Alaska is the largest U.S. state by area, but one of the smallest by population, which provides a wealth of open wilderness abounding with recreational opportunities. The distinct weather, magnificent scenery, fascinating wildlife, and exciting year-round activities make Alaska a popular holiday destination. Nearby many vacation rentals in Alaska, you can easily hike, fish, ski, attend special festivals, and observe the breathtaking aurora borealis. Here are the top things to do in Alaska during each season.
Visiting Alaska in the Summer
The warmest weather in Alaska occurs during the summer, with temperatures generally hovering around 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. June is the driest month and also has the longest days of the year. July is the warmest month, while August experiences some rain showers but is still warmer than June. Pack your shorts, sunglasses, mosquito repellent, and light jackets for the evenings. Most tours that stress outdoor activities take place during the summer months. On Pack Creek Bear Tours out of Juneau, you take a small float plane to Admiralty Island or Chichagof Island and observe hundreds of brown bears mating, salmon fishing, and foraging for clams. The Denali Natural History Tour leaves from Denali Park Village and takes you on a comfortable bus through the enormous park to view wildlife such as moose, caribous, and foxes. On Alaska Travel Adventures’ Whale Watching Adventure, you travel on a 48-passenger jet boat from Juneau to Auke Bay to observe humpbacks, orcas, and other whale species from large observation windows or the outside viewing deck while you listen to their enigmatic underwater calls through an amplified hydrophone system.
Summer is the perfect time for Alaskan hiking adventures. The Eagle River Nature Center in Anchorage offers guided hikes through lovely Chugach State Park, and Alaska Nature Guides takes you on day hikes in Denali National Park. For a truly unique experience, try the Denali Black Diamond Covered Wagon tour, which takes you over the tundra in Denali National Park in a horse-drawn covered wagon. Explore Alaska on wheels by renting a bicycle at Downtown Bicycle Rental in Anchorage. If you need some guidance, join a cycling tour with Cycle Alaska Juneau Biking Tours. Kayaking provides an up-close look at Alaskan rivers, seacoast, and wildlife. Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking out of Seward takes you out on beautiful Resurrection Bay. Don’t miss all the fun events and activities at the Alaska State Fair, which takes place every year in late summer in Palmer.
Visiting Alaska in the Fall
By September, temperatures begin to cool, the days are shorter, and the nights are darker, but there are still plenty of unique and thrilling things to do near Alaska vacation rentals. When deciding what to pack, be sure to include heavy jackets for the coming chill. For an unbelievably exciting excursion, join the Northern Alaska Tour Company’s Polar Bear Expedition out of Seward during a short window at the beginning of fall. Take a small plane over the Brooks Mountain Range and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to an Inupiat village called Kaktovik. After lunch, you board open-air boats that take you out to barrier islands where polar bears congregate. Another fall wildlife event is the Bald Eagle Festival in Haines. Start at the headquarters of the American Bald Eagle Foundation. After tours and presentations, a bus drives you to the Alaska Bald Eagle Preserve, where thousands of eagles congregate in early November to feed on late salmon runs.
Visiting Alaska in the Winter
If you don’t mind the long hours of darkness and increased cold, winters in Alaska bring a host of singular and exciting activities. Pack plenty of warm clothes, gloves, hats, and boots. In winter, the flickering colors of the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are most plainly visible in the night sky. The best place to observe them is Fairbanks, and Arctic Circle Aurora Fly and Drive Adventures takes you from Fairbanks by plane to Coldfoot, a small town in the Brooks Mountain Range, then by van to an optimum location to view the lights. The Alyeska Resort in Girdwood near Anchorage provides world-class downhill skiing and snowboarding. For an exciting exploration of the Alaskan winter wilderness, join Alaska Backcountry Adventures Snowmachine Tours out of Palmer for a snowmobile excursion. Salmon Berry Tours Dog Sledding based in Anchorage invites you on a cross-country tour of the Alaskan woods behind a team of huskies.
Winter in Alaska offers numerous special events. The Iron Dog, which takes place in February each year, is the longest and most grueling snowmobile race in the world. A ceremonial start takes place in downtown Anchorage with parades and exhibitions. The real race begins in Big Lake, and there are further celebrations at the halfway point in Nome and the conclusion in Fairbanks. The Iditarod Dog Sled Race, an arduous event in which mushers and their dogs travel 1,000 miles to Nome, also begins ceremonially in Anchorage. You can participate by attending the opening banquet, meeting the dogs in their kennels, chasing the race on an air tour, or even riding in one of the participant’s sled baskets for the first few miles. Another unforgettable winter experience is the Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic in Nome. The six-hole course is out on the frozen-over Bering Sea, and the greens consist of rolled out green carpets. The problems on this course are not sand traps but snow drifts.
Visiting Alaska in the Spring
Early spring is generally a quiet time in Alaska, as most tours don’t begin until mid-May. However, some fishing excursions begin earlier, such as Homer Fishing Charters based out of Homer, dubbed the Halibut Capital of the World. The excursion includes a ride through breathtaking scenery on a comfortable boat, the gear and tackle, and a chance to angle for enormous halibut, salmon, and rockfish. Events that take place in spring include the Arctic Man Ski and Snow-Go Classic, a tough combined downhill skiing and snowmobile race, at Summit Lake in April. The Piuraagiaqta Spring Festival in Barrow celebrates the traditional arrival of whaling season with contests, games, and activities.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Alaska?
Every season in Alaska brings unique events and activities. Fall offers special wildlife tours, winter offers the northern lights, snow sports, and festivals, and spring has fishing and exciting local events. However, due to the warmer weather and wider range of activities, summer is the best time to visit Alaska.
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