Thinking about visiting Alaska in November? November is the first official month of the winter season. The days are cold and the nights are dark, which means you have a great chance to see the Northern Lights!
In November, most of the state is covered in snow and many winter tour operators will begin their winter seasons. If you want to experience any winter activities in less harsh weather conditions then this is a great month to visit.
If you’re considering a November trip to Alaska, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the weather, daylight hours, events, what to pack and wear in winter, and some of my favorite things to do in November.
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Packing for a winter trip to Alaska? Here’s my Alaska Winter Packing List
5 Reasons to Visit Alaska in November
- Enjoy winter activities. Try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking.
- Experience the cold (but not too cold). November is one of the warmer winter months.
- It’s Aurora season. The skies are dark enough to see the Northern Lights.
- It’s peaceful. Shoulder season in Alaska is quiet.
- Lots of Holiday markets. Shop for locally handmade gifts and souvenirs.
Weather in Alaska in November
Daylight in November
Daylight hours in November continue to decrease from October with less than 7 hours of daylight in Fairbanks. and about 9 hours of daylight in Anchorage. In Juneau, you’ll experience less than 8 hours of daylight in November, with sunrise at 8:17 a.m. and sunset at 3:14 p.m.
Aurora Viewing in Alaska in November
November is a great time for aurora viewing in Alaska, especially in the Interior region. The increase in darkness makes it all possible. Fairbanks is a great choice for aurora viewing in Alaska due to its consistently clear nights and concentrated aurora activity.
Snow in Alaska
Winter is guaranteed in November and most of the state is covered in snow. November is one of the snowiest months in Fairbanks with an average snowfall of 13.2 inches. The average snowfall in Juneau in November is 13 inches, but there is an average of 18 days of rain this month. Seward starts to see more snow than rain in November with less than 7 inches of rain and more than 10 inches of snow. Snow in Valdez increases dramatically with about 43 inches throughout the month, making it one of the snowiest areas in Alaska.
Temperature in November
November is the first month in the winter season with below-freezing temperatures in Alaska (32°F/0°C). Average daytime highs are below 30°F around most of the state, except the Southeast region with highs still in the 40s F. Nighttime lows drop below 0°F in the Arctic and Interior and between the 10 to 30 F across most of the state.
Here’s what you can expect in different cities around the state:
- Average temperature in Anchorage, Alaska in November: 28°F (-2°C)
- Average temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska in November: 12°F (-11°C)
- Average temperature in Juneau, Alaska in November: 40°F (4°C)
- Average temperature in Seward, Alaska in November: 35°F (2°C)
- Average temperature in Valdez, Alaska in November: 33°F (1°C)
Best Things to Do in Alaska in November
November brings winter activities and lots of snow! Usually by the end of November, visitors can try xc skiing, fat tire biking in the snow, snowshoeing, snowboarding, dog sledding, and more!
As the winter season begins, here are some fun things to do in Alaska in November:
Hot Springs and Hot Pools
Soaking in hot springs during the winter is one of my favorite things to do in Alaska. Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks is a great spot to visit in November and you may even see the Northern Lights while you’re there!
The Alyeska Nordic Spa is another great option for anyone who wants to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. I’ve visited the Nordic spa in Girdwood twice and it’s amazing. The rainforest steam rooms and the wooden barrel saunas are my favorite. Plan to spend at least four hours here!
See the Northern Lights
Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. In November, the skies are typically dark and clear, and the aurora borealis is often visible overhead.
Most visitors choose to visit Fairbanks in November for their best chances of seeing the Northern Lights. There are many websites and apps that provide Aurora forecasts and this can help you plan your trip but if you want to visit the best spots to see the lights, it can be helpful to have an experienced guide or photographer with you on an Alaska Northern Lights tour.
Dog sledding is an Alaskan tradition and a popular winter tour. During a dog sledding and mushing experience in the North Pole, you’ll be towed by sled dogs down snowy trails as you learn about the history of mushing. The best part is you usually get to meet a few puppies!
Whether you are on a plane or a helicopter, seeing the snowy mountains and landscapes from above is spectacular. Flightseeing is also an incredible tour to do in winter in Alaska. Talkeetna Air Taxi offers a winter flightseeing tour in November that explores the Southside of the Alaska Range.
Alaska has many miles of trails that are perfect for cross-country skiing. This is a great way to explore the winter landscape and get some exercise at the same time. There are many different areas to go cross-country skiing in Alaska. Some popular spots include:
- Kincaid Park: Kincaid Park is located in Anchorage and has over 60 kilometers of groomed trails, ranging from beginner to expert.
- Eagle River Nature Center: The Eagle River Nature Center has over 10 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
- Government Peak Recreation Area: Government Peak Recreation Area is a 8,060-acre recreation area located in Palmer with 6.5 kilometers of world-class Nordic skiing trails.
- Independence Mine: The Mat-Su Ski Club grooms ski trails at Independence Mine at Hatcher Pass at the very start of winter.
- Tsalteshi Trails: Located just south of Soldotna, there are over 25 kilometers of groomed cross-country skiing trails, interwoven with 10 kilometers of single-track winter bike trails.
If you’re new to cross-country skiing, there are a number of places where you can rent equipment and take lessons.
Aurora Winter Train
The Aurora Winter Train travels between Anchorage and Fairbanks and it’s a great way to enjoy the winter wonderland of Alaska’s backcountry from the comfort of a warm railcar. On a clear day, passengers can enjoy a winter view of Denali. There are plenty of stops along the way to get off and enjoy the snowy backcountry and winter trails.
Hike in the Snow
I love winter hiking! Especially after the first snowfall of the season blankets the tops of the mountains. Keep in mind that there are lots of areas that become avalanche terrain during the winter but there are still plenty of trails to hike safely in the winter.
One of my favorite winter hikes is the Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood. I love walking through the snow-covered forest!
See Alaskan Wildlife
Winter can still be a great time to see wildlife in Alaska (if you know where to look). One of the easiest places to see a variety of Alaska wildlife is at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Girdwood. If you’re traveling to Seward, visit the Alaska Sea Life Center to see marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates.
Visit a Museum or Cultural Center
When it’s way too cold outside, there are plenty of museums and cultural centers to visit in Alaska. I love spending time at the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here are a few other museums and cultural centers to consider visiting around the state.
- Juneau-Douglas City Museum (Juneau)
- Museum of the North (Fairbanks)
- Pratt Museum (Homer)
- Sheldon Museum (Haines)
Top Festivals and Events in Alaska in November
There are plenty of festivals and events to attend in November in Alaska. From watching thousands of bald eagles gather to shopping for holiday gifts and souvenirs at the many holiday markets, here are some of the best events in Alaska in November.
Sitka Whalefest (November 3-5, Sitka)
Sitka WhaleFest is a community-based festival that celebrates marine life through science education, community, and storytelling. During this event, attendees can enjoy presentations, marine wildlife cruises in Sitka Sound, a marine-themed artisan market, music, local foods, an art show, student sessions, and more.
Alaska Basic Winter Weather Forecasting (November 4-5, Anchorage)
If you plan on spending any time in Alaska’s backcountry this winter, it’s important to understand winter weather. The Alaska Avalanche School will be teaching a class on Alaska Basic Winter Weather Forecasting and students will learn how to read and interpret all the weather maps and computer models necessary to make their own forecast.
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival (November 10-12, Haines)
The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is an annual three-day festival that celebrates bald eagles in Alaska. Every November, nearly 3,000 bald eagles return to the 48,000-acre Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in the Chilkat Valley, just outside of Haines. Visitors can watch the bald eagles feast on the late salmon run.
Alaska Food and Farm Festival (November 10-12, Anchorage)
The Alaska Food and Farm Festival is an annual event with goals to increase awareness of Alaska food issues among the general population and provide training, resources, and networking opportunities to increase involvement in local food issues.
Thanksgiving for the Birds (November 18, Fairbanks)
If you happen to be in Fairbanks in November you can join the Friends of Creamer’s Field Board for Thanksgiving for the Birds. You will learn how to make bird feeders from natural materials and upcycled items and learn about winter birds in Alaska!
Skinny Raven Turkey Trot (November 23, Anchorage)
Get a run in before your delicious Thanksgiving dinner. The most popular running event in Anchorage in November is the Skinny Raven Turkey Trot. This Thanksgiving Day family tradition takes runners on a 5K or 3K course through downtown Anchorage. The event supports the local Food Bank, which serves thousands of families during the holidays.
Bright Up the Night (November 23-December 31, Palmer)
Bright Up the Night is the largest drive-through holiday light display in the state. You drive your own vehicle for nearly a mile across the Alaska State Fair Grounds to see more than 70 amazing light displays. The festive displays are coordinated to music that you can listen to on your car radio.
The Nutcracker Ballet (November 24-26, Anchorage)
The Nutcracker has become an Anchorage tradition. For over 30 years, the Eugene Ballet and young Alaska dancers coordinated by Alaska Dance Theatre perform at the Atwood Concert Hall accompanied by live music from the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. Bring the entire family to this classic holiday ballet!
Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 25, Anchorage)
It’s a jolly day to be in Anchorage for the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. Join the Anchorage Downtown Partnership to celebrate the official start of the holiday season in downtown Anchorage with holiday concert performances, hot chocolate, and Santa and his reindeer! If you plan to do any holiday shopping, you can support local small businesses all day long at Small Business Saturday.
Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 25, Homer)
Homer also hosts an annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. This free, family-friendly holiday event includes a visit from Santa Claus, local Christmas carolers, holiday-themed food and drink from local businesses, and magical tree lighting! Visit the Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center at 5:30 PM to enjoy this Christmas celebration.
Juneau Public Market (November 25-27, Juneau)
The Juneau Public Market is a great place to visit if you’re looking for locally handmade products and Alaska souvenirs. Visitors will find everything vendors selling everything from Alaska Native arts, jewelry, home decor, clothing, and other handmade crafts.
Holiday Markets in Alaska in November
- Makers Market (November 4, Anchorage)
- Holiday Food & Gift Festival (November 4-5, Anchorage)
- Mat-Su Holiday Marketplace (November 5-6, Wasilla)
- Fairbanks Holiday Marketplace (November 10-12, Fairbanks)
- Alaskan Christmas Bazaar (November 11, Anchorage)
- Holiday Marketplace (November 11-13, Fairbanks)
- Alaska Vintage Holiday Market (November 17-19 & 24-26, Palmer)
- Alaska Black Business Expo: Holiday Bazaar (November 18, Anchorage)
- Holiday Expo at Dena’ina Center (November 18-19, Anchorage)
- Christmas Arts and Crafts Emporium (November 18-19, Anchorage)
- Crafted in Alaska (November 24-25, Anchorage)
What to Pack For Alaska in November
If you’re visiting Alaska in November, you’ll want to pack for cold, winter weather. My Alaska winter packing list includes lots of warm layers! You want to make sure to bring a warm hat, a warm jacket and warm gloves.
No matter what your plans are, here is a quick list of what to wear in Alaska in November:
- Waterproof down jacket
- Snow pants
- Warm base layers
- Fleece sweater
- Fleece-lined leggings
- Insulated boots
- Thick wool socks
- Warm hat
- Scarf or neck gaiter
- Warm gloves
Is it a good time to visit Alaska in November?
If you want to experience winter in Alaska without it being as cold as December, January, or February, then November is a great time to visit. Most of the state will be covered with snow and there are a ton of winter activities to try.
By traveling in November, you will notice how quiet it is, and get a true feeling of what the local community is like as Alaskans spend more time indoors.
I hope this guide on visiting Alaska in November was helpful as you plan your trip to Alaska! Do you have any questions about visiting Alaska in November? Let me know in the comments.
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