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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Planning Your Alaskan Adventure
When is the best time to visit Alaska? That’s one of the hardest questions for a tour guide to answer because the question is complicated and depends on so many factors. For example, what area of the state do you want to explore? What types of activities do you want to participate in? And, what type of wildlife do you want to see? Alaska is huge and the weather is very different in the north, south, interior, and coastal regions. Combine the uncertain weather with the fact that the Alaska travel season is short and it can be a challenge to figure out the best times to visit Alaska.
Alaska is open for travel year-round, but the primary tourist season begins in June and ends in August. If you want to see wildlife on your trip, this is probably a good time to plan a visit. But if you want to book an aurora Alaska tour, you’re going to have to consult with expert aurora hunters to plan a trip that can guarantee a Northern Lights sighting. Of course, if a dogsledding trip is on your bucket list, you’re going to have to wait until the snow flies to visit the Last Frontier!
Taking An Aurora Alaska Tour
If you want to see the Northern Lights, you’ll have to plan your Alaskan adventure around the best times to visit Alaska to see the magical auroras. The Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are dancing waves of neon color and light that pulsate through the skies, putting on a surreal show for spectators down below. The auroras occur in all four seasons of the year, although they are harder to see under the midnight sun. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is between August and April when fewer daylight hours yield to darker night skies.
However, the Northern Lights tend to intensify around the equinox months of September and March. This is because the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun allows the magnetic field of Earth and the solar winds from the sun to sync up. This perfect storm of solar activity and the Earth’s position causes everything from a faint green cloud on the horizon to the magnificent, multi-hued lights that dance across the sky. For that reason, aurora hunters will tell you that the last two weeks of September and the second and third week of March are the best times to visit Alaska for an Aurora Alaska tour.
The Best Time To Visit Alaska To See Native Wildlife
If seeing Alaskan wildlife in its natural habitat is the goal of your Alaskan adventure, you’ll have to decide what wildlife you want to see. Then, you can determine which areas of the state are best for seeing the wildlife you want to see and at what time of year will they be most active. Bears, for example, can be found throughout the state of Alaska, but they are most active during the summer months during the salmon runs at Katmai National Park & Preserve and Lake Clark National Park. That means you would want to plan your trip to the coastal area of the state at the height of summer for the best bear viewing Alaska has to offer!
Keep reading for the scoop on where and when to see other wild creatures in their native Alaskan habitat:
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – April
- The cruise season kicks off in April, with ships traveling the Interior Passage region filled with visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of Alaskan wildlife.
- During this month, the annual migration of herring means that orcas and humpback whales are active.
- As an added bonus, the April nights are still long enough for the adventurous night owls to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights on an Aurora Alaska Tour from the ship.
- April temperatures vary by month throughout the state and can fluctuate between winter chill and early spring temperatures. Pack in layers!
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – May
- Cruises through the Interior Passage are still popular with early-season travelers, as most national parks are still closed.
- This month, which is one of the driest months in Alaska, is the month that many animals emerge from hibernation and begin birthing their young.
- Temperatures begin to moderate along the coast during the month of May but are still winter-like in the Interior Passage and Arctic Circle.
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – June
- June marks the start of the official Alaskan tourist season and the opening of the state’s many national parks.
- The early summer weather is more reliable for activities like flightseeing, floatplane rides, scenic Alaska railroad trips, and the other special modes of transit that are needed to reach remote wilderness lodges.
- The longer daylight hours mean that wildlife is more active. During this month, visitors can expect to see, depending on location: harbor seal pups, ducks, Beluga whales; various seabirds and Alpine birds; caribou, mountain goats, black bears, and moose calves.
- The melting snow allows visitors to take higher altitude hikes and view the wildlife that lives in more mountainous regions.
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – July
- During the month of July, Alaska’s wildlife is fully active, its many trails are accessible, and its temperatures are the warmest they will be all year!
- The must-see wildlife that is active during the month of July includes humpback whales, salmon, sea otters; puffins and shorebirds; black and brown bears, and mountain goats.
- July is also the height of Alaska’s tourist season, so experts recommend booking your trip and lodging as early as you possibly can!
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – August
- The month’s long daylight hours mean wildlife is still active.
- For those who love fishing, the conditions are ideal for halibut, rainbow trout, Northern pike, and salmon fishing during August.
- Although the height of tourist season has passed, cruises and guided land tours are still being offered, allowing visitors a chance to see a mix of animals in their native habitat before they begin their winter hibernation.
- As the month winds down, a shift in the weather signals fall’s arrival. This is the best time to visit Alaska if you want to see the fall foliage, especially in the interior regions of the state.
Alaskan Wildlife Viewing – September
- As summer passes, animals are busy preparing for the oncoming winter. There is a spike in activity, with animals migrating, mating, marking territory, and hunting and foraging for food. This flurry of activity will increase your odds of seeing native wildlife before the snow flies!
- Since the peak tourist season has passed, visitors will be able to find lower-priced accommodations and other travel deals if they want to visit the state during the fall.
- As an added bonus, the longer nights and fall equinox afford visitors a myriad of opportunities to view the aurora borealis in the nighttime sky.
Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska In the Fall Or Winter?
Winters in Alaska can be harsh, although beautiful. The weather throughout most of the state is frigid and storms can be severe. Most people who visit the state during the fall and winter months have planned an Alaska Aurora Tour. One of the most popular attractions during Alaska’s fall and winter months is viewing the Northern Lights. Many towns welcome aurora hunters during this season, and specialty lodges offer comfortable accommodations for adventurous souls that are willing to brave long, cold nights in order to see the auroras dance across the northern skies.
The late fall and winter months in Alaska are not known for cruises or land tours. The weather is too wet and the cold is too much for all but the heartiest traveler that might book a custom tour. The wildlife, too, knows the colder months are coming and have begun their winter hibernation. Winter is not the best time to visit Alaska for wildlife viewing, but it is definitely a good time to try your hand at dogsledding. Many outfitters and tour guides offer dog sledding trips for all adventure levels. Although dogsledding is available year-round (especially at higher elevations), winter is still the most popular time for this Alaskan activity.
No matter what time of year you want to visit Alaska, keep in mind that your trip depends on what you want to see and what you want to do. An Aurora Alaska Tour needs to be scheduled at a different time of year from a wildlife viewing tour, so make sure you know what you want to do before you buy your plane tickets!