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Vacation in Alaska: The Natural Beauty of America

Snow,  northern lightsglaciers,  national parksbreathtaking nature, and wild animals—Alaska is all of this. The short summers in Alaska are as colorful as the long winters are white. In summer, it starts to bloom everywhere here. Therefore, whether spring, summer, autumn, or winter, Alaska is a real dream destination for nature lovers and active vacationers. It is also the cradle of the  United States, because Alaska was the first part of North America where people settled on the continent. 

Check out these other recommended destinations for the best deals to make a perfect vacation. Moreover, our content marketing lead, David Greer, recently traveled to Alaska and shared a ton of tips and tricks on how to plan your own trip there below.

Best Time to Travel to Alaska

As far as the climate in Alaska is concerned, many probably think of an eternal refrigerator. Covered by a thick layer of snow and frost, but that's not the case at all. Even in the short but crisp summer, the 90°F mark can be cracked here. In addition, Alaska is very complex when it comes to the weather and can be divided into three different climate zones.

Temperate Oceanic Climate in Alaska

The temperate oceanic climate can be found on the south and east coast of the Pacific in Alaska. Summers here are relatively cool, averaging just 50°F to 60°F, but winters are significantly less severe than in the rest of the state. Even in winter, temperatures on the Alaskan coast do not drop below 10°F and can rise above freezing during the day.

Continental Climate in Alaska

In the middle of the country, it becomes rich in contrast. The summers here are short, but extremely beautiful. The thermometer can rise above 90°F here in summer. On the other hand, the winters are also very cold. Down to -58°F is not uncommon here. There is also snowfall from October to April.

Subarctic Climate in Alaska

The third climate zone in Alaska is north of the Brooks Range Mountains and the weather here is determined by the arctic air masses. An icy Alaskan winter reigns here for up to nine months. The summers are short and also very cool because the temperatures are only between a maximum of 40°F and down to 23°F. There may also be snowfall and frost. During the winter nights, the temperatures are around -65°F and during the day there is a maximum of -4°F. Due to the frosty air, there is hardly any precipitation in winter, this falls during the short summer months.

In terms of climate, the best time to travel to Alaska is from early July to mid-August. There are mild temperatures and the national parks are open. The streets are also completely passable. However, you have to deal with a lot of mosquitoes. Especially since the prices rise during the high season. June is an alternative, you can still travel to Alaska in May and September, but some sights are still closed or already closed again.

  • High season: July - August

  • Best travel month: June

  • Alternative: May & September

Best Time to Go to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

Dress warmly to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska because, for example, in the Anchorage area, they can be seen between September and March. The ideal conditions for this are a clear and cold night and a hut outside the city to have as little light pollution as possible. The light of the full moon can also limit the luminosity of the dancing lights in the sky. For example, the Eagle River Nature Center is a popular viewing spot. Accommodations in the northern lights active zone are for example the Matanuska Lodge or the Sheep Mountain Lodge. With cross-country skis or snowmobiles you then go into the wilderness to observe and marvel at the natural spectacle.

Alaskan Summer

Summer in Alaska is short but beautiful, as the entire state comes alive and the mild temperatures awaken nature and its people. However, summer is also the high tourist season in Alaska, which is why the price level is also higher. It's still worth it because here you can discover wilderness as you find it in picture books.

In Alaska, there are more animals than people and more glaciers than traffic lights. You will experience seemingly endless valleys, wild river courses surrounded by gigantic mountain ranges, narrow canyons, and Nordic rainforest. Alaska is home to more than 3,000 rivers, three million lakes, and 17 of the tallest mountains in the United States. An absolute must for every nature lover and everyone who wants to become one.

In Southwest Alaska, between the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, lies "Bear Country". Here you can watch the brown giants as they roam the forests and rivers hunting for salmon in the summer. On Kodiak Island, summer is the season for kayaking trips along the coast, and in southern Alaska, summertime offers the contrast between metropolitan Anchorage and the wilderness, such as Kenai Fjords National Park, teeming with whales, seals, and cute otters, to discover particularly well. An absolute natural wonder is of course the famous Denali National Park with the impressive Mount McKinley. Southeast Alaska has a mild climate in summer, which is reflected in the lush green Pacific rainforest, as well as in the crystal-clear fjords, as well as the whales, sea lions and bald eagles to be found - the symbol of the USA.

