October in Alaska is one of the most peaceful times of the year to visit. The summer tourists are long gone, and you can enjoy many of the state’s most popular locations without the crowds. Whether you’re searching for solitude in the wilderness or fall foliage, check out Alaska vacation rentals in these lovely spots.

1. Haines

Enjoy views of the mountains along the Chilkoot Inlet and the Chilkat Inlet in Haines. The cool October weather is perfect for outdoor adventure. Try a guided hunting trip with Alaska Fair Chase Guiding, or buy a fishing license from Alaska sport shot to fish for Coho salmon. For stunning views of the mountains and inlets, hike the challenging Mount Ripinski Trail. Don’t miss the nearby Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, where you can see thousands of the birds during October’s Fall Congregation.

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2. Wrangell

Enjoy the last of the fall foliage during a Columbus Day weekend in Wrangell. Bring a rain jacket and head out into the forest for a hike on Mt. Dewey Trail, or try the beautiful Rainbow Falls Trail. If you’re interested in history, don’t miss ancient rock art at Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park. Thanks to its protected waters, Wrangell also offers fantastic fishing — wander along the shoreline and cast for halibut, or try your luck with trout fishing in the many local mountain streams.

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3. Talkeetna

Stay within driving distance of Denali National Park in Talkeetna. In early October, crowds are nearly nonexistent, so you can often enjoy the views from the Denali Park Road without seeing another soul. On warm days, head to Murie Center for a day hike into the hills. Back in Talkeetna, bundle up and head outside at night to search for the Northern Lights.

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4. Palmer

Experience the Matanuska Glacier before the intense winter weather surrounds your vacation rental in Palmer. Climb through shimmering blue ice caves, hike along the glacier, and explore the massive ice field on a tour with Matanuska Glacier Park. Enjoy the crisp weather on a river trip with Hell Bent Fishing Charters. If the weather cooperates, look out for fall colors on the Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive between Palmer and Willow.

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5. Sitka

Take in the views of snow-topped mountains rising above the ocean in Sitka. Columbus Day weekend is an ideal time to get out on the water. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle the calm waters of Sitka Harbor and Sealing Cove, or book a fishing tour with Classic Casting Adventures. While you’re in town, check out the hands-on activities at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration.

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6. Anchorage

Early October is the ideal time to visit Anchorage. The days are clear, temperatures are manageable, and the summer tourists have long since departed. Look for fall foliage while you hike the Flattop Mountain trail, or watch for migrating whales while you cruise through Prince William Sound. Sample beers and German food at the city’s Oktoberfest celebration, and in the evening, drive down Seward Highway to search for the Northern Lights.

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7. Seward

Just a couple of hours from Anchorage, Seward makes an easy Columbus Day weekend getaway. Take a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park with Major Marine Tours, which operates until mid-October — depending on the weather, you may be able to spot brilliant displays of fall color on the surrounding hillsides. If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend, check out the Seward Music and Arts Festival or grab a beer at the popular Seward Brewing Company.

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8. Juneau

If you’re in search of brisk fall weather, head straight for Juneau. Temperatures are cool but pleasant, and the occasional rainstorm keeps the forests looking lush. October is the ideal time to visit the Mendenhall Glacier without the crowds. Hike the Nugget Falls Trail and the Photo Point Trail to enjoy the fall colors while you check out views of the glacier. When you get back to town, check out the excellent Alaska State Museum. On Monday, the University of Alaska Southeast hosts an Indigenous Peoples’ Day event that includes traditional dance performances and food demonstrations.

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9. Girdwood

Enjoy the resort-style vibe in Girdwood, a charming town about an hour from Anchorage. Vacation rentals in Girdwood come with spectacular mountain views and easy access to popular restaurants such as The Double Musky Inn and Jack Sprat. Look out for changing leaves as you ride the Alyeska Tram up Mt. Alyeska, or hike the Winner Creek Trail.

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10. Ketchikan

Changing leaves blanket the hills near Ketchikan in the fall, creating a postcard-worthy scene. Take in the views as you fish for salmon. Either take a tour or pack your rod and walk to the town bridge to fish with the locals. When it rains, head to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center to learn about the cultural history of the Tongass National Forest. On Mondays, join locals in learning about Native American traditions at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day event.

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11. Fairbanks

Explore the history of Alaska’s Native American people over Columbus Day weekend as part of the city’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations. Head to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to see displays of local art, culture, and language. October is also an excellent time to see the Northern Lights. When the sun goes down, head to the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge or the Chena Lake Recreation Area to catch a glimpse.

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