The best time to visit Alaska
Autumn starts early in Alaska, with the Northern Lights appearing over the horizon from the end of August.
The best time to visit Alaska is from May until the end of September. May is great for wildflowers and mosquito-free days. Mid-June until the end of July, on the other hand, is notorious for mosquitoes, so take precautions, particularly at dawn and dusk. The night frost starts to kill them off by August. If you want to see bears banqueting, the best time to travel to Alaska is autumn (late August onwards), when they come out to feast upon migratory salmon and berries before settling down to snooze the winter away. You will also see more moose at this time of year as rutting season begins. Whales appear in May and disappear in September, along with the cruise ships that seek them out. Winter (October-March) is for hardy snow lovers only.
When is the best time to go on a cruise in Alaska?May to September is the best time to go on a cruise in Alaska. In fact, many ships only sail during this window, when the thickest ice has cleared and whales have moseyed up from their southern breeding grounds. July and August are the busiest times for cruising, so try early June and late August for a more peaceful experience in popular places like Glacier Bay National Park. You’ll get the best experience for you, local people and the planet if you travel on a small ship. Find out more in our small ship cruising in Alaska guide
A month by month guide on when to go to Alaska
January in Alaska
February in Alaska
March in Alaska
April in Alaska
May in Alaska
June in Alaska
June is great for an Alaska salmon run adventure
Don’t be put off Alaska because you think it’ll be too cold… You can arrive at the campsite at 9pm and sit at the fire with the sun shining on your face in summer.
– Natalie Morawietz, from our partner Infinite Adventures
July in Alaska
August in Alaska
August is great for a Denali National Park vacation
September in Alaska
October in Alaska
November in Alaska
December in Alaska
Our Alaska, USA Vacations
Anchorage Weather Chart
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Best times to visit Alaska for festivals & events
World Ice Art Championships (mid-February to mid-March)The interior of Alaska generates tons of natural ice that Fairbanks celebrates each year at the World Ice Art Championships. This month-long festival of ice sculptures is partly a homage to the winter carnivals of the 1930s and partly a chance to set ice sculptors from all over the world against each other in a series of competitions set in open-air forest galleries. Previous years have starred life-size totem poles, orcas jumping from icy waves and even a glowing Tardis.
Celebration (June)Juneau – the barely-known capital city of Alaska – hosts Celebration over four days in June, during the long, sunny hours leading up to the summer solstice. Southeast Alaska Native peoples gather, including thousands of dancers and musicians celebrating the survival of their culture, which has faced a myriad of perils, from erasure by European colonists to climate change. Events include Indigenous fashion shows, art exhibitions, craft markets and dance groups.
Summer solstice (21 June)“Summer solstice in Anchorage is one big festival, as it never gets dark,” says Natalie Morawietz, co-founder of our Alaska specialist Infinite Adventures. “The town of Hope has music every weekend during the height of the long summer days, people dancing in their rubber boots, and just a wonderful atmosphere.” The hardest part is knowing when to stop dancing.
Independence Day (4 July)This far north, it’s easy to forget that Alaska is the most northerly US state. But there’s no chance of forgetting on Independence Day. Many communities in Alaska – including Fairbanks, Anchorage and Seward – get their red, white and blue glad rags on for this larger-than-life national vacation. Barbecues sizzle, baseball games go on all day, and whole streets shut down for parades filled with marching bands and flag-bedecked floats. Seward bravely starts the fireworks off first at 12.01am.
Alaska State Fair (end of August to early September)The Alaska State Fair is still going strong, first celebrated in 1924 as a last hurrah to summer for the workers of the Alaskan State Railway. It pops up in the last two weeks of August and early September in Palmer, an hour’s drive north of Anchorage. Ride the rollercoasters, admire the record-breaking homegrown veg, and catch a show at the open-air Borealis Theatre. Expect some great food and drink too – summer berries are catnip for Alaskan chefs, who pack them in everything from pies to beer.
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival (mid-November)Up to 4,000 regal bald eagles descend on Haines, a city near Glacier Bay National Park, in mid-November, chasing the late-running salmon along the Chilkat River Valley. The American Bald Eagle Association has turned this wildlife spectacle into the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival. There’s live music and educational talks, but your best bet is to sign up to a guided hike to see these man-sized raptors perched in the trees along the riverbanks as they wait patiently to pick off the weakest salmon.
Our travelers also ask…
What time of year is warmest in Alaska?June and July are the warmest months in Alaska. This is summer, so plenty of sunshine combines with long hours of daylight. Temperatures range from an average of 17°C (and up to 20°C) in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Summer is also the warmest time to be in northern Alaska… although up above the Arctic Circle, warm is all relative, with highs of 10°C.
When can you see the Northern Lights in Alaska?Technically, all year round – but the Northern Lights are most visible in Alaska from November to March, when the nights are at their longest and darkest. Also called the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights really get grooving on the spring equinox (around 20 March), when solar storms cause twice as many disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field as usual.
When is the best time to go to Anchorage, Alaska?The best time of year to travel to Anchorage is June, when the whole city seems to revel in the long hours of daylight with a packed calendar of al fresco gigs, barbecues and sports events. However, the months either side are also good times to explore Anchorage with fewer crowds.
Spring, summer and autumn (May-September) are the best times to see wildlife in Alaska. Grizzly bears are busy catching salmon between late June and early September, humpback whales are particularly prolific in June and July, and orcas are usually around May-June.
More about Alaska, USA
Read our Alaska travel guide and you’ll quickly find all the information that you need to make the most of your time.
Read our guide on where to go in Alaska to discover the highlights and top itineraries of the biggest state in the USA.
Wildlife, waves, wilderness are the theme when it comes to things to do in Alaska – just don’t overlook meeting people.
The wildlife in Alaska is larger than life, with bears, whales, muskox and moose roaming this vast state.
Alaska small ship cruises wriggle their way around corrugated and whale-friendly coastlines. Find out more in our guide.
Learn all about the famously spectacular Denali National Park in our travel guide.
You can snooze under the sky-high eye of Mount Denali on an Alaska camping vacation.
Read our guide to explore the ins and outs of bear photography vacations in Alaska.
We’ve asked our expert vacation partners for the best Alaska travel tips, from hiking how-tos to which camera to pack.
Read on to learn how to travel responsibly in Alaska’s fragile environment.