Clothing for Alaska in Summer

Proper clothing is also extremely important in Alaska in the summer. It is best to go with the onion look (layers, onions have layers), as it can be fresher in the morning and in the evening, but the temperatures climb higher during the day. The be-all and end-all are good and very comfortable hiking shoes, here you can also invest a little more money in advance because if your feet hurt after day one, you won’t get anything from your whole Alaska vacation. Half-hiking shoes for the more relaxed routes are also an option. Of course, the shoes should be absolutely waterproof. The same applies to the rain jacket, which should also be breathable. Short and long pants also belong in the luggage, as well as one sufficient collection of t-shirts and hoodies and/or fleece jackets for your onion look.

Rain pants are recommended for hiking on rainy days. A comfortable backpack that fits well is also a must so that you can stow everything away and don't get back pain. Nothing to wear, but definitely with you in summer: the mosquito spray! Anti-hum is a good choice here. The spray is well tolerated, doesn't stink as much as some others, and still successfully devalues ​​the mosquitoes.

Alaska in Winter

Don't be afraid to go on vacation to Alaska in the winter, because as the saying goes? There is no such thing as cold weather, just the wrong clothes. In addition, winter is a time when tourists are scarce in Alaska and prices are significantly lower. Do you really want to warm up in the icy temperatures? Then you should pay a visit to the Chena Hot Springs Resort, about 60 miles from Fairbanks. There you can relax in the hot sulfur springs surrounded by a blanket of glittering snow.

If you are traveling with children to the hot springs in Chena, you should note that children are only allowed in the springs from the age of 16 years, as the water is almost 100°F hot - all year round. As an alternative, there is a heated outdoor and indoor pool, which is a pleasant 90°F. The northern lights can also be observed from here when they light up the sky.

Of course, skiing and snowboarding are also part of the Alaskan winter. Snow and ski paradise Girdwood is just a 50-minute drive from Anchorage. Alaska locals just love strapping something under their feet, which is why ice skating is also a popular pastime. In the winter, Westchester Lagoon freezes over and you can fly over the ice surrounded by trees and scenic mountain views. The Westchester Lagoon is also just 2 miles from Anchorage. In Fairbanks, you can see beautiful ice art in the George Horner Ice Park. Another advantage of a winter vacation in Alaska? The northern lights of course!

Clothing for Alaska in Winter

Winter clothing for Alaska means layering. The bottom layer of your clothing, long johns and/or long-sleeved shirts, should not be made of cotton but of synthetic fabrics. A fleece sweater or fleece jacket can be worn over this, as well as long trousers. A really thick and waterproof winter jacket is essential. Snowboard or ski jackets are best. Waterproof ski/snowboard pants are also an advantage and keep you warm.

In addition, you can simply take them off when you are in a restaurant and the trousers worn underneath are revealed. You should also invest in warm winter boots. Warm feet are the absolute be-all and end-all in Alaskan winter. These should be suitable for at least -4°F and for up to -40°F. Add two pairs of synthetic fabric socks and voíla, you're set. Mittens are better suited as gloves because here the fingers keep each other warm. Add a scarf and hat and you're all set.

The Main Attractions in Alaska

Sure, Alaska is a single sight in itself and actually, there is something to admire everywhere. But we still wanted to share our absolute highlights with you.

  • Denali National Park and of course Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America and thus one of the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on the seven continents.

  • Make sure to also visit Glacier Bay National Park, where you can find over 50 named, giant glaciers

  • The Kodiak Island includes the famous Kodiak Bears. You can only reach this archipelago by seaplane

  • Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is home to just 32,000 people, but you still have a lot to offer here

  • Tracy Arm Fjord is one of Alaska's most famous attractions and is just 12 miles from Juneau.

