When is the best time to visit Alaska?
Raw, wild, and wonderful, Alaska is nature at its finest. With majestic glaciers to view and trek upon, unforgettable landscapes to gaze at endlessly, and an incredible variety of wildlife, Alaska satiates your spirit of adventure and love for the outdoors. Find out the best times to visit Alaska, learn about its breathtaking national parks, and be part of unique land and sea experiences.
With warm day time temperatures, clear blue skies, and dry days, the best and busiest months to visit Alaska are from June to August. If you want to revel in the beauty of this state without the crowds, then the months of April, May, and September also present good weather conditions to travel to Alaska.
It’s the coldest month of the year, and snowfall is a common occurrence. Days are short, with only 3 hours of sunlight. Temperatures in Anchorage barely touch 20°F, and daytime highs in Denali National Park are only around 5°F.
- Sled the valleys and peaks of Hatcher Pass, located 60 miles from Anchorage
- Hop aboard the Alaskan Railroad – a great way to see the state during the winter season
Snowstorms and cold winds are typical of the month of February. Average daytime temperatures are still below freezing and days are only slightly longer than in January. Winter sports are in full swing, but you will need extreme winter clothing if you want to travel during this month.
- Watch international artists create the most exquisite ice sculptures at the world’s largest ice carving competition at Fairbanks
- February’s cold temperatures call for a dip at the Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks
Towns in the southern part of the state see temperatures inch above the freezing point. Animals start to wake up from winter hibernation, and smaller cruises begin to ferry travelers by the second half of the month.
- Watch the night sky put on a brilliant Northern Lights display from Fairbanks
- Browse through historical, cultural and scientific exhibits at the Anchorage Museum
The snow starts to melt in the southern region with daytime highs in Anchorage and Glacier Bay National Park in the mid to high 40s. Sparkling freshwater streams and wildlife viewing opportunities make April a good month to visit Alaska.
- Head out for a whale-watching expedition from Seward
- Alaska’s most spectacular scenery awaits as you take a cruise through the Inside Passage
In most of Alaska, daytime temperatures are quite mild at 50°F – 60°F and the bigger cruise ships have yet to arrive, making May one of the best months to visit Alaska.
- Watch hungry grizzly bears hunt for their meal during the salmon spawning season at Tongass National Park
- Take a boat ride from Wrangell St Elias National Park to view the longest tidewater glacier in the world, the Hubbard Glacier.
It’s the start of summer with temperatures in Fairbanks touching 70°F while in the national parks, daytime highs are in the upper 50s. Warm temperatures, clear skies and dry conditions make June one of the best times to visit Alaska.
- Head to Juneau to trek the Mendenhall Glacier
- Sign up for an exciting and safe grizzly bear viewing experience at the Katmai National Park that takes you up close with these mighty creatures.
It’s peak tourist season, and there are plenty of reasons for it – it’s the warmest month of the year, blue skies and dry days are the norm, and sunlight hours extend past midnight.
- Walk along the mile-long Totem Trail in Sitka National Historical Park
- Hop aboard the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad that takes you past picturesque rivers, waterfalls and gorges
The crowds of peak season continue during the month of August. It’s the last month of Alaska’s short summer, and temperatures drop by the second half of the month. Temperatures in Fairbanks and the southern cities are now in the low to mid-60s.
- Kayak your way to the awe-inspiring Columbia Glacier, part of the Prince William Sound, from the town of Valdez.
- Spot a mind-boggling number of animals – bears, moose, sea lions, orca, puffins and more, at Glacier Bay National Park
September is a transition month in Alaska with dropping temperatures and increased rainfall. Temperatures in Fairbanks and Anchorage are now in the low to mid-50s. Fall foliage starts to appear by the middle of the month.
- Witness an incredible fall color show at Denali National Park
- For a meaningful insight into the lives of the local tribes, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage
Brilliant fall colors and snow topping the mountains and trees make Alaska in October a beautiful sight. Temperatures drop to freezing in Fairbanks and to the low 40s in Anchorage, Seward, Skagway, and Valdez
- Visit the charming port city of Seward
- Set off for a half or full-day boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park
The month marks the start of Alaska’s long and cold winter. Daytime temperatures drop well below freezing in Denali National Park and Fairbanks. Snowstorms are a common occurrence, and the state sees only 3 hours of sunshine per day.
- Try your hand at ice fishing at Quartz Lake
- Watch the largest migration of bald eagles at Chilkat River near Haines
Gray skies and abundant snow dominate December forecasts. Day time temperatures are at or below freezing across the state.
- Get a bird’s eye view of the mountains covered in snow as you hop aboard a plane for a flight tour
- Ice skate on a frozen lake at Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage
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Best time to visit Alaska by season
Contrary to its image of a snow-clad land, Alaska experiences all 4 seasons.
The summer season coincides with the high tourist season and runs from late June to August. In the central and southern parts of the state, temperatures fall in the range of 60°F – 72°F. Long days with 18- 24 hours of sunshine give you plenty of time to explore the state. The state slips into the fall season by September with a glorious display of autumn colors happening towards the end of the month and the beginning of October. Temperatures drop into the 40s and 50s and rainfall levels increase.
Alaska’s winter sets in November and continues through mid-March. The season is characterized by gray skies, short days, snowstorms and abundant snowfall. It’s the best time to watch the dancing Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. The wildlife that Alaska is famous for wakes up from its sleepy slumber by the end of March. By April the snow is melting, lakes and rivers fill up and the hillside is covered in wildflowers. Evenings are still cold but day time temperatures climb into the mid-40s and 50s.
What to pack for a trip to Alaska?
No matter what time of the year you are planning to visit, the key to packing for a trip to Alaska is ‘layers’. Since there are considerable differences between daytime and evening temperatures, wearing warm layers allows you to dress up or down depending on weather conditions. A warm, waterproof jacket and rain gear are a must as are good quality hiking shoes. With plenty of outdoor activities to participate in, we recommend packing long-sleeved quick-drying shirts, pants, and a foldable hiking pole. For half-day and full-day trips, we suggest you pack a day pack with water, snacks, sun protection, insect repellant, and binoculars. A down jacket and scarf are also necessary for times when there are strong winds.
Summers see plenty of sunshine hours that go well past midnight so pack an eye mask that will help you fall asleep. If you are traveling during winter, plan on getting your warmest layers – thermals, woolens, warm jackets, winter socks, boots, gloves, and caps.
Contact our travel experts to find out the best times to visit Alaska. Let us create your tailor-made itinerary so that you can experience the many unique wonders of this stunning state.
Chitina, Alaska sits in the shadow of Mount Blackburn, near the confluence of the Copper river and the Chitina river.
Denali National Park and Preserve, with its primeval landscape and untamed wilderness, promises a one-of-a-kind adventure.
Denali National Park
Fairbanks is the second largest city in the state of Alaska with all the charms of small town life.
Girdwood, tucked into a valley within the Chugach Mountains, has the distinction of being Alaska’s only resort town with plenty to offer year round.
Explore Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, a pristine wilderness region overlooking the Gulf of Alaska on the state's southern tip.
Glacier Bay National Park
One of the very best travel experiences I have ever had. We even got updates once at 3 am! He also made one change in one day’s itinerary to accommodate our wishes which was very wonderful. For business, I have traveled to Europe, Russia, all over Asia and South Africa but was blown away by all the beautiful sites in Argentina and Chile.
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This was my first adventure as a solo traveler. But while I may have traveled on my own, I was never alone. I was well taken care of by a superb team of planners, trip coordinators, guides and drivers.
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