Have you been dreaming about a long-awaited vacation to The Last Frontier, as Alaska has come to be known? What is keeping you from taking the trip? Is it your budget? Or, is it that you have heard about how many people flood to Alaska during its peak tourist season? Why not think about visiting during Alaska’s shoulder season? During Alaska’s shoulder season, you can expect to find lower prices and fewer crowds at most of Alaska’s most popular destinations. Check out these five reasons to visit Alaska in the shoulder seasons and then read the places I love to take off to before the tourists descend on Alaska. Yep, the Alaska shoulder season is when most Alaskans take off to see other parts of our great state!
Disclosure: This post not only shares information on Alaska, but also has Affiliate Links that I earn commissions from. This is how I make a living and keep this little blog running. Thank you for supporting me! I appreciate it. Much love, Kristi.
Shoulder Season Dates
The popular tourist season in Alaska is during the summer months of June, July, and August. The temperature is just right for tourists to discover all the wonders that Alaska has to offer during these months. However, the weather is often quite pleasant during the shoulder season, which makes it well worth a visit!
Alaska’s Shoulder Season falls in late April through early May and then again September 1-15.
Alaska’s Prime Season is May 10 to September 1.
Most Alaska travel tours operate mid-May to mid-September, with the exception of those into Denali National Park, which are usually more like June to the end of August. Some day tours and hotels offer Shoulder Season discounts of 10-25% off. Some will have these posted and others you have to ask about.
In 2019, cruise ships are landing into Alaskan’s ports 1-2 weeks earlier than normal. There are also more direct flights from Asia this year than any other year before. Visiting Alaska in April, there is the small chance of still seeing the Northern Lights in places like Fairbanks.
One of the major benefits of traveling to Alaska during the shoulder season is that it is much less busy. Most visitors to Alaska come to see our amazing landscapes, the gorgeous wildlife and to be surrounded by nature, the likes of which few ever get to see. All of this is awesome during the summer, but flat out amazing during the less popular shoulder season because the views are unencumbered by the crowds. Yes, I said crowds.
During the popular tourist season, you can expect a minimum of four cruise ships daily arriving in port communities, which is great for Alaska’s economy, however during shoulder season we see maybe 1 or 2. The crowds are significantly thinned out, which is great for when you are wanting to visit some of Alaska’s most popular destinations such as Denali National Park.
Flying over Denali National Park during the shoulder season in May.
Also note that most people who are traveling to Alaska do it far in advance and resorts, hotels, and cruise ships are booked long before Summer time. You are more likely to find accommodations if you book during Alaska’s shoulder season.
Let’s talk about the other major benefit to booking your trip during Alaska’s shoulder season. Price. That’s right. You are going to save a significant amount of money if you book your trip to Alaska during the April/May or September/October time frames. When I say a significant amount of money, I really do mean it. An Alaskan cruise, for example, can be up to $500 cheaper per person just by going on one of the first cruises of the season instead of waiting until summer. The savings extend to land tours and other popular Alaska cruise excursions, which add up to a significant savings. You will also find prices cheaper at hotels and resorts of up to 25%.
Now let’s chat about some other, less known advantages to traveling to Alaska during the shoulder season. Advantages such as seeing the Midnight Sun” We all know that Alaska stays dark for a long time during the winters. What many people don’t know is that May and September are dark in the early morning hours as well, and visitors just may get a chance to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which are not able to be seen during the summer months.
June is typically very rainy in Alaska, so visiting in the April/May shoulder season, could be much drier weather. Those lucky enough to come in September will get to see just how gorgeous Alaska is in the fall months. Purely spectacular I tell you! Fall in Alaska which is quite beautiful and sadly, short-lived. Alaska’s fall season often times lasts just a few weeks, but boy does it bring striking colors to an already stunning backdrop. Check out these photos I’ve taken of Fall in Alaska! Breathtaking!
Are you ready to plan your visit to Alaska yet? Need ideas on where to book during Alaska’s Shoulder Season? Let me help you with that.
Bear Trail Lodge, King Salmon
Bear Trail Lodge in King Salmon is known as THE place to go fishing in the summer. Located in beautiful Bristol Bay, Bear Trail Lodge is an experience like no other. It might be remote, but it is far from rustic. Cozy up in the lodge by the fire and enjoy a glass of wine or retreat to your cabin and watch the Alaska night sky come alive. There are no city lights to compete with here! The Bear Trail Lodge is inclusive as they have a chef and food available, as well as wine and local Alaskan craft beer on tap. Fly from Anchorage to King Salmon on PenAir where the lovely staff from Bear Trail Lodge will meet you and take you back to the lodge or your private cabin.
During the shoulder season head out and fly fish the Rainbow Trout in the icy cold waters – it is truly an amazing experience. Bristol Bay’s fishing season begins on June 8th when the whole area comes alive and the King Salmon return home. The season ends on October 15th.
Book: Call NaShounci with Bear Trail Lodge or email her as winter getaways are priced differently than their summer fishing packages. Visit their website to learn more about this family-owned and operated lodge in King Salmon, Alaska.
Rates: Depends on package
Here are quite a few of my other favorite things to do and places to go in Alaska.
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