The best time to visit Alaska depends on your interests. Alaska is amazing any time of year, but most travelers prefer to visit during the warm and bright summer months, with July being the busiest. Most Alaska vacation tours are only offered during the summer months from mid-May through mid-September. Summer is also the peak season for Alaska businesses that cater to tourists, so your travel, lodging, sightseeing and adventure options are seemingly unlimited.
The warm weather and long daylight hours allow you to enjoy all that Alaska has to offer. The state, its residents (humans and animals) and communities are buzzing during the summer. Alaska’s midnight sun makes scenic viewpoints and landscapes spectacular and can fuel your long days of touring the state, soaking up the sights or going on adventures. In addition, services at the state and national parks are open, fish are abundant and the bears are out of hibernation. Look around and you’ll see fun outdoor activities and natural attractions everywhere – from farmers markets and fairs, fishing derbies and hiking trails, and abundant animals like birds, moose, bears and salmon.
The main tourist season is approx. May 15 to September 15. Tourist attractions and summer excursions mostly do not start / open before May 15 and have almost all closed down by September 15. The most popular time to visit is typically between mid-June and mid-August. During this time, we have the most sunlight (nearly 24 hours), the warmest temperatures (between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and the best weather (mostly sunny, very little rain). We typically receive some rain from about the last two weeks of August through the beginning of September. After the first week of September, things quiet down and it can already start snowing in higher elevation.
Winter is also a spectacular season in Alaska. Starting at the end of August, the Northern Lights can be seen around Fairbanks (if weather is clear at night). In Anchorage, we typically do not get the first snow until December, which means winter sports activities are not possible until then. February and March are the best winter months to enjoy all that Alaskan winters have to offer, as we are gaining daylight and temperatures are comfortable. Winter tours typically operate until the end of March.
From November through March, Alaska is a beautiful, winter wonderland. While there are fewer travel and exploration options in Alaska during the winter, the state is just as fascinating and fun as in Alaska’s other seasons. Prices are lower and, with fewer visitors, the availability is better.
But while winter in Alaska certainly is quieter, it does have its own unique charm. The landscapes are just as breathtaking when they are blanketed in bright white snow. And winter adventures in Alaska are chilling and thrilling – alpine and Nordic skiing, snow machining, dog sled riding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and winter king salmon runs, and more. And then there are the northern lights, which are worth a trip to Alaska all on their own. They light up the sky in the winter, sometimes even dance and crackle, and must be seen to be believed. You’ll also find many unique Alaskan events, such as the Iditarod and the World Ice Art Championships.
Regardless of when you visit Alaska, you are sure to have an adventure to remember!