Best Months for Travel to Alaska

Alaska is a great place to visit anytime of the year.  The “best” time really depends on what you want to do in Alaska.  For instance – the driest, warmest months don’t offer views of the Aurora Borealis due to extended hours of daylight, so if the Northern Lights are what you are coming to see June is not the best time for you to visit. Most visitors come to Alaska from mid-May to mid-September, with the peak season from June 15th to August 15th.   The peak period offers the most tour options, the best weather and the best wildlife viewing opportunities.  Below is a breakdown of what is great and not so great about different travel time periods.

MAY is a great value time to visit Alaska – the weather is warming up, the trees are blooming and the grass gets greener every day.  Usually, May is a drier month than later in the summer.  Alaska tends to get more rain as the summer goes on.   Temperatures are cool at the start of May and warm up as the month progresses.  The days are long and Alaska begins to bloom.  The trees in Anchorage usually leaf out around May 10th and a bit later than that further north. Keep in mind that the further north you go during early May, the more chance you have of encountering ice and snow that have yet to melt.  Summer is slow to come in Interior Alaska! Many tours throughout Alaska begin operating around May 15th.  Due to the early season, many tours and hotels offer discounted prices.  The time periods prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day are considered the “shoulder” season which translates to less crowds and more opportunities for discounts. Tours into Denali National Park begin mid-May but they cannot go as deep into the Park as usual due to early season road conditions.  The Park Road is not usually fully accessible until after the first week of June.   The further you go into the park, the more opportunity there is to see wildlife and Mt. Denali.

JUNE is the driest time to visit Alaska and offers the most hours of daylight – June 21st is the longest day of the year.  The flowers around town are in bloom and the tourist season is in full swing.  Many believe that June is the best month to see Alaska. June is probably the worst time for mosquitoes but that should only be a consideration if you are planning on an active hiking and camping vacation.

JULY is peak season in Alaska and is the warmest month of the year.   If Alaska can get crowded, July is when it happens.  The buses and boats are full and advanced reservations are imperative!  If you are planning to visit Alaska in July, we recommend booking your vacation in January for best availability.   In July, the main tourist destinations have less elbow room than normal but Alaska is a huge state so if you want to avoid the crowds there are plenty of places to go.

AUGUST may be a little rainier but it is generally warmer than June and the bugs have decreased.  The crowds begin to diminish as the summer comes to an end.  We also see less daylight in August but unless you have seen Alaska in June you probably won’t notice!  August features the Alaska State Fair in Palmer – about an hour drive from Anchorage.  The fair usually starts in the last week of August and runs through Labor Day.

SEPTEMBER brings cooler temperatures and darker nights.  The cooler temperatures bring beautiful colors to the trees and tundra and the darker nights offer the opportunity to view the Northern Lights.  The tourism season is winding down so you will find fewer crowds and lower prices.  There will be some tours that stop operating in early September but most tours continue until mid-September.  Denali hotels and businesses close for the winter about that time as well.

Summer temperatures in Alaska are cooler than you may find in the other 49 states but visitors describe Alaska temperatures as “pleasant and refreshingly cool”.  Keep in mind that Alaska weather is highly unpredictable and whatever the weather brings for your vacation, we recommend getting out and having fun.  The variable weather is part of the Alaskan experience so come prepared and enjoy the experience whether the sun is shining or not!

Winter is long in Alaska.  I believe that the best time to visit Alaska in the winter is late February and March, which offers more daylight and less extreme temperatures.  Anchorage offers a plethora of cross-country ski trails and the world class ski resort, Alyeska, is just 35 miles south of Anchorage.   Two popular winter events also occur during this time.  Fur Rendezvous, a winter festival in Anchorage, begins in late February.  The Iditarod sled dog race starts the first week of March.

Alaska is a unique experience whatever time of year you choose to visit, but I believe Alaska has the most to offer in summer or late winter.  Tourist activities are at a minimum during the months of October, November and April. These months are transition times between the seasons and visitors don’t have the opportunity to see Alaska at its best.

Every Alaskan has their own opinion on “When is the best time to visit Alaska?”  Ask ten different people and you will get ten different answers.  Hopefully, the information included in this blog will help you determine when is the best time for YOU to visit?  We hope to see you soon!


