How to Choose the Best Summer Month for Your Alaskan Vacation

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Alaska has more than three million lakes measuring 20 acres or larger.
Alaska has more than three million lakes measuring 20 acres or larger. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Alaska gets its name from the Aleut word "Alyeska," which means "great land." It is great in size, beauty, and pristine wilderness. Alaska is the largest state, by area, in America. It is home to Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, breathtaking glaciers and hundreds of small islands. Alaska is spectacular year-round, but summer is preferred by most tourists, as temperatures are mild and daylight stretches into late evening. June, July and August are all favorable months to visit Alaska, but each month has advantages and disadvantages.

Decide which climate conditions best fit your Alaska travel plans. Daytime temperatures in interior Alaska during the summer range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. June is the driest summer month. July is the warmest. August is the rainiest month, but mosquitoes are worse in June. They die off in late July and early August when night frost sets in. Consider the length of summer days. The tilt of the earth accounts for Alaska's periods of extended daylight in summer. In June, expect between 19 and 21 hours of sunlight. June 21 is the longest day of the year. July has 18 to 20 daylight hours. In August, sunlight in Alaska lasts between 15 and 16 hours a day.

August is the best summer month for catching the occasional aurora borealis.
August is the best summer month for catching the occasional aurora borealis. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Determine what you want to do and see. If you plan to hike mountain ranges, realize that Alaska's tundra doesn't melt until late June. Trails are snowy and muddy. Some facilities at Denali National Park don't open until late June. If your goal is to spot wildlife, early June is the time to see grizzly bears emerging from their winter dens. This is also when caribou migrate to their summer habitat. June and July are ideal months for spotting Orca whales. Summer is prime time for fishing for Alaska salmon. Fish for king and sockeye salmon in June and early July. Coho and red salmon run in mid-July.

About 400,000 people visit Denali National Park during summer.
About 400,000 people visit Denali National Park during summer. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Decide on your budget. Summer is the high tourism season in Alaska, particularly July. You may find occasional bargains on lodging and cruises the first week in June and the last weeks in August. Significant off-season prices begin after a Labor Day.

Tips & Warnings

  • Alaska is most crowded with tourists from the second week of June to the third week in August.

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