How To Visit Alaska And Stay Warm At The Same Time
America’s last frontier can be beautiful if you’re prepared for it.
It’s all about when you go
Layers are your best friend
The Northern Lights are a must-see
The Alaskan climate can be a harsh mistress. It’s wildly unpredictable even in the summer months and for those who shy away from winter wonderlands, it seems near impossible to enjoy a vacation when you’re bundled to the nines.
It’s also one of the most beautiful places to visit. With mountain landscapes, extensive wildlife, and vast glaciers, the Alaskan weather doesn’t have to be a deterrent when you know all there is to know about staying warm.
Know when to go
The climate dramatically changes with the seasons, so the best time to visit Alaska is one of the key elements you should be aware of. From June to August, the weather is mild during the day and chilly at night, with temperatures ranging from 34 to 44 degrees in the Northern regions and 43 to 66 degrees in the Central and Southern areas.
The warmest place in Alaska is Fairbanks, but that’s during the summer months and it does get crowded. During September and October, you can expect the temperatures to drop slightly and from November to March it’s cold weather and snow city across the entire state with temperatures dipping well below 30 degrees.
Know what to bring
Because Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable, it’s best to pack clothes you can layer throughout the day. Sweaters, long sleeves, and a parka are your best bet to staying warm when the weather goes through its inevitable ups and downs.
The summer months will be more forgiving, but during the rest of the year, you’ll want to make sure you have at least those items. It’s also a good idea to bring warm hiking or snow boots and socks so the weather doesn’t cramp your outdoorsy lifestyle.
Plan your outings
Alaska has so much to do and see that you’ll have to know exactly what you want to do when you get there to be fully prepared.
You can visit grand natural glaciers for a different kind of trek through the natural beauty of Alaska.
There are many mountains to climb that suit a variety of levels of climbing expertise. There’s also plenty of skiing and snowboarding, Alaskan ocean cruises, fishing, and wildlife watching. To visit Alaska right, visiting one of their national parks such as Kenai Fjords National Park should most definitely be on your itinerary.
The Northern Lights
A trip to Alaska wouldn’t be complete without seeing the beautiful skies lit up with the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The best time to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomena would be from September through March, and those months are the coldest.
That’s where your parka, winter boots, warm hats and mitts, wool socks and heavy sweaters come in. Layering underneath your heavy jacket with a wool sweater is a great tactic to keep yourself from getting too sweaty, which will only make you colder.
As mentioned, layering is key when it comes to your visit to Alaska at any time of the year. Insulation is also a great way to stay warm without being stuck if you get too hot underneath. You’ll probably be changing up activity level as the day goes on so using a looser, lighter layer underneath a heavier one will help keep you dry, warm, and comfortable.
“How do you stay warm when it’s 30 below?” pic.twitter.com/yv9QkkVi0j
— Blair Braverman (@BlairBraverman) January 7, 2019
If you’re planning on taking on a heavy trek through a glacier or a monstrous hike up a mountain the best way to tell if you’re wearing enough layers is to stand still. If you’re a bit cold, then you probably have on the perfect amount of clothing to stay warm without trapping too much heat and becoming a sweaty mess.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
- The real reasons why you shouldn’t warm up your car before driving | Living 101
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- 5 Items to help ease your upcoming winter workouts | Living 101
Winter workouts don’t have to freeze you out if you have the right gear.