10 Reasons Why You Should See Alaska in September

09/10/2023 Back To Blog Moose in Denali National Park

Falling in the often overlooked “shoulder season,” visiting Alaska in September is one of the best-kept secrets around, so, shhhh. From eye-popping foliage color shows to northern lights displays and rare fishing opportunities, read on to find out why September is one of the best times to visit Alaska. Best of all? You just might have the place to yourself!

1. Beat the crowds

Records show over 2 million visitors make the expedition to Alaska each summer. The vast majority of people stick to the peak summer months of June, July, and August. Fewer people in September means more accommodations are available in popular areas like Denali National Park and Preserve, and that in general, you’ll be hiking, sightseeing  and snapping photos with way fewer photobombers. In an already vast, sparsely populated state, that means an unforgettable sense of communion with the outdoors.

2. Glorious fall colors

While many states in the Lower 48 drag their heels on the fall colors display, Alaska begins its multi-layered festival of colors around Labor Day. What does this mean for visitors in Alaska in September? Hardwood trees in a plethora of different shades from the brilliant yellow and orange of aspens and willow trees to low plants of the tundra in a deep crimson. A peek at Denali National Park’s Polychrome Pass and the contrast of color with the snow-capped peaks in the background will have you convinced that September is the best time to visit Alaska.

Fall in Denali National Park

3. Improved wildlife sighting opportunities

In preparation for the snowbound winters, large mammals such as caribou, moose and grizzly bears venture into lower elevations in order to capitalize on a last-minute, weight-gain buffet. If you’re an animal enthusiast, this combined with the lack of crowds means that your chances for spotting and observing these large game animals in their native habitat will drastically improve. Just be sure to enjoy them from a distance!

Brown bear in Denali National Park

4. Pleasant weather

Go to the weather calculator and plug in your home city. You may be surprised by the weather comparisons you see between the average September temperatures in Alaska and the average temperatures at home. In general, early autumn in Alaska means warm days and colder nights, so you can sightsee in the sun, and then bundle up for our next suggestion in the evening.

5. The aurora borealis

On a clear night in September, the elusive and just-a-tad mystical aurora borealis can often be spotted in Alaska. Just head outdoors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and point your nose skyward. The most reliable area to catch them is around Fairbanks, or further to the north and inland. This area is known as sitting beneath the “aurora oval.” The Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge will even give you a complimentary wake-up call.

the Northern Lights

6. Budget-friendly

As the tourist season winds to a close, many hotels and tour companies drop prices significantly in order to keep their rosters full. Take advantage of this by researching deals ahead of time – you may be able to obtain discounted tour rates or add an additional traveler to your party for little or no cost. Check out Princess Lodges specials before you book!. With lowered flight and room rates, you can stretch your sightseeing dollars that much further.

outdoor dining

7. Salmon fishing

It’s pretty hard even for novice fishermen not to take home one fish during Alaska’s long and prolific fishing season. September is no exception. The late silver salmon run keeps the Kenai River flipping, and Sitka’s fishing on the Pacific Ocean means you might get the chance to reel in a heavyweight.

Fishing in Alaska

8. Longer days than anywhere in the lower 48

With its northern location and sun-friendly time zone, Alaska actually enjoys an average of 10-17 more minutes of daylight per day than the rest of the country, plus brighter light preceding sunrise and sunset. Alaska may be infamous for dark winters, but for the months before and after summer, the long days will have you out maximizing your recreation time while the rest of the country is getting ready to turn in.

Sunset in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

9. Fewer pesky mosquitoes

Alaska is home to 35 different species of mosquitos, and not one of them is welcomed by the visitors to our many stunning parks, rivers and mountains. September, however, is perfect for those who prefer bug-free travel. After their busy season during June and July, the majority of mosquitoes die off, which means visitors in the autumn can breathe just a little bit easier (and worry less about repellents) while out enjoying hiking and boating adventures.

10. You just might catch the end of the Alaska State Fair

Livestock, live concerts, fireworks, all-ages activities…what’s not to like?

Ferris wheel

Excited about to plan a September trip and enjoy the best time to visit Alaska? Find your perfect autumn vacation. Browse our exciting tours and book your fall adventure today!

Posted in: Alaska Travel Tips