If you want to know what to do in Alaska in the summer, read on to learn more about our Best of Alaska Summer Tour!
What would you do with 8 days in Alaska in the summer? What things are there to do in Alaska in the summer? It’s hard to narrow down all your choices. Glacier trekking? Whale watching? Kayaking with the otters and seals? Getting up close and personal with the bears? The good news is, you can do it all! There are so many places to visit in Alaska, and we put together the ultimate 8-day itinerary for a once-in-a-lifetime Alaskan adventure during the summer months in Alaska.
Is Alaska on your bucket list? Have you dreamed about spending the summer in Alaska? Maybe you’ve watched enough Travel Channel to have an idea of what you want to do and see while you’re there. Or, maybe you need vacation ideas for a trip to Alaska! The state’s natural beauty can be enjoyed while hiking, paddling, and fishing in the great outdoors, especially as the national parks here are some of the largest in the United States. And, there are many things to do in Alaska during the summer, including wildlife viewing, fishing, and hiking.
Why Visit Alaska in the Summer?
A big question that a lot of travelers ask for planning Alaska vacations is, when is it summer in Alaska? Summer in Alaska occurs from May until September. The beginning of summer first begins to appear in the Inside Passage and works its way up to Northern Alaska. Just remember, from late May until early July, there are approximately 20 hours of daylight in Alaska! That means there is plenty of time to pack in all of the things you want to do in Alaska during the summer on each day of your trip! The summer weather in Alaska is enjoyable, too — daytime highs range from 60°F – 80°F, while nighttime lows are refreshingly cool, dipping into the 40s-50s. This means trails are clear of snow, and conditions are good for any of the outdoor activities you want to experience in Alaska during the summer. These wildlands of The Last Frontier are what attract nature lovers and tourists from across the world. Read on to learn more about what to do in Alaska during the summer!
Summer in Alaska means long days, cool temperatures, and numerous outdoor activities that you really can’t experience elsewhere! And, while the sun may be out in the summer in Alaska, the oppressive heat that you may experience in some states in the Upper 48 is rare! If you visit Alaska in the summer, from mid-May through mid-September, you’ll get to experience all Alaska has to offer during the summer months. Of course, there are the bears (and all the other amazing Alaskan wildlife), the whales and seals and salmon to see, and the glaciers to visit. Let’s get going – there are so many places to visit in Alaska this summer!
Is July The Best Month To Visit Alaska?
For many people, the answer to the question “When is the best time to go to Alaska?” is July. Why? An Alaska vacation is best during this time because there are so many things to do in Alaska in July! What to do in Alaska on vacation? With wildlife fully active, all trails accessible, long days, and Alaska’s warmest average temperatures, July can be the best month to visit Alaska. This translates into a busy time for The Great Land, with a swell of visitors. Alaska in July is one of the best months during the summer to visit. The days in July are long and provide plenty of daylight! With longer and warmer days, wildlife is fully active and Alaska in July is considered one of the best months for bears, sea otters, seals, and whale sightings.
In July, temperatures range on average between fifty and sixty degrees with mostly cool afternoons and evenings and chilly mornings and mid-day hours. The late nights and early mornings can be very cold, but if you pack wisely, that won’t deter you from making the most of your Alaska vacation. Look to nature to restore and inspire you, reconnect with yourself and connect with others on an Alaska vacation. There are the northern lights to witness, exploring the Kenai Peninsula, and view grizzly bears catch salmon.
No matter what month you choose to visit Alaska, though, putting it all together into one amazing summer trip to Alaska can be a little daunting. Even if you have plenty of Alaska vacation ideas, there are so many places to visit in Alaska. With that in mind, we’ve created the ultimate 8-day Alaska itinerary of things to do during the summer in Alaska—we promise, you won’t miss a thing!
Summer in Alaska
You might be wondering which months are counted as summer in Alaska. The answer is simple – May through September! Summer in Alaska first appears in the Inside Passage region, which is home to Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell, and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. The season then moves its way north, bringing with it lengthening daylight hours for the rest of the state. May is generally the driest month in Alaska, even in the temperate rainforest of the Tongass National Forest. By July, the summer temperatures in Alaska can average 70 degrees, although it has been known to reach well into the 90s in the Southern regions. Temperatures along with the coastal areas and higher elevations rarely get above 65 degrees, though. The summer heat starts waning in August and September, which triggers a display of fall colors across Alaska’s tundra and forest landscapes.
