Best time to visit alaska

Old May 31st, 2016, 05:25 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Best time to visit alaska

Hello all
My wife and I are planning a 3 or so week trip to alaska in 2017 from the UK. I will have a number of questions over the next few months but I guess the most important one is when is the best time to travel or better put what do you get at different times of the year. We will not be cruising she likes wildlife and scenery photography. We are quite adventurous so kyaking the fjords etc is a possibility. Northern lights? I know it isn't a lot to go on but just want tk kick start a conversation. I have a lot of friends in america but non have been to alaska unfortunatly
Thoughts?
Many thanks
Graeme.
Jock392 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 05:30 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,360
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My vote goes to July or August.


_______________________________________________
Vic's travels: http://my.flightmemory.com/vogilvie
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 05:41 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow thanks for the quick response. Is that high season? Looking to go either late spring or early autumn if poss.
Graeme.
Jock392 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 05:45 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,476
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
It's a very big state and the "when" question is very much tied up with "where." The farther north you go, the shorter the summer season and the longer the days (up to 24h of sunshine obviously.) Meanwhile, SE Alaska (Juneau and the panhandle communities) can be wet at any time of year, but have milder and later-arriving winters.

In interior Alaska and around rivers and tundra, mosquitoes can drive you crazy in early summer (June - July) while autumn arrives in Denali Park in late August, for me the most desirable time. However by August you run a 50-50 chance of seeing the mountain (due to clouds.)

Seeing the aurora requires darkness, clear skies, and luck. For visitors from the UK my recommendation is to forget about the northern lights in Alaska and invest in a plane ticket to Shetland. Go for Up-Helly-Aa in January and wear a horny hat while you wait for the aurora and/or a burning boat. (Useless information - did you know that the Gaelic translation for the aurora is "the dancing men?")

So if it was me I'd look at starting in the north in late July or the first part of August, then work your way south, ending in SE Alaska before flying out.

Three weeks is a good long time, and again, if it was me, I'd do something like this:

Fly into Anchorage and as soon as you've got your clocks adjusted (9 hours before the UK) fly up to Nome. This is a very unconventional destination, but it will be a quick immersion in Alaska. Explore this historic gold rush town on the Bering Sea, watch the loons mining for gold in their dredges in the ocean. Rent a vehicle and explore the surprisingly extensive road system radiating from Nome (not connected to the rest of the state by 500 miles of wilderness) where you can see bears, moose, muskoxen, caribou, umpteen types of birds. Experience the treeless tundra, visit a native village...

Then back to Anchorage, rent a car, and do a big loop - north to Denali Park, up to Fairbanks, down the Richardson Hwy to Valdez, ferry across Prince William Sound to Whittier, visit Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park, then return the car to Anchorage.

Finally, hop a flight to Juneau and spend a few days in SE Alaska. Take the ferry to historic and beautiful Sitka, or maybe to one of the tiny villages around the region, like Tenakee or Pelican, just to get a feel of this part of the state. Finish by flying to Seattle for the trip home.

That would be a three-week holiday packed with variety and a real cross-section of the state. Just a suggestion.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old May 31st, 2016, 05:54 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lol I am from Scotland so may well do the northern lights there.
Amazing response and a lot to think about. Every reply opens up more questions so I hope it is ok to keep asking?
Does the spring time say May see an awakening as it were of animals or is it quite grey still.
Off season would be best as a holiday of that length will be pricey and if we can keep that down so much the better.
We don't want to do hype as it were we want to go to good honest places with things to see and do as we aren't big crowd followers.
Is a train a decent thing to do to cover distance from say anchorage up north and back as a round trip then hire cars to go east and west?
If I am getting a bit unreal just yell I always listen to those that know
Graeme
Jock392 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 06:06 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,476
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
May is not a good time to look for animals; it's still wintry in the interior and north; some years you can't even get into the interior of, say, Denali National Park until the very end of the month, and even then not all the way. And as I say, autumn begins very early; the farther north you go the earlier, obviously.

Getting away from crowds is hard to do; there aren't that many miles of roads and everybody seems to want to see the same things. Tourism infrastructure is geared to intensive summer visitation.

