit on some trips and that just has to do with safety," she said.
The ever popular Women in the Wilderness series has some great trips planned again this season, including snowshoeing and ice-fishing.
"The Women the Wilderness Program is a great avenue for women to not only gain the benefits of recreational pursuits and maybe step out of their comfort zones and do something new, but it's a great vehicle for socializing with other community and a great way to relieve stress," Patterson said.
Outdoor Recreation is not leaving members of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers organization out in the cold this season. Patterson said there are plenty of trips planned for them as well. They should contact their unit BOSS representatives to sign up.
You don't have to go on an organized trip to make use of all of Outdoor Recreation has to offer. Equipment from skis to snowmachines (and a whole lot more) can be rented there. Some equipment requires a safety course before being released for rental.
The Outdoor Recreation staff's unofficial motto is : "If you are an avid outdoors lover, complete novice or somewhere in between and would like to get out and get active in Alaska's great outdoors, the Outdoor Recreation Center is the place to be. Go. Explore." They will try to make the process as easy as possible.
For more information on any Outdoor Recreation program stop by and chat with the friendly staff at Building 4050 (right inside the main gate) or give them a call at 361-4089.
Outdoor Recreation can also be found on Facebook or at http://www.ftwainwrightfmwr.com/outdoorrec.html.