[UPDATE] Best Time To Visit Alaska and See Northern Lights

by Aniloka

The best time to visit Alaska depends on your interests and what you want to do. The peak tourist season is from mid-June to mid-August when the weather is warmest, but it’s also the busiest and most expensive time. To avoid crowds and enjoy outdoor activities, visit during the shoulder seasons of May to mid-June and mid-August to September, and for Northern Lights, visit during winter from late September to early April, but be prepared for freezing weather.

Birch Lake, Alaska | Photo by Alain Bonnardeaux on Unsplash

1. Best time to visit Alaska

A. Peak Season

The best time to visit Alaska depends on your interests and what you want to do. Generally, the peak tourist season in Alaska is from mid-June to mid-August, when the weather is warmest and the days are the longest. Unfortunately, this is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit.

B. Shoulder Season

If you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy great outdoor activities, the best time to visit Alaska is during the shoulder seasons. Shoulder season in Alaska runs from May to mid-June and mid-August to September. During this time, you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. You can still enjoy mild weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices during these times.

C. Winter for Northern Lights

If you’re interested in seeing the Northern Lights, winter is the best time to visit Alaska. Winter in Alaska runs from late September to early April. However, remember that the weather can be freezing and snowy during this time, so be sure to pack warm clothing and gear.

2. Best time to visit Alaska by Season

Alaska | Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

Alaska is a vast state with varying climates and landscapes, so the best time to visit depends on the region and the activities you have in mind. Here’s a general guide to the best time to visit Alaska by season:

A. Spring (March-May)

Spring is considered the off-season in Alaska, and many tourist facilities are closed. However, it can still be an excellent time to visit for those looking to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices. In March and April, visitors can see the northern lights, and wildlife, such as bears and moose, start to come out of hibernation.

B. Summer (June – August)

Summer is the peak tourist season in Alaska, and it’s the best time to visit for those looking to explore the state’s outdoor attractions. During this time, visitors can enjoy long daylight hours, mild temperatures, and various activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and whale watching. It’s also the best time to see wildlife, including bears, whales, and eagles.

C. Fall (September – November)

Fall is a quieter season in Alaska, and many tourist facilities start to close down. However, it’s still a good time to visit for those looking to enjoy the fall colors, see the northern lights, and avoid crowds. It’s also the best time for fishing and hunting.

D. Winter (December – February)

Winter is a magical time in Alaska, with snow-covered landscapes and the chance to see the northern lights. It’s also the best time for winter sports such as skiing and snowmobiling. However, winter can be freezing, and many roads and tourist facilities may be closed. Therefore, coming prepared with warm clothing and appropriate gear is essential.


3. What to do in Alaska?

Alaska is a destination that offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some popular things to do in Alaska:

A. Explore the outdoors

Alaska has breathtaking natural beauty, and there are many ways to explore it. Some popular outdoor activities include hiking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the outdoors in Alaska is through hiking. The state has many scenic trails, from easy strolls to challenging mountain treks.

Fishing is also popular in Alaska, and the state is known for its salmon and halibut fishing. You can fish from the shore, hire a guide to take you on a fishing excursion, or even take a fishing charter.

Another way to explore Alaska’s natural beauty is by kayaking or canoeing. You can rent equipment and explore the many rivers, lakes, and coastal areas at your own pace. You may even have the opportunity to see wildlife, such as sea otters, seals, and whales, up close.

Alaska has many unique and fascinating wildlife species, including bears, moose, eagles, and wolves. There are many ways to view these animals in their natural habitat, from guided tours to independent exploration.

No matter what outdoor activity you choose, Alaska offers endless opportunities to explore and appreciate its stunning natural beauty.

Young polar bears, northern Alaska | Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

B. Take a scenic drive

Alaska is home to numerous scenic routes that offer stunning views of its natural beauty, including majestic mountains, impressive glaciers, and fascinating wildlife. The most famous of these routes is the Seward Highway, which stretches 135 miles from Anchorage to Seward.

The Seward Highway takes travelers through Alaska’s most scenic areas, including the Kenai Peninsula, Turnagain Arm, and Chugach National Forest. The views from the highway are breathtaking, with snow-capped mountains rising above pristine lakes and rivers. Visitors can also spot wildlife such as bald eagles, moose, and bears along the way.

Aside from the Seward Highway, many other scenic routes in Alaska are worth exploring, such as the Dalton Highway, the Glenn Highway, and the Denali Highway. These routes offer unique views of Alaska’s diverse landscapes, from rolling hills to towering peaks.

Driving along Alaska’s scenic routes is a great way to experience the state’s natural beauty and capture unforgettable memories.

Scenic Drive in Alaska | Photo by Joris Beugels on Unsplash

C. Visit national parks

Alaska is home to several awe-inspiring national parks that are worth exploring. One of the most famous is Denali National Park, home to North America’s highest peak, Denali. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, including bears, moose, and caribou.

Another must-visit park in Alaska is Kenai Fjords National Park, which features stunning glaciers and fjords. Visitors can take boat tours to see the glaciers up close or go on a kayaking adventure to explore the park’s pristine waters.

Glacier Bay National Park is another popular destination, with stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife. Visitors can enjoy hiking, kayaking, and boat tours to explore the park’s diverse terrain and spot marine life, such as whales and sea lions.