  1. February 6th, 2012 | 10:57 am

    […] For further details you can also check out our blog post on Best Months for Travel to Alaska. […]

  2. Jeff R
    February 6th, 2012 | 11:04 am

    Great post Susan!

  3. February 9th, 2012 | 2:06 pm

    […] whether it is a good time to come to Alaska depends on what you are seeking to do. Please visit our blog for our recommendations on the best time to visit Alaska. […]

  4. deb UK
    February 18th, 2012 | 12:26 pm

    Really helpful , I’ll keep visiting!

  5. May 3rd, 2013 | 12:43 pm

    […] safe to always be prepared and bring a rain jacket and clothes to dress in layers. Please visit our blog on best months to travel to Alaska for more information on what to expect on your […]

  6. May 9th, 2013 | 11:39 am

    […] offers something a little different and weather is difficult to predict. Read our blog on the “best months to visit Alaska” to find the pros and cons of each […]

  7. Bill P
    March 25th, 2015 | 11:39 am

    I will be in Fairbanks for a few days in Oct. I understand most tourist places close down that time of year. Can anyone recommend some interesting things to in October? Thanks

  8. April 30th, 2015 | 7:32 am

    October is really a transition month between the summer activities and winter ones. Most folks that come up in October are seeking to see the Northern Lights. There are a few tour operators that provide services that time of year – we’d suggest contacting Northern Alaska Tours or 1st Alaska Outdoor School both based in Fairbanks.

  9. Diane B
    June 15th, 2015 | 3:40 pm

    I very much enjoyed your review. I wonder if you can help me with the average temps. from the middle of August to middle of Sept. I have no idea what type of cloths to bring. I’m 62 and my first time away from home. I need all the help I can get.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Diane B.

  10. Mark Nelson
    July 20th, 2015 | 12:34 pm

    I will be in the Anchorage area the last week in September. Can you tell me if I can still travel from Anchorage to Seward and back on the train. Also other things that will still be available to do in the Anchorage area.

  11. August 19th, 2015 | 2:59 pm

    The scheduled rail and motor-coach services will be done for the season by the time you arrive. You could still rent a car and visit Seward though. The drive should still be beautiful!

  12. August 19th, 2015 | 3:01 pm

    Bring lots of layers and rain gear to give you the most flexility. Day time temps will be in the 50’s once September arrives.

  13. Connie Ryder
    January 26th, 2016 | 12:57 pm

    I will be traveling the Alaskan Highway in beginning of March. Is it safe to travel then and are the roads clear during this time of year? Thank you.

  14. February 4th, 2016 | 10:34 am

    Generally speaking the Alaska Highway is well maintained but you will want to make sure your vehicle is in good condition and have the appropriate emergency – safety equipment on board. The distances are far and if there is a winter storm there are a lot of miles for the highway maintenance crews to maintain so it can take a while. Be sure to bring a cold-weather sleeping bag and other gear as well in case you get stuck or delayed on the highway due to winter weather conditions. We always recommend that anybody traveling on the Alaska Highway purchase a MilePost to use as your planning resource and be sure to know where and how far a part gas stations are to refill because some stations are closed seasonally.

  15. Ken Crooks
    January 7th, 2017 | 11:45 am

    We are planning a visit to Alaska in July 2017.

    What are the normal Black Fly conditions at that time?

    We will be crusing with some inland excursions.

  16. January 28th, 2017 | 1:02 pm

    We do have flies in Alaska but they aren’t prevalent enough to be an issue.

  17. March 4th, 2017 | 9:03 am

    Can you recommend a cruise up from Seattle or Vancouver to a destination and perhaps a train;sighseeing; back to Seattle or rental car to include the best park to visit and see the most. Thanks, Dick Faunce

  18. March 4th, 2017 | 9:04 am

    i forgot it would be late July

  19. March 7th, 2017 | 9:35 am

    Dick – We usually recommend the Gulf of Alaska / Voyage of the Glaciers cruises from Vancouver BC to either Seward (Holland America, Royal Carib) or Whittier (Princess). Choose one that visits Glacier Bay National Park. From Seward or Whittier you can travel by motorcoach to rail into Southcentral and Interior Alaska. You’ll have to fly back to home though. No one does land tours through Canada these days.

Leave a reply