Worst Time to Visit Alaska for Crowds and Seasonal Challenges
Alaska is a very beautiful state that is located in the far northwestern part of North America. It’s bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest. Alaska is a box of chocolates for adventurers, where you can explore wild landscapes, encounter diverse wildlife, and be amazed by incredible natural beauty. That makes Alaska a very lucrative, common, and popular destination for tourists. Still, many people forget to plan properly and don’t know about the worst time to visit Alaska.
Alaska is a favorite for tourists, but it’s not your usual travel place. If you want to have a great time in Alaska, remember to pre-plan accordingly and don’t forget to pay attention to other important details.
We’re here to assist you in crafting your adventure plans and letting you know when Alaska might not be at its best. It can help you to perfectly pre-plan ahead of your adventure.
Understanding The Seasons of Alaska
There are generally 4 seasons that can be seen in Alaska. In spring, snow can still be seen but there’s a mild weather shift and new wildlife, but there are few outdoor activities to participate in. Summer in Alaska will give you super long days, lots of animals, and colorful scenarios, but it can get so crowded and can make some dent in your pocket.
If you are into seeing beers, fall is the time, but still, some places might be super cold. Many cool fun activities are available in winter and how can we forget, that the star of the show, the northern lights; can also be seen in winter. But as the name suggests, it comes with lots of colds and there is not much of a daytime. Every season comes with quite some pros and cons in Alaska. Here’s a chart that will give you a basic understanding of the weather in Alaska during different times of the year –
|April – May
|36°F (High) / 24°F (Low)
|June – August
|58°F (High) / 43°F (Low)
|September – October
|52°F (High) / 39°F (Low)
|November – March
|29°F (High) / 18°F (Low)
Note that these temperatures are rough averages and may differ from year to year. Moreover, Alaska’s climate can vary based on the particular region within the state.
After analyzing all the various aspects of traveling to Alaska, it is evident that winter is undoubtedly the least favorable time to visit the place.
Winter Challenges in Alaska
Winters in Alaska can get challenging with freezing temperatures. If you’re planning to visit during winter, drive carefully and be prepared for challenging conditions. On top of that, there’s not much daylight either – you can hardly see the sun. And talking of the roads, they get very slippery and icy, making the overall navigation experience quite risky and hectic. So, if you plan to visit Alaska during the winter, buckle up. Be sure to take extra care when navigating those icy roads.
Are you even exploring Alaska properly if you don’t take part in the tons of outdoor activities that Alaska has to offer? Talk about wildlife viewing, glacier cruises, hiking, trekking, or sightseeing northern lights.
But when winter blankets Alaska in its icy grasp, taking part in outdoor activities really gets super challenging. The only two activities that become more fun this time are – snowboarding and skiing. But, just a gentle reminder again, the daylight during winter is very short.
You’ll see the sun in Alaska’s sky only for a few hours in winter. You might not be able to tick all your to-do lists as everything gets tougher when it’s night in Alaska. Although the shortage of daylight creates a dreamy ambiance, painting-like scenarios in Alaska’s sky and landscape, you’ll love it if you are a silent watcher and not an adventurous person. (which most of the travelers aren’t)
November Nightmare – The Worst Month to Visit Alaska
November is known to be the worst time to visit Alaska, as this is the time when the transition between fall and winter happens and it can give a lot of challenges to adventurous travelers.
This is the time when the place shifts to colder season. The weather becomes highly unpredictable, making it one of the most challenging times for travelers to plan and execute things. As most of the visitors tend to come from outside of the state, the place can get really risky and dangerous to those who are unfamiliar.
According to many tourists, Alaska kind of gets shut down during the time of early winter as everyone prepares for colder times. Due to this reason, travelers and adventurers might find them in very sketchy situations.
Don’t Underestimate The Weather
Alaska weather can never be trusted, it’s famously uncertain. even summer days can have quite cold evenings. One moment, you might bask in the sunshine, only to be caught in a sudden downpour the next. So, be prepared for anything and everything, and never forget, your pre-planning might not work every time, because it’s Alaska.
When To Visit Alaska?
