10 Reasons to Visit Alaska in September

I know a lot of folks love to visit Alaska in the summer. I get it, the constant daylight, thousands of tourists and all the mosquitos you can swat at really do make your trip extra special! But if you ask me, a LIFELONG Alaksan, what the best time to visit Alaska is I will tell you my honest answer, September. I know summer is Alaska is highly sought after and considered by many to be the best time to visit, but you can’t beat Septemeber for its sheer perfection. I won’t give away my entire post of 10 Reasons to Visit Alaska in September in the first paragraph, but I will keep this post short and sweet.

10 Reasons to Visit Alaska in September

  1. A severe lack of tourists-Alaskan roads become clogged in the summer with motorhomes and campers, many of them tourists getting in and out before the route through Canada receives snow. So by September, those people are gone. Tourist buses and cruises are slowing down as well. Alaskans know that September is the time to enjoy their state. Don’t get me wrong we appreciate it all year long, but September is like the last hurrah before it gets cold.
  2. Shoulder Season Rates-YES! Many places switch to cheaper winter rates by September. It’s not winter, but it’s definitely not the high season either. Look for lower prices on hotels, the railroad, car and motorhome rentals, and attractions around the state.
  3. Weather-I’m not going to guarantee that the weather will be nice but in my experience, 48 years mind you, September is a glorious month. When the sun is out, it stays out, for weeks at a time. We always joke that the weather in the summer may be crappy, but once the kids go back to school, the sun will come out.
  4. Daylight-By Septemeber 21st the days have evened out to 12/12 daylight and dark. It’s so much more pleasant to have light when you expect it. I know a lot of visitors get out of whack with our 20 hours of daylight in May/June/July. September has none of that nonsense.
  5. Sunsets-The sunsets in August and September are some of the best. I don’t know why maybe it’s the angle of the sun, or that it’s actually at a time we can get out and enjoy it, but WOW they are fabulous! And don’t miss the AlpenGlow either!
  6. Aurora-You CAN see the Aurora in September; it’s happening now! Once the skies get dark, you can see the Northern LIghts. Our nights are cold and crisp but not freezing so nighttime viewing is extremely pleasant. Be sure to check the Aurora Tracker to see what your vacation plans hold!
  7. No bugs-The mosquitos are usually gone by September. We occasionally have little black flies but they mostly just buzz around annoyingly. No need for big spray, head nets or slapping yourself silly.
  8. No winter gear-Sure it’s cold and crisp, but if you’re coming for a visit, you probably won’t need snow gear. If you plan to climb a mountain or go north of say, Fairbanks, you may need snow gear but for the most part, follow my easy list of What to Pack for Alaska, and you’ll be fine.
  9. Animals– One of the nicest things about September is that bears are fat and passive. They spend their days eating berries and preparing to hibernate, so they’re not in a Spring Hanger Rage after hibernation. Moose as well are a lot more chill in the fall, in fact, it’s hunting season, so they seem to stay scarce. Beware of places people hunt, wear bright colors and always carry pepper spray on walks and hikes in Alaska.
  10. Fall in the air-Sure the East Coast may be famous for their foliage, but they don’t have Alaska’s glorious mountains dressed in lime cottonwoods and golden birches and set off by spruce. It’s different and lovely, especially after frost hits. The smaller brush and plants color themselves are well in yellows, oranges, and great reds. There’s a tang in the air too, don’t worry that’s just Highbush Cranberries ripening and making us all remember to pick some for winter jelly.

 

There is nothing quite like a drive in September in Alaska when fresh snow on the mountains makes the air crisp, and the highbush cranberries fill it with their unmistakeable smell. With the roads to yourself, the small towns of Alaska lie like jewels dotted along the highway, seemingly made just for you, so be sure to stop in and say hi.

Here are my other Alaska Posts:

You Know it’s Summer in Alaska When

100+ Things to Love About Palmer Alaska

Are You Prepared for a Trip to Alaska-What to Pack

What Not to Pack for Your Trip to Alaska

Alaska with Kids

 

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10 Reasons to Visit Alaska in September