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When to visit Alaska

The best time to visit Alaska is between May and September. As the largest of the US states, the climate in Alaska varies dramatically according to where you are, but as a general rule it is a summer destination, with long hot days and verdant landscape, whilst the winters are dark and cold. As the summer progresses the chance of rain increases too, with over 50% chance of rain in August and the further inland you travel, the warmer the temperature is. Wherever in The Great Land you are hoping to visit, how you plan and what to bring will be important considerations due to the diversity of climates.

As Alaska is pretty vast, each area has its own type of climate. The natural wonders and rich Eskimo heritage of the Far North are most popularly visited during the summer season between mid-June and August. The number of daylight hours ranges from 0 in December to 24 in June/July. Eskimo whaling culture can be witnessed each spring time when the annual bowhead whale hunt commences. The interior area of Alaska is known to experience extremes of weather, with temperatures as low as -54°C or -65°F in Fairbanks during the winter months, whilst averaging 17°C or 62°F in summer. Wildlife in the Taiga forests is less obvious than in other areas due to the harsh climate here. Wolves, lynx, moose and caribou grow thicker coats in order to keep the cold at bay!

St Alaska Lake Clark National Park Jesse Hasup

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The best time to visit Alaska

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

This is not an ideal month to travel to Alaska.

The South Central area of Alaska tends to stay temperate year-round thanks to the moderating effects of the sea, and it is more accessible than some other parts of the state. This region receives a significant amount of snow in the winter. The average summer temperature here is 12 - 18 ºC, being between 3 - 6 ºC warmer in cities such as Anchorage as they are a little further inland. Even further inland, the summer average is even higher, sometimes reaching 26 ºC in places such as Fairbanks. It is here you can see the Kodiak bears of Katmai, and the best time to see them is July and August. As for the South East and South West, these areas are typically wet and cool, with temperatures averaging 10 - 15ºC or 50 – 59ºF. The South Eastern Panhandle is where Ketchikan, just south of Juneau and Sitka, holds the record of 17ft of rain in one year, whereas other areas receive as little as 20 inches. As the area is temperate rainforest, you could experience rainfall at any time of year, but the summer months between May and September offer the mildest, driest weather, when temperatures can reach up to 18°C or 65°F.

May to September: Summer

This is the best time to visit Alaska, during the summer months. Temperatures are not as harsh as during the winter months and the number of daylight hours are higher during this time. This is a prime time for bear viewing, especially for brown bears and black bears. Coastal regions like Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, and the Alaska Peninsula are excellent places to see bears, as they congregate to fish for salmon during this season. Southeast Alaska is home to brown and black bears and humpback whales, with the optimum months between July and August.

October to April

This is the winter season in Alaska and not as ideal to travel in. Travelling to parks such as Wrangell St Elias can still be visited whilst covered in snow.

What to do in Alaska

Bear Viewing

Alaska is famous for its bear viewing opportunities. Head to places like Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, or the Alaska Peninsula to see brown bears and black bears in their natural habitats. You can observe them fishing for salmon during the summer months.

Whale Watching

Take a whale-watching tour along Alaska's coasts to see humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and other marine mammals. Some of the top spots for whale watching include Juneau, Sitka, and the Inside Passage. Summer is also the best time for whale watching in Alaska, with humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and other species frequently spotted along the coasts.


Alaska is a haven for birdwatchers. Visit locations like the Kodiak Archipelago, the Copper River Delta, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to spot bald eagles, puffins, sandhill cranes, and various other bird species. Migratory birds return to Alaska during the summer, making it a fantastic time for birdwatching, you can spot eagles, puffins, shorebirds, and other avian species.

Hiking and Trekking

Go hiking in Alaska's national parks and wilderness areas for a chance to see wildlife while exploring pristine landscapes. Trails in Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park offer excellent opportunities.