Alaska and the Yukon make up an enormous mass of land; in fact, combined they are about half the size of the lower 48 states! As you can imagine, it can be difficult to speak in generalities about the climate for an area so vast. However, the following is some good advice on the seasons, what to expect and the best time to cruise to Alaska.
Alaska Weather by Season
Temperatures will be lower in the spring (early May to late June), and the weather a bit more unpredictable, but on the plus side there are fewer visitors in Alaska and the prices are likely to be a bit lower. So if you’re on the hunt for some of that famous northern solitude, spring is the time for you. And best of all, the land is bursting back to life after the long, cold winter months. Flowers are blooming, bears are rousing from their slumber, and a sense of renewal permeates the land. So, don’t scratch spring off your calendar just because Alaska’s weather may not be ideal.
Average Spring Temperatures:
Inside Passage/Southeast; Southcentral; and Interior: daytime highs in the mid 50s to upper 60s, with low temperatures in the mid to upper 30s.
Far North/Arctic: daytime highs in the mid 20s to upper 30s, with low temperatures in the mid-teens to upper 20s.
Of course, summer is the peak season for tourism and considered the best time for Alaska cruises, and for good reason. Running from late June to mid-August, summer has the warmest temperatures, near endless sunlight (approximately 18 hours or more per day!), and the best chances for viewing wildlife. And with the tourism industry in full swing, you’ll find more services and a seemingly endless list of activities to take part in. But you won’t be alone — more stuff to do and nicer weather means more people — and the prices will generally be a bit higher.
Average Summer Temperatures:
Inside Passage/Southeast; Southcentral; and Interior: daytime highs in the low 60s to low 70s, with low temperatures in the upper 40s and low 50s.
Far North/Arctic: daytime highs in the low to mid 40s, with low temperatures in the lower 30s.
This is when Alaska and the Yukon are enjoying a last hurrah before winter sets in. Running from late August through September, fall can feel very much like spring. The temperatures will be cooler and the weather more unpredictable, but, like the spring, prices will often be lower and you’ll have less company. And the Alaska wildlife viewing can rival that of the summer, as creatures great and small are out prepping for the barren, frigid months ahead. With fall comes shorter days, but this isn’t without its advantages. Shorter days mean there is an excellent chance of seeing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the late evenings.
Average Fall Temperatures:
Inside Passage/Southeast; Southcentral; and Interior: daytime highs in the mid 50s to low 60s, with low temperatures in the low 40s.
Far North/Arctic: daytime highs in the mid to upper 30s, with low temperatures in the mid 20s.
Each season has its pluses and minuses and the best time to cruise to Alaska depends on what’s important to you. Now that you know what to expect from the weather, peruse Alaska cruise itineraries.