That said, once you're on the road the crowds are a non-issue, and that's partly my reasoning for suggesting Nome - probably visited by less than 5% of visitors to the state.

The train between Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks is an option, but in my view it's unsatisfying and overpriced. A car gives you far more freedom and flexibility. And yes, hire cars in the summer are pricey. You should start looking for car rental deals as soon as you have your dates.

Keep the questions coming, no worries.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old May 31st, 2016, 06:39 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,242
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>Off season would be best as a holiday of that length will be pricey and if we can keep that down so much the better.
janisj is online now  
Old May 31st, 2016, 07:34 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And tourist services (tours, flights, etc) are less available outside of tourist season. Alaskan small business owners whose livelihoods derive from the tourist trade make their yearly income in a matter of a few months then bunker down (or bugger off to California).
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 07:39 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,242
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>(or bugger off to California)
janisj is online now  
Old May 31st, 2016, 08:48 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,386
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I visited the last week of June and first week of July. Weather was cool and rainy in Homer, rest of the trip was sunny, in fact almost too warm some places. I don't think we saw any mosquitos.

Homer is fun to visit.
sunbum1944 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 08:54 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,386
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you go to Homer- take the Danny J ( a ferry) over to Halibut Cove for dinner at the Saltry Restaurant. Reservations required and I would make as early as possible.
Fun trip.
sunbum1944 is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 10:21 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think July is the best time. It is not cold or hot but right temperature (at-least for our taste). If you want suggestions on activities, you can read our blog for details and photos.

http://www.lifeasweexplore.com/home/...aska-road-trip
kperaka is offline  
Old May 31st, 2016, 11:53 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 18,200
Received 22 Likes on 4 Posts
The crew of our small expedition ship told us last week of June and first week of July were best. We did that and had perfect weather, no mosquitos inland.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2016, 08:06 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 128
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Come visit us for three weeks. Make it the last 10 days of August and first 11 of September. Do the first week of September in the Denali & Fairbanks area. Denali will give you wildlife possibilities, as well in September we have 'real' nighttime and the opportunity for NLs exists. That also has you here with our beautiful fall colours.

All of our destinations have a to of things to do/see. Here's a sample itinerary (I'll just list places/areas and leave it up to you to do some research for more info. about them):

Aug22 - arrive in ANC & rest
Aug23 - drive to Homer
Aug24 - Homer
Aug25 - drive to Seward
Aug26 - Seward
Aug27 - drive to Girdwood/Portage/Whittier
Aug28 - G/P/W
Aug29- ANC & fly to Kotzebue
Aug30 - Kotzebue
Aug31 - return to ANC
Sep01 - drive to Talkeetna
Sep02 - drive to Denali
Sep03 - Denali
Sep04 - Denali
Sep05 - drive to Fairbanks
Sep06 - Fairbanks area
Sep07 - drive to Valdez
Sep08 - Valdez
Sep09 - drive to Matanuska Glacier area
Sep10 - drive to ANC fly home

google map: https://goo.gl/maps/AAZEofAu6jm

The above is just a suggestion (I'd do it in a heartbeat); though it would allow you to do/see everything you listed.
sdpryde is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2016, 10:32 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Many many thanks. Sorry for the break but we needed to sort out some fundimentals lol.
My wife is looking at end may beginning of June. A 3 week trip with ether following
Arrive anchorage and stay for a couple of days.
Train to whittier to access ferry to value or cordova. Look at animal spotting in this area.
Back to whittier and train to seward. Look at kyakking in this area for a couple of days or so.
Get to kodiak by ferry? A fee days animal viewing etc.
Ferry to Homer for a couple of days then return to anchorage.
Of the 3 center area, Prince William sound, kenai NP and kodiak what is best for what and is this too small an area to really look at alaska. Would that all be done in less than 3 weeks
Cheers all.
Graeme
Jock392 is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2016, 12:48 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,360
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Aug29- ANC & fly to Kotzebue
Aug30 - Kotzebue
Aug31 - return to ANC"

I have a slightly different perspective on this. Instead, I would suggest:

Aug29 - ANC
Aug30 - Kotzebue
Aug31 - ANC

You can fly to Kotzebue, take an all day tour and return to Anchorage in the same day. I have done it. IMO, there is not enough to do in Kotzebue to warrant an overnight stay. On the other hand, there is enough in Anchorage for 2 days. The Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage Museum and Alaska Zoo are just a few possibilities.

