Did you know that the month of August is the best time to visit Alaska? In August, Alaska enjoys 18 hours of daylight, warm days and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, so it’s easy to see why August is a great time to visit Alaska!
Traveling to Alaska will be an unforgettable adventure that promises stunning landscapes, from towering mountains and icy glaciers to pristine forests and vibrant coastal waters. Alaska offers a vast and untamed wilderness waiting to be explored. Whether you seek the thrill of encountering bears and whales, the serenity of hiking through national parks, or the wonder of witnessing the Northern Lights, a journey to the 49th state is a remarkable experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who travel there.
August is the Best Month to Visit Alaska, for Several Reasons:
Pleasant Weather: August is one of the best months to experience Alaska’s mild weather. The temperatures are typically comfortable, ranging from 10°C to 21°C during the day, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploration. The summer days are longer, allowing you to make the most of your trip and enjoy the extended daylight hours.
Wildlife Viewing: Alaska is known for its abundant wildlife, and August is an excellent time to observe various species. You’ll have a higher chance of spotting bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and even whales along the coast. The salmon run in August attracts a multitude of bald eagles and bears to the rivers, providing thrilling opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts.
Spectacular Scenery: Alaska’s landscapes are breathtaking, and August showcases some of the most stunning natural beauty the state has to offer. The mountains, glaciers, and fjords are often bathed in warm, golden light, creating a picturesque setting for photography and sightseeing. Whether you’re exploring Denali National Park, cruising through Glacier Bay, or hiking in the Kenai Peninsula, the vistas will leave you awe-inspired.
Outdoor Adventures: August presents a myriad of outdoor activities for adventure seekers. You can go hiking, backpacking, or camping in the wilderness, taking advantage of the pleasant temperatures and longer daylight hours. Kayaking or rafting on the rivers and lakes, fishing for salmon or trout, visiting Alaska’s many glaciers, and even participating in glacier trekking or dog sledding are popular activities during this time of the year.
Northern Lights Potential: While the peak season for viewing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Alaska is typically in the winter months, August offers a chance to witness this natural phenomenon under the right conditions. Although the nights are not as dark as during winter, the aurora can still make an appearance, especially in the later part of the month when the nights grow longer again.
How To Get To Alaska
There are many different ways to get to Alaska! It’s worth noting that the best option for you depends on your preferences, budget, and the specific destinations you wish to visit within Alaska. Consider factors such as how much time you have and your comfort levels when choosing your mode of travel.
Flying is the most common and convenient way to reach Alaska. There are several major airports in Alaska, including Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport, which have regular flights from major cities in the United States and Canada.
Once you arrive, you can rent a car or use other transportation options to explore the state.
If you enjoy the freedom and flexibility of driving, a road trip to Alaska can be an adventure of a lifetime. The most famous route is the Alaska Highway (Alcan Highway), which begins in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and ends in Delta Junction, Alaska.
This scenic drive takes you through breathtaking landscapes, including mountains, forests, and rivers. Make sure to plan for the long distances and check road conditions before embarking on the trip.
The Alaska Railroad provides a scenic and relaxing way to travel through the state. The rail system covers routes such as Anchorage to Denali National Park, Anchorage to Fairbanks, and Seward to Anchorage.
This mode of transportation allows you to enjoy panoramic views of Alaska’s wilderness from the comfort of a train. You can combine rail travel with other modes of transportation for a comprehensive Alaska experience.
Sail on an Alaska Cruise
Alaska cruises are a popular choice for experiencing the state’s stunning coastline and glaciers. Many cruise lines offer itineraries that include stops at ports such as Anchorage, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. August is a peak month for cruises, and it allows you to witness the beauty of Alaska’s coastal landscapes, glaciers, and wildlife while enjoying onboard amenities and organized shore excursions.
There are several cruise lines that offer exceptional Alaskan cruise experiences. Here are some of the best Alaskan cruise lines known for their quality service, itineraries, and onboard experiences:
Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises is one of the most popular cruise lines for exploring Alaska. They offer a variety of Alaskan itineraries, including round-trip voyages from Vancouver or Seattle, and one-way trips between Anchorage and Vancouver. Princess Cruises is renowned for its expertise in Alaskan cruising, with onboard naturalists providing commentary, glacier viewing from their signature “North to Alaska” program, and immersive shore excursions.
Holland America Line: Holland America Line offers a range of Alaskan cruise options, including 7 to 14-day itineraries departing from Vancouver, Seattle, or Anchorage. They provide a classic cruise experience with elegant ships, exceptional service, and a focus on cultural enrichment. Onboard, you can enjoy Alaska-inspired cuisine, educational presentations, and activities that showcase the local heritage and wildlife.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Cruises offers upscale Alaskan cruises with modern and luxurious ships. Their itineraries typically include visits to popular Alaskan ports such as Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, along with breathtaking glacier viewing experiences. Celebrity Cruises is known for its exceptional dining options, attentive service, and more.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line offers a wide range of Alaskan cruise options, including 7 to 14-day itineraries departing from Seattle, Vancouver, or Seward. They focus on providing a freestyle cruising experience, allowing passengers to customize their vacation with flexible dining options and onboard activities. Norwegian Cruise Line offers stunning glacier viewing opportunities and a variety of shore excursions to explore Alaska’s natural beauty.
Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean International offers Alaskan cruises with their innovative and activity-filled ships. Their itineraries typically include visits to popular ports such as Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, along with opportunities for glacier viewing. Onboard, you can enjoy activities like rock climbing, ice skating, and Broadway-style shows, making it an excellent choice for families and travelers seeking a range of entertainment options.
Your Tier One Travel Consultant can help you choose which Alaskan cruise is perfect for you!
