Best time to visit Alaska

Best time to visit Alaska


May is great for wildflowers and mosquito free. Mid June until end July is notorious for mosquitoes, so take precautions, particularly at dawn and dusk. By August the night frost starts to kill them off. If you want to see bears banqueting the time to go is autumn, when they come out to feast upon migratory salmon. And you will also see more moose at this time of year, as rutting season begins. Winter is another world in Alaska, however, with wilderness lodges still open for business.
"Summer Solstice in Anchorage is one big festival as it never gets dark. You can also head into more remote Alaska, such as in the town of Hope. It has music every weekend during the long summer days, people dancing in their rubber boots, and a wonderful local atmosphere."

- Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures

Things to do in Alaska


Things to do in Alaska

Imagine flying into Katmai National Park on a floatplane and a curious grizzly swims out into the bay to meet you. Or sailing around the fjords and a humpback whale creates some extra waves by projecting into the icy air? Or you are so taken by the magnificent sight of salmon heading upstream on one of natureís most miraculous migrations, that you forget the fate that awaits many of them, as they find their fate in the claws of awaiting Kodiak bears? Welcome to Alaska. Itís wild out there.
The majority of people living in Alaska are indigenous peoples, or Alaska Natives. With strong traditions of subsistence living, activity, cultural and nature led tourism are now becoming a growing part of community life. Especially in wilderness areas, where the majority of the residents are Alaskan Native.
Camp or cabin is the way to stay in Alaska. Forget your 4* multinational. This is a place to bed down under the stars, float to sleep as you sail down a fjord, or tuck up in a mountain cabin, waking up to crisp air and blue skies, and the sound of eagles soaring overhead.

Things not to do in Alaska

Taking an ocean liner into this territory is cruising for a bruising. Apart from the well documented environmental footprint, the lack of tourist money being made available to sustain local communities and also their downright blot on the landscape, the hotels on ice do not make room for small community led businesses to become involved in tourism. Something that is crucial in Alaska for its very survival.
Donít eat whale meat. The killing of whales for meat is still legal in Alaska, carried out by nine different indigenous Alaskan communities, in keeping with cultural traditions. Although we understand the cultural significance, we do not support the eating of whale meat by tourists. It is a complex and sensitive issue, and not something to judge without reading up on the background. Just go whale watching instead and show that whales are worth more alive than dead.
Donít sit on your backside. Get fit before you go and get the most out of this stupendous state. Hike the mountains, kayak the fjords or cycle along the curvaceous coves of Kachemak Bay. Alaska is far out there, so just get out there.

Alaska travel advice


Weather tips

Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our supplier Infinite Adventures, specialising in Alaska: "Donít be put off Alaska because you think it will be too cold. Europeans often think that they wonít get sunshine in Alaska, but in fact there are almost 24 hours of sunlight. OK, itís not 30°C, but this summer we had so many days with 25°C, lots of sunshine, and then you arrive at the campsite and at 9pm you sit at the campfire with the sun shining in your face. It might only be 18 degrees by then, but because the sun is shining, it always feels warmer. I love that feeling. So, donít always associate Alaska with snow and ice."

Advice on what to pack

Iain Shiels, from our supplier, Grand American Adventures: "Be prepared Ė Take clothing for every eventuality. On a recent trip in Alaska I had 14 days of pure sunshine but Alaskan weather can be volatile. You can always remove layers if you get hot but itís important to keep warm. Plus if it rains and you have wet weather gear, it wonít stop you from hitting the trails. And take a spare camera battery and memory stick Ė Around every turn is a picture postcard view. Donít be caught out with a full memory card and that unmissable photo."

Counting costs

Iain Shiels, from our leading Alaska vacations supplier, Grand American Adventures gives great Alaska travel advice: ďDue to the short tourist season, take plenty of money as activities in Alaska can be expensive, but the experiences are big and worth every penny. It may seem a lot to fork out US$250 for a kayaking trip however, the chance to navigate a kayak to the foot of Columbia Glacier, surrounded by floating icebergs with the sun on your back is a real Alaskan experience.Ē

Alaska travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Alaska travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation.

"Pack layers but don't overpack as you will get a chance to do some laundry. Bring books and music for the van journeys and keep a journal so that you won't forget all the amazing places you'll visit. My highlights were kayaking amongst icebergs, ice climbing in the glacier, seeing all kinds of wildlife, trying the local beer in some amazing saloons and camping with the most amazing views of the mountains and glaciers to wake up to" - Maria Sarda on our Alaska camping vacation

"Take plenty of layers and wet weather clothing (activities take place regardless of weather so you need the right stuff for hiking & kayaking, as well as watching the scenery and wildlife from the boat. Don't worry about "evening clothes" - most people only changed in the evenings if their day clothes got wet, and then jeans are fine. A great experience if you want a cruise on a small boat which can go places larger ones cannot, with an excellent crew, several of whom had in-depth knowledge of the geology, wildlife, biology etc of the area." Ė Lavinia Martins on our Alaska adventure cruise

"I would just say don't hesitate! This is a company that is 200% reliable and the trip is so fun to do! Even is you're not an experienced camper, it doesn't matter, the guides will show you how it works! Just make sure you bring enough layers and a sleeping bag that is warm enough if you get cold quite easily. While it's 100% not a problem to camp in summer in Alaska, you need to be prepared as well as possible, as it can get chilly at night." - Bettina Bernhardt on our Alaska salmon run vacation
Photo credits: [Temp chart background - bear family: Max Goldberg] [Weather tips: Education Specialist] [Counting costs: Madeleine Deaton] [Review 1 - Mary Ellen Ruddell: Matt Zimmerman] [Review 2 - Mary Jane: Paxson Woelber]
Written by Catherine Mack
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