All You Need to Know About Visiting Alaska in August

Before my husband and I visited Alaska for the first time, we had no idea what to expect. Would there be snow? How warm would it get? What’s the weather like? What would we need to bring? Well, we visited Alaska in August and ended up having the trip of a lifetime!

Now I hope to share what we learned along the way, including any issues that might affect your vacation if you’re visiting Alaska in August.

We visited Alaska towards the end of August and the beginning of September and did an epic road trip that both started and ended in Anchorage. You can see our full Alaska road trip itinerary here.

You can also see a video summary of our trip to Alaska in the video below!

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And while our trip was mainly at the end of August, I’ll share information about what you can expect during the full month here. (I’ll also include some tidbits about September in case you’re visiting during shoulder season).

Let’s get to it!

Is August a good time to visit Alaska?

Yes, August is a great time to visit Alaska.

August is one of the warmer months to visit Alaska, as it’s right at the end of the summer. But peak season typically ends in mid-August, as the days do start getting a bit shorter, and the weather can become slightly chillier (depending on the year!) 

But this definitely shouldn’t put you off! After mid-August, it can be quieter, and almost all attractions remain open. There’s a chance of early snow in the far north or in areas with altitude, but most areas of Alaska are still mild throughout August.

If your trip extends into shoulder season, you may even find that you can get much cheaper deals in Alaska in late August and September. 

Is August a good month to visit Anchorage?

Anchorage’s southern position in Alaska makes it an excellent place to visit in August.

Temperatures usually rise to about 64F and usually don’t drop below 50F due to higher elevations. And when the sun is out, these temperatures make for perfect weather in my book!

You’ll find that Alaska is much chillier than the rest of the states. That makes it a great getaway if you’re trying to escape the heat. (We’re based in Dallas, which becomes a sweltering sauna come August!)

And a great thing about Anchorage in August is you won’t have any excursions canceled due to snow! The relatively warmer weather also makes it an ideal month to get out and explore the state. 

Bear in mind that the first half of August is still summer break for school kids. As a result, places in Anchorage can be a bit more expensive or even fully booked. So if you are visiting during this part of the month, we recommend booking far in advance.

On the other hand, if you can avoid traveling in the first half of the month, you might find it much more pleasant and cheaper to schedule your trip for late August. 

What is the weather like in Alaska in August?

Alaska is a huge state (bigger than many countries!) so, unsurprisingly, the weather can vary drastically depending on where exactly you are.

For example, it is usually around 64F in August in Anchorage and doesn’t usually dip below 50F. 

However, Fairbanks, which sits in the middle of Alaska, is usually a bit warmer. You’ll find temperatures around 67F in August, with lows in the high 40s. Its inland position can actually make it much warmer than Anchorage at times!

And, of course, the mountains can be even colder! So make sure that you’re prepared for all sorts of weather while you’re in Alaska in August – you might see snow or ice if you’re doing certain excursions (like hiking on glaciers), though it’s highly unlikely in the main towns, and areas most people end up exploring, like Anchorage, Fairbanks, the Kenai Peninsula, Valdez, and Southeast Alaska. 

How much daylight is in Alaska in August?

You can expect around 18 to 20 hours of daylight in Alaska in August. Plenty of time to see the beauty it offers you if you ask me! You may even get to experience one of the longest days during your visit to this state, which occurs between the months of March to September.

How rainy is Alaska in August?

Alaska is typically quite dry during the summertime, but it becomes rainier by August, with Anchorage experiencing 10 days of rain on average in August. Other areas like Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway are generally rainier all throughout the year!

However, while you should definitely go expecting some rain, know that you will probably have plenty of sunshine too!

Over our 11-day trip, we only had two days where it rained all day – both of the days that we spent in Homer. The rain let up a bit here and there, but it pretty much was nonstop.

On a few other days when we were in Valdez, Hope, and Seward, we experienced a few hours of rain, but not enough to deter any activities, for the most part.

If you’re hiking or have a helicopter tour or boat tour to cruise Alaska planned, you will want to pay attention to the weather forecast. Oftentimes, tours will be flexible and rescheduled if bad weather comes in.

Our hike to the Harding Icefield in Seward was cut short by some weather coming in, but, thankfully, it was the only big activity that was impacted by rain on our whole trip.