  • Glamping under the Alaskan Northern Lights

Glacier Bay National Park

Your wildest Alaskan dreams will come true in Glacier Bay National Park. Take a boat tour along Glacier Bay to see dramatic ice walls, sheer fjord walls, and ice floes where seals make themselves comfortable. If you're lucky, you might even see humpback whales. The icing on the cake is the 15,000-foot Mount Fairweather in the background. Almost 200 years ago, the bay did not even exist. Everything was buried under a 4,000-foot thick layer of ice, meanwhile, forests and wildflowers conquer the barren rock faces and bears have also made themselves comfortable here. Tours through the nature reserve are offered from the village of Gustavus at the southern entrance to the bay. You can get here with a ferry service from Juneau. Although the national park is open all year round, it can only be visited to a very limited extent in winter. Anytime between late May and early September.

Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island is an island separated from the south coast of Alaska by the Shelikof Strait. Kodiak Island, popular with anglers, has a very special highlight, namely up to 1,500 lbs heavy and extremely impressive bears, which are native here. With a seaplane, the animals can be observed from a safe distance while hunting for salmon. Russian history can also be found on Kodiak Island, as Alaska was part of the Tsarist Empire for almost 1,000 years. Here you can discover onion domes, architecturally reminiscent of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow. However, Russian has hardly spoken here anymore, but French is all the more spoken because of the proximity to Canada. So pay a visit to the delicious patisseries and fill your stomach with tasty sandwiches and sweet cakes - maybe one of the reasons why the bears are so fat here. You can get to Kodiak Island either by seaplane from Homer, or by ferry.

Juneau

Juneau is the remote capital of Alaska, resting at the foot of the 4,500-foot Mount Roberts and Mount Juneau. What's special about Juneau? Accessible only by boat/ferry or seaplane, the city is arguably one of the few capital cities in the world with no road connection to the outside world. Surrounded by the beautiful Gastineau Channels, Juneau itself is a jumble of Victorian homes and relics from the early 19th century Gold Rush days. There is also a gondola that takes you up the mountain. Here you can see the view from Red Dog Saloon or in the traditional bar of the Alaskan Hotel. Access is via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, and Alaska Airlines also flies to Juneau several times a day during the summer.

Tracy Arm Fjord

Almost 50 miles south of Juneau you will find the Tracy Arm Fjord, which can be reached by day trip from Juneau. Here it is as adventurous as it is beautiful. A combination of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and icebergs will greet you here. You may even see pieces of the glacier breaking off and crashing into the water. Sawyer Glacier's ice chunks range in size from a small vehicle to a ferry - a truly mesmerizing spectacle. The water here is almost 600 feet deep, so the ice chunks don't break completely, but push each other to make the biggest one forming the iceberg of Alaska.

With the Camper through Alaska

Why should you definitely consider an RV tour of Alaska? Because you can experience absolute freedom. Fully booked accommodation? No problem, you always have your accommodation with you. Insanely great natural sites all to yourself? Be the first on-site and enjoy the sight all to yourself. Especially since Alaska is generally designed for campers and motorhome travel. There are campsites along the main roads of the country, which are equipped with electricity and water supply. Wild camping is also allowed - except in most national parks. However, you should leave nature exactly as you find it.

Which RV to Rent for Alaska?

Basically, choosing the right RV for Alaska depends on the number of travelers. Up to three people can be accommodated in a compact camper van. Due to the maneuverability and mobility, said camper vans are also well suited for the city and the fuel consumption is also limited. Even on narrow streets and in heavy city traffic, driving is pleasant and relaxed. As far as the sleeping places are concerned, the seating groups in camper vans often have to be converted into beds, but there are also variants with a hi-top or pop-up roof.

For larger groups or families, an RV, a so-called motorhome, is best suited, as it is more spacious and more comfortable. Up to five people can be accommodated in such an RV. However, you should be aware that such motorhomes are rarely shorter than 22 feet and are therefore a decent size. However, many models are with automatic transmissions, so that you no longer have to worry about shifting at least. The facilities included a shower and a kitchen.

What Should You Consider When Taking an RV Tour of Alaska?

In summer it can still be light after midnight in Alaska, so sleeping masks are mandatory on a motorhome tour, and other options for darkening the motorhome are also recommended. You should also keep in mind that you are in the middle of the wilderness and sometimes hundreds of miles away from the nearest human soul, so you should equip yourself properly. For example, buy an ax on-site to chop firewood, a rope, insulating tape, and a sturdy tarpaulin (no, we are not planning murder here). Magnesium torches and of course mosquito spray should also be on the shopping list. Before you embark on long journeys, you should of course always fill up the tank and take a spare canister with you. You should always hide food in an odor-proof manner, otherwise, bears can be attracted. Travel health insurance for Alaska should also be on the "to do" list, since injuries usually require a plane to be evacuated and that can be expensive. Anchorage is recommended for the start of your mobile home tour through Alaska since the groceries are comparatively cheap here.

