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When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska For Wildlife?
Alaska in October is an in-between time. Summer adventures are over, but the winter fun is still a few months away. The days start getting shorter, the weather becomes cold and rainy, the salmon runs are done for the year, and bears are preparing for their winter denning. If you are lucky enough to book Alaska tours in October, however, you will see a display of fall colors unlike anywhere else in the Lower 48! And, believe it or not, you will have the chance to see Alaska’s native wildlife even as the winter snow approaches.
The Best Wildlife Viewing In Alaska Happens In The Off Season!
Once the month of October rolls around, many tourists abandon Alaska. The upcoming cold season is a turn-off to many, but if you are curious about Alaska and the best time of year to visit, October just might be the answer you are looking for. October is known as the shoulder season, meaning the peak tourist season is finished. Many hotels and tours feature discounted rates during the shoulder season, making a fall trip a budget-friendly option, too!
So why exactly are we saying that the best time to visit Alaska for wildlife is October? Because in October you can see so many different varieties of marine wildlife, wild birds, and land mammals! Keep reading for more tips and trips to make your trip a memorable one.
The Top Five Cities For Wildlife Viewing In Alaska
If you’re heading to one of these famous tourist destinations, wildlife viewing is definitely in the cards for you:
- Juneau – Alaska’s state capital is a great place for wildlife viewing. From the center of the town, you can see bald eagles, great blue herons, and ravens. Or, you can hike the steep cliffs behind the town to search for mountain goats. If you are lucky, you may even see humpback or killer whales swim right past the town. But if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of town, you have plenty of options. Auke Bay, Eagle Beach State Park, Pack Creek, Tracy Arm, and the Mendenhall Wetlands all are an easy trip from town and great wildlife viewing locations.
- Seward – although many tour operators shut down in the fall, many marine tours are available from Seward’s port in October. Some even offer small-group custom charters year-round! One of the most popular tours you can book takes you through the waters of Resurrection Bay to see massive bird rookeries and sea lion colonies. Along the way, you’ll be able to spot Humpback whales, Orcas, harbor seals, bald eagles, puffins, and other marine birds, too.
- Anchorage – if you’re planning a trip to Anchorage, don’t skip the Alaska Zoo! The zoo is home to more than 100 animals and spans 25 acres of Anchorage hillside. If you want to see a wide variety of animals that are native to the state of Alaska in one visit, the Alaska Zoo might be a good place to take Alaska tours in October. You can also find interactive programs for young children and other fun events for the whole family.
- Portage – visit the 200–acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on the Turnagain Arm to see a dizzying array of animals up close. The AWCC’s mission is to preserve Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, research, education, and quality animal care. It’s a great place to learn more about Alaska’s wildlife from experts.
- Fairbanks – a trip to the frozen north means walking with reindeer! If you are traveling to Fairbanks, plan a visit to Running Reindeer Ranch where you can take a tour of the facilities and pet the reindeer. Photos are permitted, and you may even see some young reindeer calves on your adventure.
Alaska Tours In October For Wildlife Viewing
Even though the weather may be colder than peak tourist season, the best time to visit Alaska for wildlife is October. The huge crowds of tourists are gone, and you will have the opportunity to see native species without other adventure seekers getting in your way. In addition, the autumn wildlife viewing is spectacular! Moose, goats, caribou, and muskoxen are mating, and bears can still be spotted foraging for food before their winter hibernation. Geese, cranes, shorebirds, and raptors migrate throughout the region in large numbers. Gray, bowhead, and beluga whales migrate along the state's west coast. Ivory gulls appear near Point Barrow. Ptarmigan congregate in the state’s subalpine areas. Hares, arctic foxes, and lemmings turn white. And massive caribou herds migrate to their winter ranges! So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags for Alaska – the best time of year to visit is fall!