What do you need to know when planning trips to Alaska in August?
Many travelers wonder if it is a good time to plan trips to Alaska in August. This is actually a great time of the summer to visit! It is still summer in August and is still one of the warmer months out of the year to visit. What is great about this time of summer is most of the main attractions Alaska has to offer are still open and the crowd is a lot quieter, creating more time to really take in what this great state has to offer. Where you are plays a part as well, Anchorage is an excellent place to visit during the month of August since it is a warmer area compared to Fairbanks, which is located in the middle of the state. When planning trips to Alaska in August be prepared for all kinds of weather.
One of the most popular places to visit for an Alaska vacation is the Denali National Park. This park is the third largest National Park in North America and includes North America’s highest mountain in
the northern part of the Alaska Range. The six million acres are breathtaking and include wide river valleys, tundra, towering alpine ranges, and glacier-cloaked mountains, great destinations for Alaska vacation ideas.
To truly experience Alaska’s remarkable landscapes, slow travel is the best way to go while planning your Alaska trips. Taking in the breathtaking view of the Denali National Park and observing wildlife is at its peak during the summer months, a top Alaska vacation idea that will not disappoint. You can expect to come across moose, bears, wolves, and even caribou traveling with their young. In Juneau, you are only able to reach this capital by boat or plane. Access to Glacier Bay National Park, whale watching tours, and scenic hiking trails make this destination part of an excellent summer Alaska trip.
What To Do In Alaska On Day 1: Go moose-spotting on Alaska’s Coastal Trail in Anchorage.
Most Alaska tours begin and end in Anchorage, and it’s a great city to visit. But just because you’re in the city doesn’t mean you’re far away from native wildlife. Moose-spotting while on the Coastal Trail is a great place to start for some Alaska vacation ideas.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail begins in downtown Alaska and winds along for 11 miles to Kincaid Park. Take a walk—or rent a bike and cycle—and you’re bound to spot a moose along the way. You can even watch for whales and bald eagles at viewing spots along the trail. The summer is a perfect time to take an Alaska vacation.
Spend the night at a hotel downtown Anchorage for easy access to the trail—it’s never more than a few blocks away.
What To Do In Alaska On Day 2: Hike the dramatic Eagle River Valley and see the spawning salmon.
The Eagle River Valley is less than an hour from downtown Anchorage if you are looking for things to do in Alaska, but it might as well be another world. Besides dramatic waterfalls and towering cliffs, the valley is a refuge for wildlife—moose, beavers, owls, eagles, and of course, the salmon. During the summer months in Alaska, the wildlife is particularly active, too, making this one of the best places to visit in Alaska!
You can visit the salmon-viewing deck near Beaver Pond and watch the salmon jump over the dam to continue their journey to spawn. It’s an experience you’ll never forget if you visit Alaska in the summer or plan your Alaska Trip in June when the salmon are running.
When you’re done for the day, head back to Anchorage and enjoy craft beer from a local brewery. Would it surprise you to know that Alaska has an active brewery culture? It ranks 3rd in the U.S. for the amount of beer brewed per capita—a whopping 12.5 gallons!
What to Do In Alaska On Day 3: On to Seward and Resurrection Bay to kayak with seals and otters.
Seward is the gateway to the incredible Kenai Peninsula and the wildlife-packed Resurrection Bay. The bay’s ecosystem is the perfect home for sea otters and harbor seals—you’re bound to come face-to-face with a few as you paddle your kayak during summer in Alaska. As things to do in Alaska, experiencing first-hand the beauty of Seward is top of the list! Along with spotting sea otters and harbor seals, you can catch the live action of bald eagles and salmon leaping while kayaking. Don’t be surprised to see humpback whales and killer whales breaching the surface, or a Steller sea lion or two sunning on the rocks.
What to Do In Alaska On Day 4: Whales, sea lions, and glaciers—oh my!
