When is the best time to visit Alaska?
Due to the northerly latitude, the main travelling season in Alaska is limited to the summer months of mid-June to mid-September. Alaska’s wildlife, including bears, sea otters, seals and whales, is visible throughout this period, although June and July tend to be the best months for sightings. The warm weather and long days make this a particularly pleasant time of year. The weather in Alaska changes very quickly at any time of year, but many excursions stop operating in early September in anticipation of the wintry weather. Unless you are looking for winter sports or northern lights in extreme conditions, the winter months are best avoided.
Jon, Canada Specialist
Our favourite time of year is July, which is really the best time of year to visit. The days are long with plenty of daylight and can be warm and sunny. The Alaskan wildlife has emerged from winter hibernation and national parks are open and accessible, with walking trails offering spectacular views. Communities across the state celebrate the summer and there are a number of cultural events and local festivals to enjoy.
Alaska Climate Guide
|Anchorage||-7°C 23mm||-3°C 21mm||1°C 17mm||7°C 14mm||13°C 18mm||17°C 29mm||19°C 50mm||17°C 66mm||13°C 68mm||5°C 46mm||-2°C 28mm||-6°C 30mm|
|Barrow||-22°C 4mm||-24°C 4mm||-22°C 4mm||-14°C 5mm||-4°C 4mm||4°C 7mm||8°C 24mm||6°C 25mm||1°C 16mm||-7°C 11mm||-15°C 6mm||-21°C 4mm|
|Denali National Park||-15°C 27mm||-13°C 28mm||-9°C 29mm||-2°C 21mm||7°C 21mm||14°C 59mm||16°C 86mm||13°C 91mm||7°C 64mm||-3°C 39mm||-11°C 31mm||-14°C 31mm|
|Fairbanks||-19°C 24mm||-15°C 18mm||-5°C 13mm||5°C 8mm||15°C 18mm||21°C 37mm||22°C 50mm||19°C 49mm||12°C 35mm||0°C 25mm||-11°C 24mm||-19°C 24mm|
|Glacier Bay National Park||0°C 123mm||2°C 116mm||5°C 91mm||9°C 70mm||13°C 74mm||16°C 63mm||18°C 84mm||18°C 115mm||14°C 182mm||9°C 248mm||3°C 182mm||0°C 170mm|
|Juneau||-2°C 125mm||1°C 108mm||4°C 98mm||8°C 84mm||13°C 100mm||16°C 91mm||18°C 122mm||17°C 157mm||13°C 207mm||8°C 234mm||2°C 149mm||0°C 140mm|
|Katmai National Park||-4°C 50mm||-3°C 41mm||0°C 43mm||4°C 43mm||10°C 49mm||15°C 51mm||17°C 63mm||16°C 96mm||13°C 98mm||5°C 82mm||0°C 60mm||-4°C 57mm|
|Ketchikan||3°C 319mm||5°C 285mm||6°C 252mm||9°C 251mm||12°C 199mm||15°C 167mm||17°C 150mm||18°C 221mm||15°C 303mm||10°C 515mm||6°C 389mm||4°C 358mm|
|Seward||-2°C 132mm||0°C 116mm||2°C 83mm||6°C 84mm||11°C 84mm||14°C 52mm||17°C 57mm||16°C 109mm||12°C 201mm||6°C 225mm||2°C 151mm||-1°C 158mm|
|Skagway||-7°C 80mm||-4°C 75mm||1°C 58mm||7°C 39mm||12°C 36mm||17°C 35mm||18°C 44mm||17°C 59mm||13°C 93mm||6°C 131mm||-1°C 96mm||-5°C 96mm|
|Valdez||-5°C 112mm||-3°C 110mm||1°C 89mm||6°C 72mm||11°C 66mm||15°C 71mm||17°C 90mm||16°C 124mm||12°C 174mm||5°C 166mm||-1°C 128mm||-4°C 142mm|
Month-by-month guide to travelling in Alaska
- January - April Jan - Apr
- May - June May - Jun
- July - August Jul - Aug
- September - October Sep - Oct
- November - December Nov - Dec
Visiting Alaska in January - April
Alaska’s long winter stretches from October through to April, during which temperatures plunge to well below freezing, the nights are long and much of the state goes into a hibernation-like shutdown. Although winter sports are available and a few lodges offer northern lights viewing, this is not the best time of year to visit Alaska.
Visiting Alaska in May - June
Spring in Alaska can be relatively short as increasing daylight hours mean temperatures begin to rise quickly. A warm spring can make the second half of May a nice time of year, with wildlife coming out of hibernation and hungry for the first meal of the year. Prices are lower and places are quieter, although the weather is unpredictable.
Events & Festivals
- Boat trips (June): The start of warmer weather brings opportunities for coastal boat trips and cruises that are ideal for spotting some of the region's incredible marine life. See whales, otters, seals, walrus and dolphins.
Visiting Alaska in July - August
Beginning in July and stretching through to the end of August the summer is the nicest time of year to travel. July is the best month for travelling, although it is also the busiest. Warm days and short nights make this a really nice time of year to visit and much of the state’s iconic wildlife is very active.
Events & Festivals
- Fourth of July: The population of Seward swells from around 2,500 to nearly 40,000 for the July Fourth celebrations. The Main Street is blocked off to traffic as the streets fill with a colourful parade, entertainers and a series of brightly decorated floats.
- Alaskan State Fair (August): Taking place in Palmer, this is the largest event of the state with a fairground, carnival and concert to mark the last few days of summer.
Visiting Alaska in September - October
Autumn is very short in Alaska with the rapidly diminishing daylight hours meaning temperatures soon begin to fall. Autumn begins in mid-September and is more or less over just a few weeks later. Much of the wildlife returns to hibernation, smaller properties begin to close and many excursions stop operating.
Visiting Alaska in November - December
The days are darker, snow may have started falling and the temperatures drop with the onset of winter. Despite this, November and December are still lively months with holiday season festivals and the re-opening of ice skating rinks. Great for family entertainment.
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