Alaska’s Wildlife in August
In August, Alaska offers a fantastic opportunity to witness a diverse range of wildlife in their natural habitats. Here are some of the remarkable wildlife species you may encounter during your visit:
Bears: Alaska is home to both black bears and brown bears (including grizzly bears). August is a prime time to spot bears as they gather along rivers and streams for the annual salmon run. Locations such as Katmai National Park, Kodiak Island, and Admiralty Island are renowned for bear viewing opportunities.
Moose: Moose are abundant in Alaska, and August is an excellent time to see them. During this month, moose are often found grazing in wetlands, near lakes, and along roadsides. Denali National Park, Kenai Peninsula, and Chugach State Park are popular areas to spot moose.
Dall Sheep: Dall Sheep are known for their stunning white coats and impressive horns. They inhabit the high mountainous regions of Alaska, and August is a great time to spot them on steep slopes and rocky cliffs. Denali National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park are some of the places to see Dall Sheep.
Whales: August marks the peak of whale watching season in Alaska. Humpback whales, Orcas (killer whales), and other species migrate to Alaska’s coastal waters to feed on the abundant fish and krill. You can take boat tours or join cruises in places like the Inside Passage, Kenai Fjords National Park, or Glacier Bay National Park for incredible whale-watching opportunities.
Bald Eagles and Other Birds: Alaska is home to a large population of bald eagles, and they can be seen throughout the state. In August, with the salmon spawning, eagles gather near rivers and lakes to feed on the fish. Look for eagles in places like Haines, Sitka, and along the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Alaska is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with a rich variety of avian species. In August, you can see migratory birds such as Arctic terns, puffins, bald eagles, and a wide array of waterfowl and shorebirds. Coastal areas, wetlands, and wildlife refuges like the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge are excellent birdwatching locations.
Sea Otters and Seals: Alaska’s coastal areas are inhabited by charming sea otters and various seal species such as harbor seals and Steller sea lions. You can often spot them floating on their backs or lounging on rocky shores. Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Inside Passage are great places to observe these marine mammals.
Remember that wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, and it’s important to respect the animals’ space and observe them from a safe distance. Consider joining guided wildlife tours or hiring experienced naturalist guides who can enhance your wildlife viewing experience while ensuring the well-being of the animals.
Best Things to Do in Alaska in the Month of August
In August, Alaska offers an abundance of incredible experiences and activities.
Here are some of the best things to do in Alaska during this month:
Witness the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis): Although the Northern Lights are more commonly associated with the winter months, August offers a chance to catch a glimpse of this mesmerizing natural phenomenon. Head to remote areas away from light pollution, such as Fairbanks or Denali National Park, on clear nights for the best chances of seeing the aurora.
Explore Denali National Park: Visit Denali National Park, home to the iconic Denali, North America’s highest peak. Take a bus tour deep into the park’s wilderness, spot wildlife such as bears and moose, hike scenic trails, and marvel at the breathtaking landscapes of mountains, tundra, and glaciers.
Cruise Glacier Bay National Park: Embark on a boat tour or cruise to Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its stunning glaciers. Witness the thunderous calving of tidewater glaciers, admire the towering ice formations, and learn about the park’s unique ecosystem and wildlife.
Explore Alaska’s Glaciers: Experience Alaska’s many glaciers up close by taking a glacier tour or hike. Popular destinations for glacier exploration include the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, the Exit Glacier near Seward in Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Matanuska Glacier near Anchorage. Consider guided tours that provide expert commentary and ensure safety on the ice.
Go Coho Salmon Fishing: August marks the peak of the coho salmon (also known as silver salmon) run in Alaska’s rivers. If you enjoy fishing, head to rivers like the Kenai River or the Copper River, where you can try your luck at catching these prized sportfish.
Ride the Alaska Railroad: Embark on a scenic journey aboard the Alaska Railroad, which offers stunning views of Alaska’s landscapes. Travel from Anchorage to Denali National Park or further to Fairbanks, enjoying panoramic vistas of mountains, forests, and rivers along the way. The train offers a comfortable and relaxing way to experience the state’s beauty.
Visit Cooper Landing: Located on the Kenai Peninsula, Cooper Landing is a picturesque town known for its access to fishing and outdoor activities. Enjoy world-class fishing on the Kenai River, go hiking in the Chugach Mountains, or simply soak in the serene beauty of the surrounding nature.
Explore Tongass National Forest: Visit the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States. This temperate rainforest is located in Southeast Alaska, encompassing stunning coastal landscapes, fjords, and islands. Go hiking, or kayaking, or take a guided tour to immerse yourself in the lush wilderness.
Discover Katmai National Park: Katmai National Park is renowned for its brown bear population and the famous Brooks Falls, where bears gather to feast on salmon. Take a guided tour or fly-in adventure to observe bears in their natural habitat and witness the incredible sight of bears catching salmon.
Cruise Prince William Sound: Take a boat tour or cruise through Prince William Sound, a scenic coastal region known for its rugged fjords, glaciers, and abundant marine life. Marvel at towering tidewater glaciers, spot sea otters, seals, and whales, and enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of this pristine wilderness.
Explore Kenai Fjords National Park: Embark on a boat tour or kayak adventure in Kenai Fjords National Park. Witness the impressive tidewater glaciers, spot wildlife such as whales, sea lions, and seabirds, and soak in the majestic beauty of the park’s icy landscapes and fjords.
August in Alaska offers a plethora of unforgettable experiences, from exploring national parks and glaciers to witnessing wildlife spectacles and embarking on scenic boat tours. Embrace the state’s natural wonders and immerse yourself in the unique beauty that Alaska has to offer.
ARE YOU READY TO EXPLORE ALASKA THIS SUMMER?
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