_______________________________________________
Vic's travels: http://my.flightmemory.com/vogilvie
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2016, 01:07 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,242
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>"Aug29- ANC & fly to Kotzebue
Aug30 - Kotzebue
Aug31 - return to ANC"

I have a slightly different perspective on this. Instead, I would suggest:

Aug29 - ANC
Aug30 - Kotzebue
Aug31 - ANC
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 18th, 2016, 08:58 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,810
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We have had two very mild winters, and spring comes early. June has been a stellar weather month for every activity. Some years, July can be on the rainy side, as can August. I vote for late May/early June, as the time frame.

Enjoy your planning. Garydloo and sdpryde have excellent advice, as usual.
jetset1 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2016, 12:18 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,476
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
Without paragraph breaks I had a hard time sorting out this post, so I've taken the liberty to add some where I think you probably wanted them.

Many many thanks. Sorry for the break but we needed to sort out some fundimentals lol. My wife is looking at end may beginning of June. A 3 week trip with ether following:

(1) Arrive anchorage and stay for a couple of days. Train to whittier to access ferry to value or cordova. Look at animal spotting in this area.

Back to whittier and train to seward. Look at kyakking in this area for a couple of days or so.

(2) Get to kodiak by ferry? A fee days animal viewing etc.
Ferry to Homer for a couple of days then return to anchorage.

Of the 3 center area, Prince William sound, kenai NP and kodiak what is best for what and is this too small an area to really look at alaska. Would that all be done in less than 3 weeks


Hope that's right.

Some comments.

1. The ferry to Kodiak requires you to get to Homer, and if you have a rental car you have to leave it in Homer while you're in Kodiak, an expensive proposition. In addition, the ferry to Kodiak can be very rough. If Kodiak is in your sights, you're better off flying from Anchorage - cheaper than the alternative too.

2. Seeing wildlife in Kodiak (one usually is looking for brown bears) can be very expensive as you need to fly in someplace - as a rule.

3. Of the "three areas" - PW Sound, Kenai Fjords and Kodiak, you'll see some beautiful scenery, but it's hardly tantamount to letting you "really look" at Alaska. They comprise a very small part of the state, and are only really representative of themselves.

Visiting Kenai Fjords NP really is either a very short experience or one that takes days and days. There's minimal access to the national park except for boat excursions out of Seward, most of which are just day trips. Anything longer requires hiking in (or chartering in on a floatplane or boat). Prince William Sound, on the other hand, is enormous and not summed up with a glacier cruise or a crossing on the ferry, although I like Cordova very much; it's somewhat off the beaten path for most visitors, owing to its relative isolation.

You haven't included Denali Park in your list. That's fine, so if your three weeks is available I'd consider a big loop - Anchorage to Valdez, ferry (with car) to Whittier, drive to Seward for Kenai Fjords, then back to Anchorage. This could be done comfortably in ten days or less, leaving you with another ten days to allocate elsewhere. You could fly to Juneau and experience SE Alaska, or visit Denali, or fly to some bush village.. many options.

For a first timer, frankly, I'd then take a cruise southbound from Seward or Whittier to Vancouver BC, which is quite affordable and will give you the opportunity to see SE Alaska comfortably. Or better, start with the cruise and use the week on the water to recover from jetlag, so that when you get to Alaska the nine-hour time change isn't debilitating.
Gardyloo is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Kathy450
United States
13
Oct 7th, 2017 10:41 AM
rmgood
United States
3
Oct 4th, 2016 02:24 PM
suspire
United States
10
Dec 18th, 2005 12:21 AM
Kentucky
United States
19
Sep 11th, 2003 06:58 AM
R.F.
United States
5
Jul 1st, 2002 04:00 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -