If you are like many people, Alaska has been a dream vacation spot for you for many years. Most people start planning a trip to Alaska at least one to two years out. But when is the best time of year to visit Alaska? Well, it honestly depends on what you love to do. There are really two main seasons in Alaska – Winter and Summer. Here are some tips to help you to decide when to visit Alaska.
Travel Alaska: The Best Time to Visit – Winter
The leaves start to turn shades of golden yellow and fiery red at the end of August and into September. This is the perfect time to visit the Denali National Park and Preserve, and see the tundra’s last fanfare before it settles into various shades of white in winter. The mountain ranges in the interior area of Alaska are some of the most beautiful places to see the changing of the seasons. It happens quickly as summer is shooed out and the calm and cold of winter is welcomed in.
One of the most popular things to do in Alaska in the winter is to go snow machining. You can do this on designated trails or go out to where there isn’t another living soul. If you are an avid skier, head over to the Alyeska Resort which is south of Anchorage and one of the most beautiful ski resorts in Alaska. You can also take a helicopter to a top of a mountain or glacier and ski down. They have these available where at the base of the mountain is a tiny town that welcomes you with a warm drink and a ride back to town.
If you are into hunting, you will want to visit Alaska from August to October. Some game permits open up again in February to March. To find out what’s in season and what you need for hunting and fishing, visit the Licenses and Permits page of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Most roads are completely closed during the winter time, typically October to March in Alaska. Before you plan your visit, check to make sure your passage is clear. Do not drive in Alaska in the winter without being prepared.
Travel Alaska: The Best Time to Visit – Summer
If you are planning on taking a cruise to Alaska, the Inside Passage opens up mid-May depending on the snowfall from that past season. The last cruise ship leaves Alaska in the middle of September. The most popular months to cruise are July and August. You can get better deals if you are on the shoulders of the popular cruise dates.
Fishing in Alaska is the most popular summertime event. The salmon start to run throughout the state in mid-June with the red sockeye coming through in waves. The silver salmon come through in the tens of thousands in August. Halibut fishing is most popular in June in the Gulf of Alaska.
Wildlife viewing is also at an all time high in the summer months. Bears come out of hibernation with their cubs, moose have just calved, eagles have laid their eggs, and the land animals are out eating in abundance. In the ocean it is also baby time! Orcas are teaching their young to hunt and the other whales like Humpback, Blue, and Greys have made the long migration to spend the summer in Alaska’s fish-filled waters. There are also Stellar Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, and the Alaskan Puffins found throughout the Gulf of Alaska in the summer.
Travel Alaska: The Best Time to Visit – Anytime
No matter when you plan your vacation to Alaska, you will never be bored as there are so many things to see and do in this great big state!
Planning an Alaskan road trip? Check out our Alaska Road Trip: Choose Your Adventure – Mountains or Sea? for ideas and things to see and do.
Have you traveled to Alaska? I’d love to hear about your experience!