Anchorage has long been plagued with many a misconception about being cold and dark. The truth is, the city is far south of the Arctic Circle. Protected by the Chugach Mountains and warmed by Japanese currents of the Pacific Ocean, the climate is actually quite mild year-round.
Spring through fall, Anchorage weather is similar to San Francisco's spring climate, with temperatures that can reach into the 70's. Summer highs average 65 degrees F/18 degrees C.
Winters bring on the snow with high temperatures dipping into the 20s, creating a climate very much like ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains, Canada or Europe. Low humidity also contributes to Anchorage's comfortable climate.
Average Monthly Temperatures
Anchorage Daylight Hours
Let there be light! In Anchorage, there are 22 hours of functional daylight on Summer Solstice. The further north you travel, the more sun you get in the summer; in Barrow the sun does not set for 84 days! The day with the least amount is on Winter Solstice, yet Anchorage still enjoys five hours, 28 minutes of daylight. During winter - the farther north means the fewer the daylight hours.
What to Wear
The weather is perfect for casual wear for people taking advantage of the area's many outdoor activities. Visitors may notice a drop in temperature when taking a chairlift ride to the top of Mt. Alyeska or hiking in the nearby Chugach Mountains, so it's a good idea to bring a jacket for those activities. The key to comfort in Alaska is wearing layers of clothing, then peel on or off as needed.
Comfortable walking shoes are great for all seasons. In winter, bring heavier layers, long underwear, warm hat and gloves, and warm boots. Alaska's informality is perfect for visitors; casual wear is welcome virtually everywhere.
A Photographer's Dream
Long, lingering twilight hours paint Anchorage in a heavenly light. Even in winter, the sun is low on the horizon for extended periods, creating a warm, rich light over the already impressive landscape. Of course the darkness brings with it the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights (best viewed under dark, moonless skies).