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When to visit Alaska

by SmarterTravel Staff

Long, warm, sunny days in summer melt away the myth that Alaska is freezing and dark. It's the perfect time to experience nature by hiking, camping, or even from a flight-seeing tour. When winter rolls around, temperatures get considerably colder and the amount of sunlight fades. With six to thirteen hours of sunlight left and temperatures around 20 degrees, winter is the best time to drive a team of sled dogs, go skiing, or relax in a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

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  • high season: June to August
  • low season: November to March
  • shoulder season: April to May, September to October

Weather Information

Summer temperatures range from 60 to 85 degrees throughout the state, while temperatures in the winter can easily drop into the negatives in some areas. Fall brings the first chill of winter and diminishing daylight, but is also the time when the Northern Lights become visible. The summer brings elevated temperatures and tourism.

Crowd Information

Tourism is higher during the summer than at any other time of year. Annual events, such as the World Ice Championships (Late February through March), the Iditarod (March), Summer Solstice (June 21), and the Alaska State Fair (late August through early September), contribute to an increase in tourism. Check for any events that may draw a large crowd before settling on a travel date.

Closure Information

Many sites are seasonal. Call ahead to be certain that the specific sites are open.

When to Save

The best prices are offered during the low and shoulder seasons. May is a great time to visit, due to discounted prices and favorable weather. September can also be a good month to visit for the same reasons.

When to Book

The summer months tend to fill up quickly, so book as far in advance as possible. Booking in November for the following summer is common.

Information provided by the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

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