Alaska being a place of not-very-common weather, causes some problems for regular visitors. You just can’t visit Alaska anytime you want (I mean, you indeed can but we can’t assure you how pleasant your trip will be). Many people believe that summer is the prime time for an Alaskan visit, but is it?
The question everyone wants to know the answer of, what time should you visit Alaska? The best time to visit Alaska is supposed to be during the summer months (June to August). This season offers milder temperatures, longer daylight hours, and a vibrant landscape. It’s the perfect time for outdoor fun such as hiking, spotting wildlife, fishing, or enjoying cultural festivals.
Activity Guide to Explore Alaska
There’s a saying, “What fits for you, might not fit for others.” Alaska is no exception. Alaska has things to offer for anyone at any time. Here is a quick guide to help you pick the perfect time to visit Alaska.
September to April might be the best time to see the northern lights of Alaska. Dark clear nights of fall and winter increase the chance of viewing. Go to places far from city lights, this will allow you to get a better view of the northern lights. Go to Fairbanks for the ultimate experience as that place allows tours, accommodations & many other fun experiences focused on the northern light experience. There are also single-day guided tours available ranging from $100-$200 per person. Multi-day tours with accommodation, food, and other facilities might cost you around $300-$800 or more depending on the facilities. Keep an eye on weather forecasts to make the most of your Northern Lights experience in Alaska.
During summer (June to August) you can enjoy fishing to the fullest as that is the perfect time when Salmons roam around in the cold waters of Alaska. You can fish in lakes, rivers, and even through ice. There are over 627 fish species including salmon, trout, and more. There are also tour packages available for fishing offered by various tour companies.
Hiking and Camping
During the summertime between June and August, longer days and milder temperatures are found which is ideal for hiking and camping. Alaska has hikes to offer to everyone – from basic to skilled learners. There are trails like Alpine and Tundra, where hikers can enjoy breathtaking landscaping views. While hiking and camping you should be aware of wildlife and especially bears. While camping you should also be aware of camping in a bear-resistant tent. There are many guided hiking and camping plans available, always try to join a group of people that will ensure your safety and security as it is most important while hiking or camping in Alaska.
Rafting and kayaking
Rafting and kayaking a very common outdoor activities among visitors, during summer between June and August, rivers and lakes thaw, allowing water activities. There are a number of rivers and lakes in Alaska that are perfect for rafting or kayaking. Talking of necessary equipment for kayaking, we recommend contacting a tour operator. Most tour operators provide all the necessary equipment from rafts, kayaks, and life jackets to even dry suits for colder water scenarios. Depending on the time and category, a kayaking session generally starts from $100 and can go relatively higher but the adventure is worth the price.
The time between July and September is just perfect for sightseeing the bears of Alaska. The Salmon runs draw bears to rivers and streams. There are several prime locations like Katmai National Park, Brooks Falls, McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Kodiak Island, Lake Clark National Park, and Admiralty Island where you can participate in bear viewing. You can take guided tours or boat tours to watch bears. We recommend you take a guided tour covering transportation, safety, and expert advice as they are necessary while watching for bears.
There are a lot of other activities like whale watching, cultural festivals, glacier viewing, winter sports, etc. to do in Alaska. You can try them too.
What Should You Avoid in Alaska?
Alaska is generally safe for tourists and visitors, but you need to stay alert when dealing with wildlife. Remember that while nature brings enjoyment, it can also be dangerous. Always be ready for the worst weather, which might exceed your expectations. Avoid brown bears in particular. Follow your guide’s instructions at all times, and you’re all set.
How Expensive is Alaska?
Alaska is comparatively more expensive than your other regular travel destinations. Most of your expenses will go towards flights to Alaska, which generally cost around $300 to $800 (from the US). Accommodation is the second-largest expense. Hotel rooms can range between $100 to $300, depending on the size and features available. During the peak tourist season (June to August), prices go even higher due to demand. Overall, if you’re coming to Alaska, you can’t go cheap.
Overall, the common answer to “What is the worst time to visit Alaska?” is winter. Although, it totally depends on person to person. Alaska has things to do for everyone. Just make sure you are well-planned and prepared, and that’s all really needed. Hope you will have an amazing adventure in Alaska.