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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Anchorage, Alaska in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Anchorage, Alaska in 2024

What's the best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska?

The best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska, is from June through August when the weather is great for exploring the outdoors. During these summer months, temperatures hover in the mid-60s, providing a comfortable climate for hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing. This season also boasts up to 18 hours of daylight, allowing visitors more time to experience Anchorage’s natural beauty and outdoor activities.

Anchorage, Alaska, is the gateway to the wilds of Alaska. Many people use the city as a base to explore the surrounding wilderness, such as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or the stunning landscapes of Chugach State Park.

Anchorage has a lot to offer, but how can you decide when to visit this city to save money and hopefully avoid the worst of Alaska’s notorious weather? This guide will help you with all your trip-planning essentials!

Overall Best Time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska

Gorgeous wooden boardwalk leading to the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary pictured during the overall best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska, with green vegetation and mist on the horizon

Chansak Joe/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska, is during the summer months, from June to August when the weather is the best for going on outdoor adventures.

When figuring out when the best time to visit Anchorage is, the weather is an important factor in your plans. Winters in Alaska are notoriously long and cold. While there is some charm in visiting during the winter, for visitors who are not used to the cold, it will be difficult to get around.

Summers in the city are not exactly hot, but temperatures are warmer than during the rest of the year. Average high temperatures are in the mid-60s, while low temperatures are usually around 50 degrees.

Although it isn’t warm by any means, it is warm enough to go hiking and on other outdoor explorations. Summers in Anchorage are also unique because of the length of the days.

The city is north enough to experience the seasonal variation of days. In the summer, you may get up to 18 hours of daylight and very short nights, meaning you have plenty of time to go hiking. Summer is also high season for one of the area’s most famous animals — salmon.

During the summer, thousands of salmon spawn in nearby Ship Creek. If you visit the area, you can see rivers full of fish. For those who want to go salmon fishing, summer is the best time to do so.

There are even competitions, such as the Slam’n Salmon Derby. Anchorage is nicknamed “The City of Lights and Flowers,” and you can see why during the summer. The city is full of gardens that are in full bloom.

Flowers are not the only things that bloom, and summer is peak season for fruit, including famous Alaskan blueberries. If you visit in August during peak blueberry season, you can even go blueberry picking

Summer in the city brings plenty of favorite local festivals. For a complete listing, check out the official Anchorage tourism board’s page telling visitors what’s happening each month.

Popular summer festivals include:

  • Summer Solstice Festival (June)
  • Pridefest (June)
  • Bear Paw Festival (July)
  • Girdwood Forest Fair (July)
  • Blueberry Festival (August)
  • Alaska State Fair (located in nearby Palmer, August–September)

Summer is definitely the most popular time to visit Anchorage, so expect plenty of other visitors while you are in town. With these many attractions, it is clear why the city is so popular during this time.

Cheapest Time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska

Partially frozen lake near Anchorage during the cheapest time to visit with snow on the mountains in the background of the image

Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Anchorage is during the late fall and winter, when the summer rush dies down and many hotels offer deals for visitors.

The city’s own tourist board mentions that there are more deals toward the end of fall and into winter, between November and March.

As the city is less in demand as a tourist destination, prices drop across the board to attract visitors who may be thinking about visiting Anchorage but were previously on the fence about it. The least expensive month to visit Anchorage is usually January.

The fall shoulder season is long gone, the holiday season is also over, and spring is still a long way away. Hotels and tour companies that stay open during this time usually offer discounts to visitors.

Winter does see some events happening in the city, and prices and crowds tend to go up during this time. The Iditarod, the world-famous dog race that happens in early March, is in high demand among visitors, and hotel prices usually go up accordingly.

Prices also increase around the Fur Rondy, a popular winter festival that happens at the end of February each year.

The event is so unique, with competitions including the Outhouse Races and the Running of the Reindeer, that it is worth it to pay a little bit more to visit during this festival and see the best of an Alaskan winter.

The good news is that flying into Anchorage is usually the least expensive way to get to Alaska, so you’re already saving money by choosing this city compared to others in the state.

There are several airlines flying into the airport, so prices are lower since they compete with one another. Always compare prices before buying.

Least Busy Time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska

Pictured during the least busy time to visit, snow on the ground in Anchorage in a city with a close-up of the road pictured at dusk

Anchorage, Alaska / USA – February 6, 2020: W 4th avenue downtown at dawn during winter. Empty city street; cars are parked. Hard Rock Cafe & other shops opening. Chugach Park at the back/Felipe Mahecha/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Anchorage is the winter, as many people avoid the bitterly cold winter weather. Just make sure to avoid the holiday season or famous Alaskan festivals that draw bigger crowds.

Although winters in the city are truly cold, if you brave the low temperatures, you’ll be rewarded with unique sights almost all to yourself. You may not be able to go hiking, but you can go skiing, snowshoeing, or even dog mushing.

Winter is also the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, a truly unique experience that you don’t want to miss. To check on expected crowds, you can look at the official Anchorage cruise ship schedule.

Since cruise ships are usually the most responsible for crowds, the least busy time to visit is when there are no cruise ships scheduled. Between mid-October and mid-April, there are few, if any cruise ship arrivals.

