The best places to visit Alaska in the summer

The Best of Alaska in the Summer

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 state and 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?

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? Because there are so many things to do in Alaska in July! 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.

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.

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 Alasaka, 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 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.

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.

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 do this in Alaska.

Spend the night in the Copper Whale Inn for easy access to the trail—it’s just a block away. And the views of Cook Inlet from this charming B&B are amazing; be sure to have your camera ready!

Moose are often spotted throughout Alaska in summer.

 

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, 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!

An Alaska Grizzly bear catching salmon in Brooks Falls during the summer months

 

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. 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.

Kayaking is amazing in Alaska

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 a 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.

Sea Lions 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.

From there, check into the gorgeous Alyeska Resort and enjoy a feast at the renowned Seven Glaciers Restaurant. Take a swim in the saltwater pool or treat yourself to a massage at the hotel spa to prepare you for your next day’s adventures.

Get up close to Alaska's glaciers during our Alaska summer tour

 

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!

Grizzly cub

 

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.

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!

Ready to visit the Last Frontier?

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!