What is the Best Season to Visit Alaska?

Many aspects come together to make a vacation in Alaska memorable, but one of the most important is the weather. After all, when you’re spending time in the great outdoors, you want to enjoy yourself! There’s no universal “best” time to visit Alaska. It’s a subjective decision.

However, it’s easy to break down windows of time throughout the year that provide exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation.

At Alaskan Footprints, we provide a unique range of guided walking food tours in Anchorage that showcase its fascinating history and thriving food scene. And our excursions also include van, wildlife, private, and corporate tours in the city and the surrounding areas.

As born and raised Alaskans, we know this incredible state inside out. Let us help you decide which time of year is the best for your visit. If you have any questions about our tours in the meantime, please feel free to get in touch.

What is the Best Time to Travel to Alaska?

Alaska is a year-round destination, so the best time for you to visit will depend on what you want to do here. Many people find their perfect Alaskan experience in the summer, between mid-May and mid-September.

Spring is a relatively short month here. As the hours of daylight rapidly increase, the temperature warms up quickly. By June, it’s more or less as hot as it’s going to get. This sets the stage for the peak travel season between July and August. During this time, the weather is warm and dry with refreshingly cool nights. Average daytime highs vary between 60°F and 80°F, with 40°F to 50°F at night. 

In May and September, you can expect temperatures to be around 5°F to 10°F cooler than this. By June, you have a full range of summer activities to choose from. This includes the Denali National Park road, which opens in the second week of June.

If you want to hit the hiking trails, those near Anchorage at lower elevations are typically clear of snow by May. Up in the mountains, push that back to early June.

Is the Alaska you want to visit a snowy wonderland? Winter is the longest season this far north, but there’s still plenty to see and do here! From dog sledding and snowmobiling to seeing the mesmerizing northern lights (more on this below!), if it’s thrilling winter activities you’re looking for, consider a trip between early November and late March.

For even more travel inspiration, check out what makes Anchorage and Alaska special.

Alaska is the Land of the Midnight Sun

Alaska receives an incredible amount of daylight in the summer.

These long days are ideal for making the most of your time in our home state. And you should experience the Midnight Sun at least once in your life! June 21st, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. In Anchorage, we see 19 hours of daylight on this day, while Fairbanks gets 22.

From late May to late July, darkness never truly sets in. It’s light outside all night. For another month either side of this window, it’s light after 10 pm. Those endless summer days, so full of opportunity and adventure, are just another reason why so many people love visiting Alaska at this time of year.

Discover even more curious facts about Alaska before your visit!

Wildlife Spotting Opportunities Peak in Summer

A trip to Alaska isn’t complete without seeing our state’s iconic wildlife. Generally speaking, the same May to September window is great for spotting the famous animals that call our state home.

However, it’s particularly active here between July and August. Bear viewings start around mid-June and are at their best in July. They then start to feast on migrating fish in August before hibernating through the long winter. As for moose, you can encounter these majestic animals year-round.

Gray whales migrate up to our waters in March and/or April, while humpbacks are here between May and September. Orcas are another year-round presence. Do you want fit in some fishing too? Good news — the fishing’s great all summer long!

Learn even more about Alaska’s wild side by reading our previous blog Wildlife Watching Around Anchorage.

Can I See the Northern Lights in Alaska?

You absolutely can, but not in summer. To see the dazzling light show of the Aurora Borealis, you need dark winter nights. 

However, just as spring rapidly warms up with increased daylight, it doesn’t take long for the deep, dark nights to set in again. Because of this, fall starts early in Alaska. It’s typical to see the shimmering green lights in the sky as soon as late August. As such, it is possible to view the aurora while still being able to enjoy summer vacation activities. But you’ll need to plan a visit around mid-August to mid-September.

But because the northern lights are visible all through the winter and into April, you can make them part of an unforgettable winter escape. Typically, the best time for an aurora winter vacation is in February or March.

A trip to Alaska in winter opens up a whole world of amazing opportunities, including:

  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog sledding
  • Snowboarding
  • Skiing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Ice fishing
  • Winter biking
  • Ice skating
  • Ice hockey
  • Ice climbing
  • The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

The snowy, icy landscapes in and around Anchorage are a spectacular sight and a unique backdrop for a vacation with family or friends, or a solo adventure.

When Can I See Fall Colors in Alaska?

Alaska’s fall foliage peaks between mid-August and mid-September, and it’s most striking in the tundra above the treeline.

Visiting in September has the added benefit of it being shoulder season. This means you’re more likely to find discounts on hotels. There are also no bugs and you have a chance of seeing the northern lights, if you’re lucky. But the weather isn’t reliable. September is usually rainy and cooler — but there’s also the likelihood of a wonderful Indian summer.

September is also the last month you can join our walking, van, and wildlife tours for the year, including our Anchorage Walking Tour and Matanuska Tour: Full-Day Guided Van Adventure.

Explore Alaska’s History and Food Scene with Our Guided Walking Tours

So, when are you visiting Alaska? At Alaskan Footprints, we love showing people around the place we call home.

Do you want to join one of our guided walking food tours in Anchorage? Does a van or wildlife day trip in the surrounding areas hold more appeal? Or do you want a corporate or private tour in Anchorage tailored to your group’s needs?

With Alaskan Footprints, you get to know Alaska’s natural and human history while sampling its one-of-a-kind culinary scene.

If you have any questions about our tours in Alaska, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.