Traffic Rules in Alaska

  • Drive carefully, many roads are in poor condition (due to permafrost)

  • Seatbelt obligation

  • Dipped headlights must also be used during the day

  • Top speed city: 35mph

  • Maximum speed country road: 55 mph

Road Trip through Alaska

Of course, there are tons of national parks, sleepy towns, as well as small and large natural wonders that you should not miss in Alaska. Actually, so many that one could almost speak of traveling to this fascinating corner of the world several times. For those of you flying up north for the first time, we've put together an Alaska itinerary that takes you to great spots like Denali National Park.

Route for Two to Four Weeks

After you've stocked up on everything you need in Anchorage, it's off to the Kenai Peninsula. You can make the first stop at Cooper Landing. A beautiful and bright blue lake awaits you here, which invites you to go fishing and hiking. From Cooper Landing, we continue to Seward & Exit Glacier National Park, which is also located on the Kenai Peninsula. Seward is a cute little town, which is slightly sleepy right on the sea. It is the base for great hikes to the glacier and Lost Lake. You should plan 6 to 8 hours (round trip) for the hike to the glacier, the hike to Lost Lake takes a whole day.

Our last stop on the peninsula is the cute coastal town of Homer. There are great campsites right on the beach. If you're lucky, you can even spot whales here on a boat trip to Kachemak Bay. In addition, bear tours are also offered, where you can marvel at the brown giants from a safe distance. From Homer we go to Denali National Park - yes, that's where we all want to go! We have already told you what there is to discover there. To stock up on supplies, make a stop in Fairbanks before heading back into the wild. Your last stop before heading back to Anchorage is in Willow Creek, which is at the entrance to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is located. Here it is again hiking, hiking, hiking, and marveling at glaciers. Let's summarize:

  • Anchorage : 1 - 2 days (buy supplies, get RV or rental car)

  • Cooper Landing : 1 - 2 days

  • Seward & Exit Glacier National Park : 2 - 3 days

  • Homer : 2 - 5 days depending on the weather

  • Denali National Park : 3 - 6 days

  • Fairbanks : 1 day

  • Willow Creek : 2-3 days

Fishing Vacation in Alaska

Alaska is a true paradise for a fishing vacation. There are over 30 different species of fish in the rivers, lakes, and sea. Here the fishing enthusiasts among you, or those who want to become one, can enjoy the complete tranquility of Alaska and land one or the other large chunk without people. It doesn't matter whether you simply rent a boat, simply pull up to the side of the road on a round trip by car and sit on the shore, or stay in a wilderness lodge - there is something for everyone. Due to its size, Alaska is divided into five administrative regions (Department of Fish and Game).

The Best Places to Fish in Alaska

Of course, the island regions of Alaska are best suited for fishing vacations. Just an hour's flight from Anchorage, Kodiak Island is a haven for salmon, rainbow, and steelhead trout, char, and halibut. Everything is possible here. Get off the plane straight to the side of the road and start fishing, explore remote areas by seaplane, or cruise out in peace and quiet by boat - whatever you prefer. When the light hits the water surface at the right angle, you'll see the mass of fish found here. A great spot, for example, is the Aaykulik River, in the southwest of the island. A short seaplane flight will get you there.

Unalaska, part of the Aleutian chain of islands, is also known for its abundance of fish and lack of people. Here you can find gigantic halibut. The record fish that was caught here weighed a full 440 lbs (!!). Tours with Kingfisher are highly recommended here.

Do you want to fish for the famous and delicious Alaskan salmon? Then you should orientate yourself to the best fishing times. The best time to fish for Chinook salmon is between late May and mid-July. From the beginning of July to mid-August is the time for sockeye salmon and from the end of July to the end of August you can catch silver salmon.

What you should definitely pay attention to is the fishing license that you need as a non-local. This is available in almost every grocery store, sports shop, supermarket, or at a charter boat rental.

