When to Go?
What's the weather like?
One of the most often asked questions about travel to Alaska and northwestern Canada is, “When is the best time to travel?” The high season for travel in the North is June through August, usually the warmest months. But summer can also be the wettest months. The weather is as variable and unpredictable in the North as anywhere else: for Alaska weather go to the National Weather Service website.
The Alaska Climate Research Center at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, says there is one rule that works for most Alaska travelers, and that is “to always be prepared for one season colder than the time you are traveling.” The Center offers climate data and current Alaska weather.
For weather web cam options click on “Alaska Weather Links,” which will take you to links for weather cameras with real-time images from around the state.
To view weather conditions at various airports in Alaska, go to the FAA web site.
Current weather and 5-day forecasts for Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon communities are available from Environment Canada.
One advantage of summer travel to the North is the long hours of daylight: 19 hours and 22 minutes in Anchorage at summer solstice (June 21) and more than 21 hours of daylight in Fairbanks. If you are traveling in winter, the reverse is true: 3 hours and 42 minutes of daylight in Fairbanks at winter solstice (December 21) and about 5-1⁄2 hours in Anchorage. The farther north you go, the longer (or shorter) the days get. You can get sunrise and sunset times for any location, for any day or year, from the U.S. Naval Observatory website (click on Sun Rise/Set under Popular Links).
When choosing when to travel North, keep in mind that some tours, attractions, lodges and other businesses operate seasonally, often from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Private campgrounds generally open in late May, or as early as the last spring freeze, so they have running water, and close at or shortly after freezing temperatures begin in the fall.
Many residents recommend May and June as the most favorable months for travel to the North. Early May is generally colder, with more snow at higher elevations (and latitudes) than late May. Deciduous trees do not leaf out until the latter part of May in most areas.