A Month-By-Month Guide to Anchorage
In Anchorage, every month offers something special to experience — from seasonal natural wonders to holiday celebrations and unique Alaska activities. Whether you’re searching for a sun-soaked summer adventure or a cozy winter getaway under the glow of the northern lights, Alaska’s largest city is the place to start.
Ring in the New Year with northern lights, skiing, skating, dog sledding, and cozy days spent exploring Anchorage’s vibrant arts scene and cultural institutions. The popular Anchorage Folk Festival keeps the city humming, while Alaska Beer Week generates a buzz around Anchorage’s favorite craft brews. Ride the Alaska Railroad to Hurricane Turn for snow-capped Denali Views, or hop aboard a helicopter for an aerial sightseeing tour of Chugach State Park and its stunning glaciers.
Average January temperatures linger in the low 20s, and days see fewer than six hours of sunlight — which makes for crisp, long nights perfect for soaking up the city’s sparkling aurora views.
February belongs to Fur Rondy — Anchorage’s iconic seasonal celebration dating back to the community’s early days, when Alaska miners and fur trappers would rendezvous in the city after a winter’s worth of work. These days, the two-week festival includes the World Championship Sled Dog Races, the famous Running of the Reindeer, a parade, a fireworks show, a carnival, and numerous other only-in-Alaska events.
Snowshoeing, dog sledding, skiing, aurora hunting, and other favorite Alaska outdoor activities fill the rest of the month.
While average February temperatures hover in the mid-20s, the days are growing longer, with an average of nearly 8 hours of light per day — ideal for long weekends on the slopes at Alyeska Resort, Hilltop Ski Area, or Arctic Valley.
The end of Fur Rondy corresponds with the start of the Iditarod, and March is a month for cheering some of the world’s best canine athletes as they make their way north to Nome. The ceremonial start of the Last Great Race takes place on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, and the city fills with mushing merriment. Once the teams take off, March visitors to Anchorage enjoy spring skiing, arts and cultural attractions, and the return of gray whales migrating north from Baja (make sure to book a day trip cruise through Resurrection Bay).
Average March temperatures reach into the 30s, and with nearly 12 hours of average daily sunlight, conditions are perfect for enjoying both the northern lights and favorite daytime activities.
April in Anchorage means spring is in full swing, and Alyeska Resort’s annual Slush Cup makes the most of any snow left on the mountains, with costumed skiers leaping over an icy pond to the cheers of the gathered crowd. Meanwhile, new baby animals begin to make their first appearances at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and around town, and at the end of the month, some of the state’s best athletes converge in Anchorage to compete in the NYO Games — a fun-filled celebration of traditional Alaska Native sports and games.
Average April temperatures hover in the low 40s, and days average nearly 15 hours of light throughout the month, marking the unofficial end of aurora season.
Anchorage blossoms in May: The city’s recognizable red Anchorage Trolley Tours and other sightseeing tours begin their daily departures from downtown, glacier cruises begin sailing Portage Lake and Prince William Sound, and the king salmon start running at Ship Creek.
With average temperatures reaching the low 50s, and days averaging more than 16 hours of sunlight, May in Anchorage is a bright, balmy precursor to the coming Alaska summer.
The flowers are blooming in Town Square Park, the annual Slam’n Salmon Festival lures anglers to Ship Creek, and Alaskans are preparing to celebrate Summer Solstice with baseball, a carnival, live music, barbecues, and other festivities. Hikers head for the mountain peaks and rolling valleys of Chugach State Park, and Anchorage’s city lakes become prime places for paddling (try a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or canoe).
Average June temperatures reach into the 60s, and Anchorage basks in more than 19 hours of daily light.
July — traditionally featuring some of Alaska’s favorite summer festivals — spells fun for the whole family. Make plans to experience Anchorage’s Fourth of July celebration, the annual Bear Paw Festival, and the Girdwood Forest Fair, then unwind with some hiking, biking, fishing, or flightseeing. July is the month to do it all.
Temperatures linger in the 60s but can reach the high 70s, and with an average of about 18 hours of light per day, conditions are ripe for outdoor adventures.
August marks the beginning of berry season in Anchorage, and the blueberry patches grow thick along the Chugach State Park mountainsides. Alyeska Resort’s annual Blueberry Festival is a fun-filled way to enjoy the juicy harvest, and the city’s hiking trails and urban greenspaces fill with berry pickers hauling buckets and baskets.
Temperatures hover in the 60s, and days average around 16 hours of light. With nights beginning to lengthen, the end of August can bring the first few aurora sightings of the season.
Fall colors begin to creep across the landscape in September, and the Anchorage Bowl shifts from shades of green to gold, crimson, and bronze. The area’s large moose population enters the rutting season and begin congregating in the city for the coming winter – creating ideal conditions for wildlife watchers and photographers (just be sure to keep a safe distance). Meanwhile, city hiking and biking trails remain popular destinations for those looking to enjoy the fall foliage and still snow-free ground.
Average daily temperatures hover in the high 50s, while 13 average daily hours of light keeps the city bright for outdoor recreation.
The aurora season heats up in October, when clear nights draw photographers and admirers to the many scenic viewpoints around Anchorage. The days stay lively with Oktoberfest activities, fall sightseeing and wildlife watching, and abundant rainbow trout fishing opportunities. Visitors can find unique only-in-Alaska experiences around the clock.
Average temperatures are in the 40s, and with around 10 hours of average daily light, October brings an ideal blend of crisp fall days and brilliant northern nights.
Snow begins to blanket the city in November, paving the way for iconic Alaska activities like skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and more. Explore Anchorage’s world-class cross-country trails, head to Alyeska Resort or Arctic Valley to hit downhill ski slopes with stunning Chugach State Park views, and stay cozy sampling locally grown foods and craft beers at Anchorage’s favorite restaurants and breweries.
Average temperatures range in the upper 20s, and days see an average of 7 hours of daily light.
Anchorage’s holiday season is an inviting mix of sparkling city nights, luminous northern lights, snow-packed winter sports, and heartwarming community gatherings. Lace up a pair of ice skates (rentals are available) to take a spin across the hot-mopped surface of Westchester Lagoon, watch the popular tree-lighting ceremony in Town Square Park, sing carols with the crowd at Anchorage’s annual Tuba Christmas concert, or admire the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Ship Creek.
Average daily temperatures hover in the 20s, with around 6 hours of average daily light.