And one thing to note about rain in Alaska: when it rains during the day and then stops, you’re typically left with a stunning sunset that evening!

However, if you want to avoid the rain as much as possible, we recommend visiting earlier in the summer, in June or July. 

What are the best things to do in Alaska in August?

There are a ton of fun things to do in Alaska in August! 

Hike a glacier

The weather is still warm enough to enjoy hiking on Alaska’s many glaciers. There are over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska and they actually cover 5% of the state! One of the most popular is Exit Glacier, which has well-maintained trails to hike independently or with an experienced guide. But my favorite glacier to visit, hands down, is the stunning Matanuska Glacier.

Read about things you should know about the Matanuska Glacier here!

Additionally, here’s a list of the 17 coolest glaciers to visit in Alaska (pun intended!).

Watch Whales

Whale watching is a great activity to do in Alaska in August, which is in the middle of the recommended time of the year to go see them – which is late April to October or November. Whale-watching tours are offered in Juneau and near Glacier Bay, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot a number of whales as they inhabit the waters of the northern Inside Passage. Who knows, you may even get to see an orca out there!

Skiing

We didn’t try this ourselves, but skiing is possible during summer! You’ll just have to look for resorts that offer this activity, though don’t expect the experience to be the same when skiing during winter months. 

Glacier Bay National Park

As you might expect, many of Alaska’s glaciers are located in Glacier Bay National Park in southeast Alaska! This park is stunning, but it can be challenging to get to. You can do a boat tour or even join a flightseeing tour to see the spectacular scenery from above. 

Visit Anchorage 

While Anchorage isn’t the state capital (Juneau takes that crown!), it’s the biggest city by far, with a population of over 300,000. It’s a popular destination any time of year, but we found it to be perfect to fly in and out of in August. There are so many activities you can do in Anchorage, especially in August when the weather is still quite warm. 

It’s an exciting place to absorb the Alaskan culture, take in some museums, and try some traditional cuisine. In addition, it is usually cheaper to fly into Anchorage than other Alaskan cities, and it is an ideal starting point if you’re visiting national parks and other attractions in southern Alaska, including the stunning Denali National Park. 

Denali National Park

Home to the highest peak in North America, Denali National Park is a can’t-miss area of Alaska. It’s located close to Anchorage, so you can easily visit on a day or multi-day trip. 

You can do a bus tour that will show you around the park’s main sights, or you can go flightseeing. Only the most intrepid explorers travel up Denali Mountain itself, but you can enjoy epic views of it from ground level or by plane! Denali National Park is also one of the best spots to go to if you want to spot bald eagles around – so pay attention to your surroundings at all times!

One thing to note about visiting Denali National Park in August- and really any time of the year: don’t get your hopes up that you’ll get to see the famous mountain peak. More days than not, it’s shrouded by clouds. If you have your heart set on seeing Denali, plan a few days in the area. You also might get lucky and visit on a cloudless day!

Chugach State Park

Another park that’s right by Anchorage, Chugach State Park is one of the largest state parks in the USA. There are 280 miles of trails, with 16 trailheads, so it’s a wonderful place to go hiking. 

Visit Kodiak Island

Want to try something different? Visit Kodiak Island. You can head on to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to do bear viewing and even fishing, or to Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park to learn more about the island’s story during World War II.

Visit Valdez

Valdez is my favorite town in Alaska. It’s got the prettiest waterfalls, harbor, and small-town vibes. You can go hiking, boating (unless it’s too late in the season), visiting glaciers, and more! Check out my full list of the best things to do in Valdez here!

Bear Camp

Bear Camp is one of the most unique experiences that you can have in Alaska. It’s a luxury glamping experience that allows guests to view bears in their natural habitat. 

Open until the last week of August; you can only get there by booking a package with Great Alaska Adventures. They’ll take you on a small plane out to Lake Clark National Park, where Bear Camp is based, and you’ll spend a few nights in the wilderness, looking out for bears and other animals! This is also a great inclusion to your itinerary if you’re after fishing. You might get lucky and get a rainbow trout! In August, usually, it’s the pink, sockeye, or silver salmon that run or move upstream. King salmon run from late May to late July, so if you’re after that specific fish, you’ll need to book your trip to Alaska earlier than August (sorry!)