Aside from these national parks, Alaska has many other protected areas that offer opportunities to experience its natural beauty, such as Tongass National Forest and Chugach State Park. These parks offer various activities, including fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing.

Exploring Alaska’s national parks and protected areas is a fantastic way to appreciate its natural beauty and get close to its diverse wildlife.

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska | Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash

D. Experience the culture

Alaska boasts a rich Native American heritage and culture, which visitors can explore through various venues such as museums, art galleries, and cultural events. These places offer insights into Alaska’s indigenous people’s traditions, beliefs, and history.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is a great place to start. This cultural center showcases the various tribes’ art, language, and customs through exhibits, dance performances, and interactive activities. Visitors can participate in traditional games, learn how to weave baskets, and listen to storytellers who share their people’s history and legends.

Besides the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visitors can also explore other museums and cultural centers throughout the state, such as the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau and the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel. These places offer unique opportunities to learn about the Native American culture and history of Alaska.

Delving into Alaska’s Native American history and culture is an enriching experience that visitors should not miss. It provides a deeper understanding of the state’s diverse people and way of life.

E. Take a cruise

Alaska’s stunning coastline is home to charming towns and breathtaking glaciers, making it a prime location for cruises. Whether you prefer luxurious liners or small ships specializing in adventure and wildlife viewing, there are various cruise options available to suit every traveler’s needs.

One popular option is the Inside Passage cruise, which takes you through Alaska’s picturesque southeast coast, past towering glaciers and verdant rainforests. Along the way, you can explore charming towns like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway and witness wildlife such as whales, seals, and bald eagles.

For those looking for a more adventurous experience, smaller ships specialize in exploring Alaska’s remote and rugged areas. These expeditions take you to places larger ships cannot reach, such as Glacier Bay National Park and the Aleutian Islands. In addition, you can kayak among icebergs, hike through pristine wilderness, and observe wildlife up close.

Additionally, some cruises offer theme-based itineraries such as photography, bird-watching, or culinary tours, catering to different interests.

Overall, cruising along Alaska’s coastline offers a unique perspective of the state’s natural beauty and wildlife, with an array of options to suit every traveler’s preferences.

Glacier Bay, Alaska | Photo by Peter Hansen on Unsplash

F. See the Northern Lights

Alaska is ideal for witnessing the mesmerizing natural phenomenon known as the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. The vibrant and colorful lights dance across the sky in stunning, awe-inspiring displays.

The best time to view the Northern Lights in Alaska is during the winter months, from September to April. This is when the nights are longer and darker, providing optimal conditions for the lights to be visible. However, it is important to note that the Northern Lights are natural, and their visibility can never be guaranteed.

There are various ways to experience the Northern Lights in Alaska. You can stay in cozy cabins in remote locations, away from city lights, for an immersive and peaceful experience. Alternatively, you can take guided tours that provide transportation and offer insights into the science and history of the Aurora Borealis. Some tours also include outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and dog sledding, adding an element of adventure to the experience.

Overall, witnessing the Northern Lights in Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave a lasting impression. With the right timing and preparation, you can see this natural wonder in all its glory.


4. Best time to visit Alaska to see the northern lights

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is during the winter months, from late September to early April. This is because the nights are longer and darker during this time, providing the perfect conditions for viewing the aurora borealis. 

Additionally, during this time, the weather is typically colder and clearer, which means there are fewer clouds and less atmospheric interference to block the view of the Northern Lights. 

However, it’s important to remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and aurora activity levels before planning a trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the winter forest Coldfoot, Alaska | Photo by Jan Kronies on Unsplash

5. The cheapest time to visit Alaska

The cheapest time to visit Alaska is generally during the shoulder seasons, which are the periods just before and after the peak tourist season.

The peak tourist season in Alaska is typically from mid-June to mid-August, when the weather is warmest, and many visitors come to enjoy outdoor activities and witness the Midnight Sun. During this time, prices for accommodations, tours, and activities are at their highest.

In contrast, the shoulder seasons, from May to mid-June and mid-August to September, offer lower prices and fewer crowds. While the weather may be slightly cooler and some activities may be unavailable, visitors can still enjoy many of Alaska’s attractions, such as the Northern Lights, wildlife viewing, and hiking.

It’s also worth noting that some businesses and attractions in Alaska may offer discounts or promotions during the shoulder seasons to encourage visitors to come during quieter periods.

6. Best time to visit Alaska cruise

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

The best time to take an Alaska cruise depends mainly on what you want to see and do during your trip.

The peak season for Alaska cruises is from May to September, with most cruise ships operating during this time. During this period, the weather is generally milder. As a result, visitors can enjoy long daylight hours and various activities like whale watching, glacier viewing, and hiking.

However, the busiest and most expensive time for Alaska cruises is typically from mid-June to mid-August, when the weather is the warmest and when many tourists visit the state. If you prefer a quieter and less crowded experience, consider booking your Alaska cruise during the shoulder season, from May to mid-June or mid-August to September. During these times, the weather can still be pleasant, and you may even have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

It’s also worth noting that some Alaska cruise itineraries may be more popular than others, and pricing can vary depending on the time of year and the specific cruise line. Be sure to research your options and consider booking well in advance to get the best deal on your Alaska cruise.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: