Every month in Alaska has something incredible to offer, and Alaska in August is no exception!
August is the last month of the summer season in Alaska, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. With warm-ish weather and long days, there are still plenty of things to see and do.
As someone who lives in Alaska, I call tell you that a vacation in Alaska in August can be ideal if you want to avoid the crowds seen during peak season, but avoid the cold weather months.
If you’re considering an August trip to Alaska, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to decide if this is a good time to visit. I’ve included information about the weather, daylight hours, events, what to pack and wear, and some of my favorite things to do in August.
5 Reasons to Visit Alaska in August
- The weather is mild and sunny. The average temperature in August is in the mid-60s, with plenty of sunshine.
- The wildlife is abundant. August is a great time to see some of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife, such as bears, moose, whales, and salmon.
- The days are long. In some areas of Alaska, the sun doesn’t set until after 10 p.m. in August, so you’ll have all day to enjoy your favorite vacation activities.
- The crowds are smaller. August is a popular time to visit Alaska, but it’s not as crowded as June and July. This means it’ll be slightly easier to book activities and accommodations, especially in the second half of the month.
- Less bugs! Colder weather in August means you won’t see as many mosquitoes and other bugs.
Weather in Alaska in August
Daylight in August
Daylight hours in August are decreasing with about 18.5 hours of daylight in Fairbanks. Anchorage sees about 17 hours and 41 minutes of daylight in August. In Juneau, you’ll experience about 15.4 hours of daylight, with sunrise at 5:19 a.m. and sunset at 8:42 p.m.
Aurora Viewing in Alaska in August
Darker nights increase the possibility to see the aurora borealis. Aurora Season begins on August 21 and your best chance of seeing the northern lights in Alaska in August is in the Fairbanks region. Seeing the aurora this early is never a guarantee. The only time I’ve seen the northern lights in August was on an overnight backpacking trip on Crow pass near Girdwood. And yes, it was incredible!
Rain in Alaska
So, does it rain a lot in Alaska in August? August is actually one of the rainiest months of the year in Southcentral Alaska. Anchorage has an average of 10 to 15 days of rain during August. Southeast Alaska is still considered a drier month even though Juneau has an average of 17 days of rain during August.
Temperature in August
Early August brings warm summer temperatures in Alaska before the weather starts to cool down toward the end of the month. Average daytime highs range from the high 50s F in the Arctic to high 60°F in the Interior. Nighttime lows stay above mid 40°F across most of the state.
Here’s what you can expect in different cities around the state:
- Average temperature in Anchorage, Alaska in August: 64°F (17°C)
- Average temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska in August: 66°F (19°C)
- Average temperature in Juneau, Alaska in August: 63°F (17°C)
Best Things to Do in Alaska in August
August days stretch into the evening as the sun doesn’t set until well after 8 p.m. in most cities around the state. With all of this daylight, you can still enjoy all of the same June and July activities during August.
Soak up the last bit of summer with these fun things to do in Alaska in August:
Salmon and Halibut Fishing
August is a great time to fish for coho or silver salmon and halibut. If you’re in Anchorage, you can actually fish for salmon downtown in Ship Creek. If you head south, the Kenai River and Russian River are also great fishing spots for salmon. August is also a great month to book a salmon charter in Juneau.
If you want to fish for halibut, head to Whittier or Seward. Book a trip with a charter service or guide that can take you out into the deep waters.
Visit Denali National Park
One of the top attractions in Alaska during August is Denali National Park. Most visitors are looking to join the 30% club of those who actually see Mount Denali, the tallest peak in North America.
Denali is also a top choice for wildlife viewing opportunities in August. This national park is home to the “Big 5” wildlife, which includes bears, wolves, caribou, moose and Dall sheep.
You can visit the park for free on August 4 in celebration of the Great American Outdoors Act. This is one of the five free admission days for all National Park Service sites.
Go Whale Watching
August is a great month to see whales in Alaska, especially if you want to see humpback whales and beluga whales. Take a boat tour in coastal areas like Kenai Fjords National Park and Juneau and look for humpback whales bubble net feeding.
For beluga whales, drive along the Turnagain Arm. As the whales follow the salmon and hooligan runs, you can spot them just off the highway. I usually spot the first beluga whales of the season from mid to late August.
Plan a Hike
Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities in Alaska in August. Whether you want to go for a day hike or plan a multi-day backpacking trip, the extended daylight in August makes it a great time to go.
There are so many incredible trail to explore around the state. You can walk on Root Glacier in Wrangell St. Elias, climb Mount Roberts in Juneau, or hike hut to hut along Resurrection Pass. You’ll find that some routes are better to plan in August as lingering snow continues to melt up in high passes.
As the month goes on, you’ll most likely see the summer foliage be sprinkled with signs of fall. The fall season is quick but it’s so beautiful to hike through the mountains surrounded by fall colors.
Get On the Water
During the rainy days in August, I still like to get outside. When it’s raining, I feel like it’s much easier to choose water activities over hiking. There are lots of places around Alaska to paddle, whether you prefer to kayak, canoe, SUP, or packraft.
August is actually a great time to paddle in areas that usually have a ton of mosquitoes, like Swan Lake Canoe Trail in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. If you are an experienced paddler, visit Eklutna Lake or Portage Lake in Southcentral Alaska.
During mid to late August, you’ll come across lots of edible wild plants, mushrooms, and berries in different parts of Alaska. One of my favorite things to forage for in Alaska are berries. You can find salmonberries and cloudberries, but I love picking wild blueberries and turning them into blueberry scones! I usually find blueberries in Hatcher Pass, Arctic Valley, and Whittier.
In the last few years, I’ve started to harvest a bit more than just berries. I picked fireweed flowers from a huge field to make fireweed jelly and I finally found some hedgehog mushrooms! I’ve enjoyed learning about mycology and trying to identify and cook as many wild mushrooms in Alaska as possible.
Cruise in Alaska
August in a popular month to cruise in Alaska. Generally, most travelers choose to book a cruise during August because it’s usually cheaper. There are plenty of week-long cruise options that depart from Vancouver and take you through Alaska’s Inside Passage.
During your August cruise in Alaska, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, like bears, and whales. For bird watchers, August is a great time to see migratory birds along the coast. You’ll also be able to see some incredible scenery, like glaciers, waterfalls, and rainforests.
Festivals and Events in Alaska in August
There are plenty of festivals and events to attend in Alaska in August. Salmonfest and the Alaska State Fair are my favorite August events.
Here are some of the best events in Alaska in August:
Tanana Valley State Fair (July 28-August 6, Fairbanks)
The Tanana Valley State Fair happens every year in Fairbanks. It’s Alaska’s oldest state fair and fairgoers can enjoy amusement rides, food concessions, competitive exhibits, contests, and live performances.
Gold Rush Days (August 2-6, Valdez)
The Gold Rush Days are an annual 5-day celebration honoring the past, present, and future of Valdez, Alaska. This family-friendly celebration includes fundraising, vendors, parades, and gold panning!
Blueberry Arts Festival (August 4-6, Ketchikan)
The Blueberry Arts Festival is an annual event always held the first weekend of August in downtown Ketchikan. The Festival kicks off with a parade, continues with the opening of the Blueberry Arts Festival Art Exhibit and the Best Blueberry Dish Contest. This is a great festival for art, live music, and food.
Salmonfest Alaska (August 4-6, Ninilchik)
Salmonfest is a three-day annual music festival held in Ninilchik, centered around fish, love, and music. There are concerts, a smoked salmon super bowl, activities and games for the whole family. 2023 headliners included Old Crow Medicine Show, Sierra Ferrell and Leftover Salmon. I went for the first time in 2022 and it was so much fun!
Kenai Peninsula Fair (August 11-13, Ninilchik)
The Kenai Peninsula Fair is held in Ninilchik and is known as the “Biggest Little Fair in Alaska.” Fairgoers can enjoy live music, shows, rides, food, and a rodeo!
Augtoberfest (August 12, Healy)
I love a good beer festival and Augtoberfest is one to beat. This family-friendly German-style Oktoberfest bash is held at 49th State Brewing in Healy. You get to eat German food and drink special beer releases by the one-liter stein in true Oktoberfest style. Plus, there is live music to dance to all day and night.
Galway Days Irish Festival (August 12, Anchorage)
The Galway Days Irish Festival is a free event in downtown Anchorage at Town Square Park that celebrates Irish culture and traditions. The festival features live Irish music, Irish dancing, workshops, vendors, a beer garden, and a bake sale.
