I visited Alaska this year and took a RCL cruise through the Inside Passage and had the best and most scenic vacation ever!
I’d love to share my experiences with you and I put together this information to help answer any questions people tend to ask….
I would love to help you plan your Alaska Vacation.
Call me! Karen Vaughan 404-841-3100 Ext 108 or email Karen@hcitravel.com
When is the best month to visit Alaska?
You can’t go wrong visiting Alaska anytime between May 10 and September 15. The days are long, nature is in full bloom, and the air is alive with energy. Only about 20 % of people live year round in Alaska as it is a big tourist destination only during these months.
Alaska Summer Visitor Season
Most tours operate mid-May to mid-September, with the exception of those into Denali (mid-June to end of August). Peak season is mid-June to mid-August. Before and after, some day tours and hotels offer “shoulder season” discounts of 10-25%.
June 21 is the longest day of the year, with 19 hours of daylight in Anchorage, 22 in Fairbanks, and 18 in Southeast.
“It was so strange for me when flying into Anchorage at midnight and yet it was just as bright a day as noon in Atlanta. It’s not hard to get use to the daylight all day but I do recommend bringing a night mask to cover your eyes to sleep.” – KV
You’ll find Alaska’s summer temperatures surprisingly pleasant. Daytime highs range from 60°F – 80°F. Nighttime lows are refreshingly cool, dipping into the 40’s – 50’s. May and September are 5°- 10° cooler. However, temperatures vary wildly depending on which region of Alaska you plan to visit.
“I thought it would be much colder than it really was…so I toted all my heavy winter gear but didn’t even use it. Your best bet is to dress in layers and bring a backpack—you’ll stay warm and dry when it’s chilly or wet, and you can peel off layers and stow them as the weather changes.” – KV
So When’s the Best Season to Visit Alaska?
Put it all together, and we suggest June 15 – July 15 as the best time to visit Alaska. But not everyone can visit during that month window, and that’s no problem. Alaska weather is not predictable. You can come in August and bask in sunshine or in June and face “horizontal rain” (driving rain plus strong winds). Alaskans have learned not to let weather interfere with their plans—or mood. Resident Alaskans are some of the most laid back and friendly folks around.
ALASKA DESTINATIONS AND HIGHLIGHTS
Anchorage is located in south-central Alaska, nestled between the Chugach Mountains to the east and the shoreline of the Cook Inlet to the west. The town was originally settled in 1915 at the mouth of Ship Creek to support railroad construction. Anchorage has grown steadily to become the business, cultural and distribution center of Alaska. Nowadays nearly half of Alaska’s 600,000 residents live in Anchorage. Anchorage boasts a great selection of attractions, restaurants and shopping, so be sure to plan a visit to the city as part of your Alaska vacation.
Juneau is best known as the state’s capital. Located in South East Alaska Its location and function as a political center give Juneau the ability to offer big-city amenities with a rustic flair. While the population is just over 30,000, the amount of land within the city limits makes Juneau the largest city in America. Surrounded by mountains, wooded valleys, ocean and massive glaciers, Juneau is often referred to as America’s most beautiful capital city.
Just a few miles from downtown Juneau and Busses go regularly. Don’t miss a Visit to the Mendenhall Glacier & Visitors Center. Here the U.S. Forest Service staff, will share information on glaciers as you view this magnificent geologic phenomenon from the unobstructed vantage point. The Mendenhall Glacier is 1.5 miles wide and hundreds of feet thick and is fed by the 1,500 square mile Juneau Icefield. This meandering river of compressed ice ranks as the largest, most rugged glacier accessible by road.
“If you have time while at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center there is a beautiful scenic walking path that takes you closer to the waterfalls but is about 1.5 miles round trip walk.”- KV
Denali Park is home to North America’s highest mountain, Mt. McKinley, towering over 20,300 feet tall. The 6 million acre National Park will also give you one of your best opportunities to see Alaska’s wildlife such as grizzly bear, moose, wolves, Dall sheep and caribou. Denali Park is located about 240 miles north of Anchorage, about 5 ½ hours by road or 8 hours by train. The park is open year round, but the road into Denali Park and most visitor facilities are only open from mid-May through the third week in September.
Fairbanks is located in the heart of interior Alaska 370 road miles north of Anchorage, about eight hours by car. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city with over 80,000 residents in the greater Fairbanks area. Located near the confluence of the Tanana and Chena Rivers, the town was originally founded in the early 1900’s as a trading post serving stern-wheeler riverboats and early gold prospectors. The town still plays an important supply role in Alaska due to its proximity to the Arctic region and North Slope oil fields. Fairbanks typically enjoys long sunny days during the summer months, with temperatures frequently passing the 70 degree mark. Winters in Fairbanks are just the opposite, cold shorter days are the norm, which makes for excellent Northern Lights viewing.
Seward is known for its scenic views, numerous visitor attractions, and as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is located about 125 miles south of Anchorage, about 3 hours by road. Seward has over 3,000 year round residents; however that number swells considerably during the summer visitor season. The town is famous in Alaska for its Fourth of July celebration that features a grueling foot race to the top of the 3,000 foot Mt. Marathon.
Talkeetna is located approximately 115 road miles north of Anchorage, about 14 miles off the Parks Highway at the end of the Talkeetna Spur Road. This small distinctive community of less than 500 is often said to be the inspiration behind the television series “Northern Exposure”.
Kenai Fjords National Park -130 miles south of Anchorage lies the quaint seaside town of Seward, gateway to the magnificent Kenai Fjords National Park. Within the crystal green waters of the Fjords is an abundant array of tidewater and piedmont glaciers. Marine wildlife includes otters, sea lions, harbor seals, humpback and orca whales, porpoises, puffins and kittiwakes. Kenai Fjords National Park is most easily accessed by tour boat from Seward or by driving out to Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward. Wildlife and glacier exhibits are available at the Small Boat Harbor visitor center and the Alaska Sealife Center.
Skagway sits amid the imposing St. Elias Mountains as one of the most popular ports of call on the Inside Passage. Famous for the discovery of gold in the late 1800’s, With a current year-round population of less than 800, the true Skagway remains unchanged. A rugged land that inspired poet Robert Service and author Jack London, Skagway continues to welcome visitors today.
“My personal favorite activity in Skagway was the Scenic White Pass Railroad Cost Approx. $125.00 pp and took about 3 hrs It was absolutely worth it! Don’t forget your camera.” – KV
Board a vintage rail car and retrace the original route up to the Yukon’s White Pass Summit. The world-famous narrow gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad promises an unforgettable ride along the eastern side of the White Pass as you retrace the steps of early gold seekers. This iron trail was built over 100 years ago through some of the North’s most rugged terrain.
Whittier is a small town of about 400 residents located on the western edge of Prince William Sound in south central Alaska. Whittier was established during world war two as a military supply port. Today Whittier’s economy is comprised mainly of shipping and port related jobs, fishing and tourism. Recently, a number cruise lines have begun to use Whittier as a departure port for their Gulf of Alaska Cruises. Whittier is only 62 road miles southeast of Anchorage.
Things to do in Alaska
Alaska Bear Viewing- Northern Lights (Seen only in winter!)- Fly Fishing- Sea Plane and Helicopter Flight Seeing- Hiking Museums and Learn about Alaskan Native Heritage -Whale Watching- Rafting and Kayaking -Back Country Safari- ATV and Jeep Rentals- Salmon Bakes- Dog Sledding -Glacier Tours -Hatchery Tours- National Parks- Gold Panning- Scenic Railways
“No matter what you decide you want to see or do we can help recommend activities and even book it.” -KV