When is the best time to visit Anchorage?

The best time to plan a trip to Anchorage really depends on the activities you want to do and how well you cope with cold weather. The best time to visit, weather-wise, is June to August when you can expect clear skies, mildish weather and long daylight hours which is great for hiking and exploring the great outdoors. That said, summer sees the biggest influx of tourists and hotel prices can spike. The sweet spot is the shoulder season from March to May when crowds are thin and the weather is getting better – although it might still feel chilly if you're not a local! You may also experience muddy slush with melting snow and ice, but it's generally good enough to get out and explore.

Weather in Anchorage

Anchorage is located in Alaska's Southcentral region and has a subarctic climate. This means it's cool to cold throughout the year. Even in high June, when the sun is out almost 19 hours a day, you can expect highs to hover around 18°C (65°F) and drop to around 10°C (50°F) in the evening. If winter wonderland landscapes and cold weather are what you're looking for, you’ll be in your element in the cold months from December through February when temperatures often drop below freezing and the mountains are covered in snow. 

Average temperatures in Anchorage

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°F)  

AVERAGE LOW (°F)  

January 

23

14

February

26.6

17.6

March

32

19.4

April

42.8

32

May 53.6 42.8
June  59 50
July 62.6 55.4
August  60.8 53.6
September 55.4 46.4
October  42.8 33.8
November  28.4 19.4
December  24.8 15.8

Spring

Best for: wildlife watching (especially grey whales), wildflowers 

Spring is a great time to see whales and other marine life when they return to feed in the rich waters surrounding Anchorage. You can also see adorable moose calves coming out of their dens in the tundra, and bears are more active. Cold, wintery weather lingers in early spring, but as the season progresses there are many clear days with little to no rainfall. One thing to note about spring is that it can be very muddy due to rapid snowmelt, especially in April, so take extra care if you're out hiking. 

Summer

Best for: hiking, cycling, wildlife spotting, festivals 

The weather is mild in summer and there are up to 20 hours of daylight around the solstice, making it prime time for hiking, cycling and exploring Alaska’s great outdoors. The downside of summer is that it coincides with the peak season when cruise ships arrive carrying thousands of tourists. You might end up paying more for hotels or find it hard to get a room unless you book in advance. However, there's no denying that summer is a fantastic time to encounter wildlife – from salmon returning to the waters en masse to beluga whales swimming close to the shore to hunt. Anchorage also has a sizzling festival calendar with a seven-day Pride festival in June, the renowned Spenard Jazz Fest and  Alaska State Fair.

Fall

Best for: seeing the northern lights, hiking, fall colours

Fall experiences a fair amount of rain and average highs drop by 10 to 20 degrees, so you'll need to make sure you bring plenty of warm layers and a waterproof coat. That being said, you’ll miss the summer crowds and hotel prices tend to level out. The northern lights start appearing again as the days draw in earlier, but if this natural wonder is on your bucket list, you should visit at the end of fall or winter when you have a better chance of seeing it. One of the best parts of fall is the foliage that adds vibrant patches of bright yellow, red and orange to the landscapes in places like Chugach State Park, Eagle River and Psalm Lake in Chugiak. You'll have the most amazing backdrop for hiking and cycling, but just be mindful to plan ahead to ensure you're back before nightfall. 

Winter

Best for: skiing, snowshoeing, mushing, seeing the northern lights

Winter is the quietest time in Anchorage for tourism, but there’s still plenty going on. Thanks to heavy snowfall, it’s a great time to do winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and mushing (dogsledding with huskies). It’s also the best time of year to see the magical northern lights. Accommodation is more widely available and rates are usually a bit cheaper, and there are some amazing winter festivals including the Anchorage International Film Festival. It's also a good time to rug up and enjoy the city's cosy pubs, restaurants and craft breweries. 

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