Ester Fest (August 12, Fairbanks)
The annual Ester Fest is a family-friendly fundraiser to help raise revenue for maintenance and improvement of the Ester Community Park in Fairbanks. Attendees can listen to live music on the grass and eat from a selection of local food trucks.
Alyeska Resort Blueberry Festival (August 12-13, Girdwood)
If you love blueberries, then you’ll want to experience the Blueberry Festival held at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood every year. This two-day family-friendly event honors blueberry season with blueberry picking, pie-eating contests, cooking demonstrations, dessert contests, live music, arts & crafts, a beer garden and food vendors from all over Alaska.
Silver Salmon Derby (August 12-20, Seward)
The Seward Silver Salmon Derby is an annual competition that brings anglers to Resurrection Bay in a bid to bring in the largest silver salmon. Each year, thousands cast their line for the chance to win money, including a grand prize of $20,000! The derby started in 1956 and supports coho population restoration efforts.
Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival (August 18-20, Fairbanks)
The Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival celebrates the fall migration as thousands of Sandhill Cranes begin their journey south for the winter. The festival will feature internationally renowned speakers, artists, and guides. Activities and workshops are offered for all ages, which include guided walks, birdwatching, photography, falconry, crane calling, and many other related activities with ample opportunities for observing cranes and other fall migrants.
Alaska Greek Festival (August 18-20, Anchorage)
Eat, drink, and be Greek at the Annual Alaska Greek Festival! This festival shares the best of Greek culture in Alaska. Taste traditional Greek food, including gyros and traditional Greek pastries, listen to live Greek folk music and watch Greek dance performances.
Alaska State Fair (August 18-September 4, Palmer)
The Alaska State Fair is held annually in Palmer. The fairgrounds are filled with rides, games, vendors and lots of fair food. Some of my favorite things to eat at the Alaska State Fair are the coconut crab cakes and corn fritters with honey butter! You can also attend one of the daily concerts like Noah Kahan, or visit one of the many exhibits in art, photography, crafts, crops, flowers and livestock. I love checking out the giant pumpkins. Can you believe the current state record is 2,147 pounds?!
Anchorage RunFest (August 19-20, Anchorage)
The Anchorage RunFest attracts runners from all over the United States and across the globe. Individual runners and groups both large and small travel to Anchorage to run the fast and flat Anchorage Mile, and the scenic 5K, 13.1 mile, 26.2 mile, and 49K courses.
Fairbanks Fungi Fest (August 26-27, Fairbanks)
Fairbanks now has its own Fungi Fest! The Fairbanks Fungi Fest celebrates fungi with a ton of different forays and workshops held throughout the weekend. You can learn everything about mushroom identification to cultivation and extraction! Plus, there will be local mushroom specimens on display, which have been identified by experts.
What to Pack For Alaska in August
Since there are so many places to visit in Alaska during August and weather and temperatures vary by location, your Alaska packing list will depend on what you’re doing.
If you plan on taking a cruise in Alaska in August, you want to make sure you have warm layers. It can get chilly on the water. Make sure to bring a warm hat and a light pair of gloves.
If you plan to spend time outdoors, whether you’re hiking or camping, make sure to pack good rain gear, including rain boots or waterproof hiking boots. My summer hiking gear checklist will help you pack for your August adventures.
Most Alaskans dress pretty casual, even when in “fancy” restaurants. It’s common to go straight to dinner in the same clothes you spent the day adventuring in. So, dress for comfort.
No matter what your plans are, here is a quick list of packing essentials for an August trip to Alaska:
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Rain boots
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Warm hat
- Light gloves
- Fleece sweater
- Warm layers
Is it a good time to visit Alaska in August?
As a local, I think August is a great time to visit Alaska. By traveling in August, you will avoid the peak summer crowds and peak costs but still get to enjoy some good weather. You can enjoy all of the summer activities, tours, and fun festivals, but you won’t have to deal with any snow. Plus, if you visit in late August you may even see the northern lights!
I hope this guide on visiting Alaska in August was helpful as you plan your trip to Alaska! Do you have any questions about visiting Alaska in August? Let me know in the comments.
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