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is another famous national park close to Anchorage. Enjoy the glorious waters and the beautiful rocks of the fjords via a boat tour through the park. It’s home to the Harding Icefield hike and Exit Glacier, which are the only land areas in the park (the rest is accessible by boat). Seward is a great home base if you want to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. We stayed two nights at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay and absolutely loved the views and cozy bed-and-breakfast vibes!

See Fairbanks

Fairbanks is in the center of Alaska, which makes it typically warmer than Anchorage and a bit less rainy, too! There’s plenty to see and do here, including Pioneer Park, which details the history of Alaska and the fascinating museum of the north. From Fairbanks, you can enjoy Chena Hot Springs, a natural hot spring and relaxing place to pamper. You also have the opportunity to see the northern lights at the end of August, if you’re lucky! More about that later, though. Check out more things to do in Fairbanks here.

Do any activities close in August in Alaska?

One caveat to going to Alaska in August is that some excursions aren’t open at the very end of the month.

In fact, there are two in particular that typically close somewhere around the end of August: boat tours and glacier dog sled tours.

We ran into the issue of no boat tours in Seward or Valdez and no glacier dog sledding due to glacier conditions in late August.

However, for the most part, you should be able to do any summer activities (hiking, some glacier tours, normal helicopter tours, fishing, etc.) up until the very end of August and even into September.

(Helicopter tours can be pricey but they’re worth it if they’re within your budget. Check out this post on Alaska experiences that are worth paying for!)

Do wildflowers in bloom in Alaska in August?

Wildflower season in Alaska officially runs from mid-June until early to mid-August.

However, this can be very seasonal, particularly if the warmer temperatures begin late in the year. You might see wildflowers in Alaska in August, but they probably won’t be at peak bloom. 

That being said, we did see plenty of fireweeds as we drove along the Kenai Peninsula.

You actually might start seeing fall colors towards the end of August, depending on the weather! By the time September came around, we saw so many yellow trees in Denali National Park and inland around the Matanuska Glacier and Fairbanks.

What should I wear in Alaska in August?

As the weather can be unpredictable in Alaska in August, it’s a good idea to pack layers and bring lots of versatile clothing.

You probably won’t be wearing shorts while you’re there, but you should bring clothing like long pants, tees that you can layer, a light jacket, and a heavier jacket. I actually brought this wool sweater instead of a heavy coat and it was great!

Definitely pack a rain jacket! Here’s the one I’m wearing in a few of these photos. I love the pop of color on a cloudy Alaskan day!

Hiking gear is always good to bring since you’ll be getting out and exploring the outdoors. If you’re spending some time in the cities, you could bring some nicer clothes for the evening, but most travelers to Alaska pack more active garments. 

You’ll also want to bring comfortable shoes- one pair of hiking boots and a pair for walking around town. If you are planning any self-guided glacier tours, you might want to bring crampons so that you don’t slip on the ice.

We didn’t bring any, though, and had no issues visiting glaciers (as long as we walked very carefully).

If you plan to stay anywhere with a hot tub or expect to visit hot springs, bring a swimsuit as well.

Hats are your friend in Alaska! This is my favorite beanie– it keeps your head so warm and is not itchy at all! I have it in two colors (yellow and white) I love it that much.

Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses- you’d be surprised at how sunny it can get!

What wildlife can I see in Alaska in August?

In August in Alaska, the wildlife you could see includes grizzlies, black bears, marmots, humpback whales, moose, sheep, salmon, eagles, sea lions, sea otters, caribou, and much more.

Throughout our 11-day trip, we didn’t have as much luck with seeing wildlife as we thought we might.

We saw a couple of black bears from a distance on a hike, a moose and its calf from our helicopter tour, a marmot on a hike, and an eagle from our car. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than we did!

If you have your heart set on seeing brown bears (aka grizzly bears), a guaranteed way to see them is to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, right by Anchorage. We were so glad that we got to see some grizzly bears close up here! We captured both the moose and grizzly photos above at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Can you see the northern lights in Alaska in August?

If you’re staying in Fairbanks at the end of August or the beginning of September, you have a chance of seeing the northern lights.

