When to Visit
Mid-May to mid-September is the ideal time to visit this wilderness state - from late spring through to early autumn. During the height of the summer, with endless days under the glow of the midnight sun, there is plenty of time available to explore epic landscapes in search of dramatic photo opportunities and wildlife encounters. Alternatively visit in winter for snow-covered landscapes and the chance to experience stunning displays of the aurora borealis.
Alaska’s main holiday season arrives with the emergence of bears from hibernation in May. At the height of summer, the midnight sun allows for long hours of exploration – in Fairbanks you can enjoy around 21 hours of daylight whilst in the far north the sun barely sets at all.
Bear-viewing is possible in Alaska’s national parks throughout the summer months, with the salmon runs of July offering the chance to witness bears congregating in larger numbers around waterfalls and rivers.
Marine life is also in abundance – over 500 humpbacks can be found in the Inside Passage during the summer, with June and July the best months to observe bubble-net feeding. Other species, including orcas, belugas and Dall’s porpoises are also commonly seen around Alaska’s coastlines from June through to September.
As the brief summer draws to a close, autumn colours start to appear from as early as August. Denali’s low lying shrubs provide a vivid backdrop for photography and wildlife can still be seen well into September. Many hotels and excursion companies close down by the end of September for the long winter ahead.
In the middle of winter daylight hours are limited, but as the New Year arrives there is a sense of expectancy as days start to lengthen again. Every February celebrations take place at the annual Fur Rondy festival in Anchorage, which precedes the Iditarod, perhaps the most famous dog-sled race in the world. Northern lights and winter activity holidays are available from December through to March/April, set against a spectacular backdrop of snow-covered mountains and frozen lakes.
Glaciers, Grizzlies & Whales