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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska In Summer?
Visiting Alaska during the summer months is special. An Alaska summer offers long days full of sunshine, wildlife viewing, outdoor activities, and endless adventure. If you’re wondering when summer in Alaska falls, it’s between May 10 and September 15!
A vacation in Alaska in summer means temperatures in the 60s to low 70s, 16–24 hours of daylight, endless fields of flowers in bloom, rushing rivers, and the best wildlife viewing in the states! Some other key dates to remember when planning your trip are listed below:
- Alaska’s peak tourist season runs from June to August. By mid-June, summer activities are in full swing and all national park services and amenities are open for visitors!
- Cruise season starts in May and runs through September. Cruise tours are very popular with visitors, but land-and-cruise tours are even more popular! Book early and often to make sure you reserve your spot on the ship of your choice.
- Shoulder season in May and September can offer visitors the same experiences and amenities the summer months offer; however, the off-season also brings 10-25 percent discounts at many hotels and for a variety of land tours and cruises.
Summer in Alaska is a long season, full of different activities for all! So we like to tell first-timers that the best time to visit Alaska in summer is between June 15 and July 15. This is the absolute height of summer and peak travel season for tourists. But it’s also the most exciting time to plan your vacation in Alaska in the summer.
What To Expect In Alaska In The Summer
Alaska is a big state with several distinct regions; however, there are some similarities across the board to expect when visiting in the summer.
- Expect daytime temperature highs to fall between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime lows, however, can dip into the 50s and even the 40s! (So pack accordingly and plan to dress in layers). If you are visiting during the shoulder season months of May or September, expect these temperature averages to be 5-10 degrees cooler. Early summer tends to be dry, but as summer progresses the rain chances increase – so remember to pack waterproof outer layers!
- The summer solstice falls on June 21 and is the longest day of the year. This brings 19 hours of daylight to Anchorage, 18 to the Southeast region of the state, and 22 hours to Fairbanks. Alaska is light outside almost all night long from late May until early June. But don’t worry – long days mean you can pack in a lot of activities under the Midnight Sun.
- If there’s one thing Alaska is known for, it’s wildlife. The summer season is the best time to see wildlife in the state! From fly-in bear-watching to whale-watching cruises to moose sightings, summer in Alaska is the best time to see native animals in their natural habitats.
Finding The Best Places to Visit in Alaska During The Summer
With so much to do and see in Alaska, how do you begin to plan your vacation in Alaska in the summer? To make the planning process go smoothly, focus on the types of things you want to do or see in Alaska and then decide where you would like to visit to pursue those activities. We’ve listed five of our favorite summer activities below, with suggestions on where in Alaska to pursue them!
- Fishing - Whether it’s lake fishing, casting on a rushing river, or trolling in the ocean, fishing is one of the most popular summer activities in Alaska. Rainbow trout, varieties of salmon, halibut, and rockfish are just a few of the fish you may come across during the summer fishing season in Alaska. Pro tip – if you want to wrestle with a trophy fish out on the open ocean, head to Homer. The waters surrounding this city are full of salmon, rockfish, Dolly Vardens, and halibut. However, if salmon is more to your taste, head over to Bristol Bay! Bristol Bay has some of the biggest salmon in the world, as well as almost every species of salmon swimming in its waters. From Chinook to red sockeye to chum and silver Coho salmon – Bristol Bay is the best place in the state to catch this delicacy.
- Visiting Alaska’s National Parks – the best time to visit Alaska in the summer also happens to be the best time to visit the state’s national parks. There are eight national parks in Alaska, including Denali National Park and Preserve, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, Kobuk Valley National Park, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Some parks are accessible via the state’s road system, while others are more remote and require you to fly in for a remote adventure!
- Whale Watching - you can see a variety of whales all summer long in the waters of Alaska. Orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales make their summer home in Alaska’s waters, and can best be viewed on a glacier and wildlife cruise. You can also see belugas in the waters of the Turnagain Arm along the Seward Highway. Some of the best whale watching takes place in Seward, Alaska!
- Bear Viewing – no vacation in Alaska in the summer is complete without a bear-viewing expedition! Fortunately, bears can be found throughout the state. One of the most popular locations for bear viewing, however, is Katmai National Park and Preserve. Visitors can fly in for the day, or book a multi-day adventure at Brooks Lodge. From there, they can watch bears fish for salmon in the Brooks River and at Brooks Falls during the summer salmon runs. Other popular bear-viewing locations include Lake Clark National Park and Admiralty Island, where guests can visit the famed Fortress of the Bears!
- Search for gold – the gold rush may be over, but you can still explore the gold mines that were a part of the Alaskan gold rush. Mining is still popular around Alaska, but there are also many mines that have long been out of commission and are now open to tourists to explore. Some of the more heavily visited mines are Kennicott Copper Mne near McCarthy and Gold Dredge 8 just outside of Fairbanks.
When it comes to planning your vacation in Alaska during the summer months, you can’t go wrong! The best places to visit in Alaska during the summer will be up and running all season long, and ready to welcome you with open arms. Start planning today for a trip that will be a one-of-a-kind adventure!