Cost of a fishing license

  • 1 day: $20

  • 3 days: $35

  • 7 days: $55

  • 14 days: $80

  • Annual license: $145

Vacation in Alaska with Kids

Alaska is a great place to vacation with kids. Where else can you experience such endless freedom and pure nature? In addition, teenagers get a proper internet detox. But the addiction to the smartphone is quickly forgotten with the fascinating animal world. In addition, a cozy BBQ at the campfire and the little ones and big ones will be fire, flame, and marshmallows.

What Should You Consider when Vacationing in Alaska with Children?

Of course, clothing is also the be-all and end-all for your kids. Care should be taken to wear breathable and waterproof outdoor clothing so that you don’t catch a cold due to excessive sweating or freezing. The onion look is also important so that the kiddies can dress or undress depending on the movement. You should also avoid long journeys. Calculate several stopovers and don't drive longer than 3 to 4 hours at a time, otherwise, it will quickly become boring. Since it is definitely more expensive in the high season and the accommodations are often fully booked, a camping holiday is recommended, which is fun for everyone and is significantly less stressful.

For your arrival you can not avoid a flight, although there are also direct flights from Frankfurt, it is still advisable to take a flight with a stopover so that your children can get used to the time change and you can stretch your feet. A big plus about Alaska is that it's extremely family-friendly. The locals are laid back, in tune with their surroundings, and enjoy children. All restaurants offer child-friendly menus and the little ones are immediately provided with crayons and paper for creative expression. Most apartments also have a kitchen, so you can save money and cook for yourself if you decide not to go camping.

Important: If you are considering visiting a sled dog farm, be aware that these are not quiet, cuddly dogs. Huskies have a lot of energy, are extremely lively, and, out of sheer joy, like to rush toward visitors. So your children shouldn't be scared of over-excited dogs.

Otherwise, nothing stands in the way of your vacation in Alaska with children in your luggage!

Log Cabins in Alaska

A nice alternative for a night that shouldn't be spent in a tent or camper is log cabins made of wood. These so-called cabins are distributed throughout Alaska and are a cosy, rustic dream that are also great for travel in winter. Imagine an evening around the crackling campfire, wrapped in a cozy blanket with steaming and sugary cocoa in hand. It doesn't get any better than that, does it? We have picked out our top four accommodations in Alaska for you, which are not only affordable, but also bring variety.

Cozy Alaskan Log Cabin

This authentic log cabin is located just five minutes from downtown Fairbanks and is still surrounded by nature. Enjoy views of Creamer's Field Waterfowl Refuge and spot the Northern Lights in winter.

  • For a maximum of 4 people

  • Total $75 per night

  • Basic equipment (towels, bed linen)

  • Central heating

  • Grill

Gingerbread Log Cabin

This cabin is located in the chic Hillside area of ​​Anchorage. In the accommodation, which is very similar to a gingerbread house, you will find plenty of peace and you can be downtown in just 15 minutes.

  • For a maximum of 4 people

  • Total $59 per night

  • WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

  • Basic equipment (towels, bed linen)

  • kitchen

Alaskan Yurt

Treat yourself to a few nights in a typical nomadic Mongolian yurt, converted for Alaskan standards! You are surrounded by nature and get to know rural life in Alaska. Enjoy the absolute peace.

  • For a maximum of 2 people

  • Total $72 per night

  • 1 bedroom

  • Toilet & sink

  • Chimney

  • Heating

  • Breakfast included

  • Kitchen

Family Vacation Home

There's room for the whole family here! This chic log cabin can be found in Anchorage's Hillsides. Enjoy the great landscape and the great hiking trails where you can work out. In addition, you can have a great view of the mountains.

  • For a maximum of 6 people

  • Total $1,250 per night

  • 2 bedrooms / 3 beds

  • 1 bathroom

  • WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

  • Basic equipment (towels, bed linen)

  • Kitchen

  • Heating

We've come to an end of our travel tips for your next vacation in Alaska. We hope you have found pleasure in this unique and fantastically beautiful place and are properly equipped with the necessary know-how. Whether you choose summer or winter Alaska, camping, an RV, or log cabins, there's something for everyone. We say:

Ahoy and set sail!