It starts getting darker in Alaska in August, though you’ll still have longer days than most of the country, with sunrise at around 6:30 am and sunset at about 9:30 pm. By the end of the month, the darker night skies mean that seeing the northern lights is possible, although it’s quite rare everywhere except for Fairbanks.

Fairbanks is located directly under the Auroral Oval, which means it gets a lot of northern light activity. It’s the best place in Alaska to see the northern lights, which is why we booked a stay for two nights at Borealis Basecamp (pictured above). The more nights you spend there, the better your chances of seeing the lights! They usually recommend a three-night stay or more. We definitely lucked out seeing the lights on one of the two nights we were there (and on my husband’s birthday, no less!).

Generally speaking, you’re more likely to see the northern lights in Alaska in September as the days get shorter and the skies become darker.

We saw the northern lights on September 6th in Fairbanks, though they had recently had even better northern light activity a week prior at the end of August! It’s really hit or miss and depends on the weather as you need clear skies to see them.

One major tip: if you’re visiting on a clear night is to go ahead and take a long exposure photograph of the sky. Even if you don’t realize the northern lights are there, your camera can pick up the lights and reveal that they are, in fact, out! Then if you readjust your eyes, you might realize that the milky haze you’re seeing is actually the northern lights!

Are there any events or festivals in Alaska in August?

Yes, there are several festivals and events in Alaska in August.

Here are some to keep an eye out for: 

  • Alaska State Fair: Located in Palmer, just northeast of Anchorage, the Alaska State Fair runs from the middle of August to the beginning of September. It’s a fun state fair that is loved by locals and tourists alike! You’ll find noteworthy concerts, performances, and more happening this summer at the state fair!
  • Tanana Valley State Fair: This runs in the second week of August and is another one of the largest state fairs in Alaska. It’s a local favorite in Fairbanks and is a great place to visit for a fun Alaskan experience. 
  • Salmon and halibut derbies: These run from June to August, so keep an eye out for any later in the summer. They are competitions and events focused on the state’s plentiful supply of halibut and salmon. Fun fact: Homer is the halibut fishing capital of the world!
  • Salmonfest: They sure do like salmon in Alaska! But this is actually a music festival that runs in the first week of August. It’s hosted on the Kenai Peninsula.

What is the best month to visit Alaska?

Alaska’s peak season is from mid-June to mid-August. This is when the weather conditions are most favorable, and you’re more or less guaranteed to be able to enjoy Alaska’s beautiful nature.

Mid-June is also a very special time, as you have very long days, with about 20 hours of sunlight in Anchorage and even more up north, with 24 hours of sunlight in the far north. Naturally, this means that there are lots of events and festivals on offer!

However, as these months are the peak season, this does mean that they are incredibly busy and the prices can be a lot higher. If you don’t like crowds, want cheaper rates, and don’t mind a bit more unpredictability in the weather, you could choose to visit Alaska in the shoulder season instead. 

Check out this post for full details on the best time to visit Alaska and what you can expect each season!

In conclusion…

August is a great time to visit Alaska. Peak season continues right into mid-August for good reason: mild weather, all of Alaska’s summer activities, and beautiful landscapes.

If you’re visiting towards the end of the month, you might find colder temperatures and perhaps more rain, but also lower prices and even the chance to see the northern lights in Fairbanks.

We loved our trip to Alaska from the end of August into September! And, though I can’t predict or control the weather, I think that if you have a trip to Alaska in August, you will have an incredible experience.

Do you have any other questions about visiting Alaska in August? Drop them in the comments!

Safe travels,

Jasmine

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Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

6 Responses

  1. So beautiful! Did you find Alaska to be dog friendly? I am definitely thinking about going there for my 25th anniversary and we would probably be taking our pooch. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shayna!

      I think Alaska seems dog friendly (in fact, it seems like a dog’s paradise) but we don’t have a dog so we didn’t bring one. So I can’t speak from personal experience, but if I had a dog, I’d be tempted to bring him!

  2. Hi,

    Your pictures are gorgeous! Did you hire a photographer, or were you traveling with someone? I’m going to be going solo and would love to know how to get pictures like these. 🙂

    Thanks!

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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