Worst Time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska

Pictured during the worst time to visit Anchorage, Alaska, a crowded farmer's market seen in downtown

Anchorage, Alaska, United States – August 17, 2019: Alaskans and tourists shop at the Alaska Farmer’s Market in downtown Anchorage on a hot summer day; tents and booths are seen in background/Jay Juno/Shutterstock

While for many people the worst time to visit Anchorage is in the winter, if you dislike crowds, then the worst time will be the summer.

Winter in Anchorage can get heavy, especially in January when you don’t have the holiday lights or February festivals to brighten your days. Daylight is short, and the weather is very cold.

Unless you are prepared for the cold, the savings may not be worth it. However, some people consider summer the worst time to visit since the crowds are unbearable.

Thousands of day trippers from cruise ships flood the fairly small city and make lines for popular attractions unbearable. To make the most of good weather but beat the crowds, visit during the shoulder season, such as May or September.

Anchorage by Month: Climate & Activities

Gorgeous view of the Northern Lights pictured shimmering high in the sky above Anchorage during the overall best time to visit


Still unsure about the best time to visit Anchorage? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:


Winter temperatures in Anchorage range from -8 to -4°C (18-25°F). January is perfect for winter sports like skiing and dog sledding in the Chugach Mountains. Visitors can also enjoy the Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter Train and explore the Anchorage Museum.


Similar to January, February maintains cold temperatures between -8 to -3°C (18-26°F). It’s an excellent time for ice fishing on nearby lakes, attending the Fur Rendezvous Festival, and viewing the Northern Lights in the clear winter skies.


As spring begins, temperatures range from -6 to 1°C (21-34°F). March is ideal for experiencing the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and enjoying cross-country skiing in Kincaid Park.


Spring temperatures in Anchorage range from 1 to 7°C (34-45°F). It’s an ideal time for wildlife viewing at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, exploring the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and attending the Anchorage International Film Festival.


May sees temperatures ranging from 6 to 14°C (43-57°F). It’s a great month for hiking in Chugach State Park, biking along the Coastal Trail, and attending the Alaska Summer Showcase to plan outdoor adventures.


Summer arrives with temperatures between 10 to 19°C (50-66°F). June offers opportunities for fishing in Ship Creek, exploring the Alaska Botanical Garden, and attending the Girdwood Forest Fair.


July maintains mild temperatures from 12 to 21°C (54-70°F). It’s a popular month for salmon fishing in nearby rivers, hiking in Flattop Mountain, and enjoying the Independence Day celebrations and fireworks.


Temperatures in August range from 10 to 18°C (50-64°F). It’s an excellent time for wildlife cruises in Prince William Sound, exploring the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and attending the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.


As fall begins, temperatures range from 5 to 13°C (41-55°F). September offers a pleasant transition, with opportunities for berry picking in local parks, hiking in Chugach State Park, and enjoying the fall foliage.


October sees temperatures ranging from -1 to 5°C (30-41°F). It’s a great month for attending the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, exploring the Alaska Aviation Museum, and preparing for winter activities.


Fall temperatures range from -7 to -2°C (19-28°F). November is perfect for enjoying the Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Winter Train, visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and experiencing the festive atmosphere during the Holiday Tree Lighting


Winter returns with temperatures ranging from -8 to -3°C (18-26°F). December brings opportunities for winter sports like ice skating and snowmobiling, exploring the Anchorage Lights display, and celebrating the holiday season.

Things to Consider

Picturesque view from the side of a scenic railroad at the top of a mountain with the train going over the bridge for a guide to the best and worst times to visit Anchorage, Alaska

Martina Birnbaum/Shutterstock

Here are a few additional tips for planning your visit to Anchorage:

  • Early spring is very muddy as the snow melts from the surrounding mountains. May allows you to beat the crowds, but also get good weather.
  • Wildlife viewing is best in summer and in the fall. Fall is rutting season for moose, and many other animals prepare for winter hibernation.
  • No matter when you come, bring layers. Summer can also get chilly in Anchorage. Plus, the weather is very volatile, so pack a waterproof layer.
  • Bring bug spray for the summer. Alaskans joke that their unofficial state bird is their mosquito, and any wilderness activity without bug spray gets uncomfortable fast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman in jeans and a green vest sitting on a wooden park bench during the best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska, the spring, looking at the awe-inspiring marsh in front of her

Vineyard Perspective/Shutterstock

Here are some other common questions that people ask about timing their visit to Anchorage:

What’s the best month to visit Anchorage, Alaska?

The best month to visit the city is May, when you can enjoy good weather but avoid the crowds of peak season in the summer.

What is the best month to see Alaska?

May is also the best time to see the rest of Alaska, not just Anchorage. The weather warms up enough that you can go exploring, and the mud from the snowmelt is over.

How many days do you need to see Anchorage?

Three days is enough to see Anchorage and the immediate surrounding areas. If you are using Anchorage as a base for trips to other parts of Alaska, you will need longer.

What is the rainy season in Alaska?

Summer, starting in mid-July, gets a lot of rain in Anchorage. However, the worst months for rain are September and October.

What is the most expensive month to go to Alaska?

July is the most expensive month to go to Alaska. Demand goes up due to the weather and the fact that families can take their kids along due to summer vacation, and businesses increase their prices accordingly.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska?

The best time to visit Anchorage is during the summer, when the weather is the best for hiking and outdoor explorations. To beat the crowds but still enjoy good weather, visit in May, while the winter has the lowest crowds and prices. Happy travels!