Kenai Fjords National Park is everything you imagine Alaska to be—all in a single place. Take a boat tour deep into the park and its incredible glaciers (40 of them, to be exact, and each more incredible than the last). You’ll see birds and marine wildlife, especially pods of whales, and majestic eagles soaring overhead.
You’re bound to work up a brisk appetite after your day of exploration, so why not enjoy Alaskan halibut, salmon, or prime rib? You know you’ve been looking forward to fresh Alaskan salmon, so tonight’s your chance to eat your fill of this delicacy that is available during the summer months in Alaska.
What To Do In Alaska Day 5: Walk part of the Harding Icefield trail to get up close and personal with Exit Glacier.
If you thought seeing glaciers in the distance from your deck on a boat was a mind-blowing experience, wait until you trek the Harding Icefield trail to actually touch a glacier! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to cross off your bucket list today and is one of the most amazing things to do in Alaska in the summer.
You don’t even need to be a hiking rock star to walk the lower “Edge of the Glacier” trail. It’s an easy walk that gets you close enough to hear the glacier crackling and get some amazing photos with the gorgeous blue glacier behind you. Exit isn’t the largest glacier in Alaska, but trust us, it’s still massive.
What To Do In Alaska Day 6: The float plane ride to see the brown coastal bears will blow your mind.
We get it—you’ve been dying to see the bears. Today’s your lucky day! Bears are active during the summer months in Alaska after they’ve emerged from their winter hibernation. After an incredible float plane ride to Katmailand, you may arrive at the world-famous Brooks Lodge, where you’ll see your first bears within minutes of your arrival. People come from all over the world to get close-up looks at Katmai brown bears gorging themselves on salmon during the salmon months, which occur during the summer in Alaska.
Brooks Falls is one of the first places the bears come in contact with spawning salmon making their way in from deeper waters where the bears don’t hunt. That’s why it’s so popular with the hungry bears, and they gather here in numbers you won’t often see elsewhere in Alaska. There’s nothing like watching a bear stand and wait for a salmon to jump close enough to grab it in its jaws, or snorkeling about looking for fish underwater during the summer months in Alaska. These are just some of the things to do in Alaska. For more activities, read on!
What To Do In Alaska Day 7: Okay, let’s board another flight to see more bears.
Board another plane from Homer and land on a remote airstrip deep inside Lake Clark National Park. Follow the expert guide and we’re all safe, observing bears perhaps foraging sedge grass on a grassy meadow, framed by towering mountains. The cubs might take a break from eating to wrestle one another.
What To Do In Alaska Day 8: Say goodbye to the bears before boarding your flight back to Anchorage.
After a week in Alaska, you may or may not be ready to head back home. Now that you know what you can do in Alaska during the summer, you will be ready for your next visit to the Last Frontier to see all that the great state has to offer during the summer months. Now that you have one trip under your belt, you’ll have plenty of vacation ideas for your next trip to Alaska – there’s a lot to do in Alaska in the summer!
Things to do in Alaska! Ready to visit the Last Frontier?
Do the wildlife and nature capture your interest? Visiting Alaska and having the opportunity to spot and view all the fascinating creatures in this area has come with Alaska vacations! The regions of this great state provide different adventures that will satisfy any enthusiast. An Alaska vacation gives an opportunity to experience the special cultures of different Alaskan regions. Experience things you have never experienced before and witness the phenomenon of the surreal Aurora Borealis lights whirl around in the dark Alaskan night skies.
The challenge about planning Alaska vacation ideas is narrowing down the options you have! Alaska has become a bucket-list destination and most do vacation to Alaska during the summer months, but there are great and once-in-a-lifetime Alaska vacation ideas for the winter months. There is the exciting possibility to witness the Northern Lights, fewer crowds, and the thrill of seasonal events such as the Iditarod sled dog race!
There’s nothing like Alaska’s unique culture and wildlife, especially during the summer in Alaska—it’s something you just have to experience for yourself. There are so many things to do in Alaska in the summer, and there are so many places to visit in Alaska! Our Alaska trips run through June, and into the later summer months. There are so many things to do in Alaska in July and throughout the rest of the summer, so if the Last Frontier is calling your name, get in touch and let’s put some plans in motion for your summer trip to Alaska. Our summer tours usually sell out, so plan early if you want to see the bears and all the other incredible wildlife!