Alaska tour news & travel advisory  

How Far In Advance Should I Plan My Alaska Vacation?

Published: February 23, 2016

We’ve been asked just about EVERY question on how to get the most out of your trip to Alaska. One of the most frequently asked questions is “how far in advance should I start planning my Alaska vacation?”

Alaska has a short peak travel season. With about 80% of Alaska visitors traveling to Alaska between June and August, hotel space fills up quickly. For best availability and pricing options, we recommend making your summer vacation reservations for your Alaska trip by the end of January. Last minute reservations may be available up to a month in advance of travel, but routing, itineraries and hotel choices will necessarily be based on remaining availability.


Exclusive Alaska experiences that are in high demand, such as all-inclusive lodge stays inside national parks, small ship cruises, and multi-day fishing trips should be booked as early as possible – up to a year in advance is required for some!

May and September, the “shoulder season” in Alaska, are quieter months and do not sell out as early. Booking two to three months in advance is generally sufficient time to reserve everything you desire in these months. With cooler temperatures, iconic sites and tours are less crowded and somewhat less expensive than during the peak summer season.

AWCC moose calves

Day trips can usually be arranged closer to your travel dates. We require at least 10 days’ notice to book a tour, to allow us time to confirm it and send you your travel documents before you leave home. However, we recommend making reservations further in advance for any activities that you know you want to do, because any tour can potentially sell out. Bear viewing, fishing, and helicopter tours tend to fill up first. If you would be disappointed to arrive in Alaska and find out that a tour is unavailable, then it is something you should definitely book in advance.

Winter is a completely different Alaska experience, with snow sports, like skiing, dog sledding, and Northern Lights viewing taking center stage. Many national parks, hotels, and summertime activities are closed. Because it is a quieter season with fewer visitors, it is easier to book your vacation only a few weeks in advance. However, during the holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s, and Spring Break, many tours sell out about two to three months in advance.

Green aurora over a winter landscape and highway in Alaska

Aurora over Alaska (Kent Miller/NPS)

These are only general guidelines to help you prepare for your Alaska travel planning. Certain days of the week, activities, or destinations may require more or less advanced planning. If you have any questions about your specific wish list, please give us a call