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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Alaska in August

Alaska in August is one of the most beautiful places to spend time. The weather is excellent, with wildflowers blooming, trails free of snow, and lots and lots of wildlife running around.

Having the opportunity to visit during this time will allow you so much time to adventure and soak in the most beautiful state America has to offer. Plus, there are an incredible amount of activities to do that will create lasting memories.

So, shall we dive in?

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Walking on the Root Glacier in Wrangell St Elias National Park.

Everything you need to know about planning a trip to Alaska in August

Pertinent Information to Know Before Visiting Alaska in August

Is August a good time to visit Alaska?

Most definitely, yes, it is! Alaska in August is phenomenal, and you’ve made a great decision. The biggest crowds will dissipate, the hiking trails will be completely snow-free, and summer will be in full reign in the 49th state.

You’re going to have an incredible time!

Alaska in August is great to see Denali National Park.

What is Alaska’s weather like in August?

It’s beautiful this time of the year. Expect highs in the 60s with plenty of sun (albeit some rain depending on where you are) and lots of time to explore and see the sites. You’ll be so happy you chose Alaska in August.

Should I go with a rental car or Turo (or something else)?

It’s the new world we live in.

Rental cars in Alaska, especially a month out, are pretty pricey. In early July 2023, for a mid-August rental for 13 days, it was coming out at over $2,000. When I visited in 2021, it was also unbelievable. We thankfully found a Turo car for $75 per day and felt like we hit the jackpot.

If you’re okay sleeping in a pop-up tent or doing a camper van, going that route might be more cost-efficient, and your lodging is already taken care of!

Views of the Alaskan Range from a flightseeing trip. Alaska in August should give you clear skies!

How much daylight is in Alaska in August?

Depending on where you are will adjust the clocks, but you’ll have around 18-20 hours of light per day when you visit Alaska in August. Towards the end of the month, you’ll have less than the beginning – maybe an hour difference or so.

This is still far more than you would have anywhere else in the Lower 48 or Hawaii, so I’m sure you’ll be able to put the long days to good use!

How rainy is Alaska in August?

It’s beginning to get on the rainier side. However, it also depends on where you will be. Anchorage sees around two to three inches in August, while Juneau is on the heavier side of 7-11 inches. The mainland area is nothing to be worried about.

Should I take a cruise to Alaska or rent a car and drive?

I’m biased because we did a 21-day trip around Alaska. Still, I think being on the ground and being able to choose your adventures and how the days go is unrivaled. If you want to visit Glacier Bay National Park, you may need a cruise, but outside of that, planning your trip is far superior.

We were able to see so much of the state and create lifelong memories that if you can rent a car and do it, you should.

A black and white photos of mountains in Alaska.

Where to stay when visiting Alaska in August?

Just like rental cars, hotels are pricier in Alaskthanvs the Lower 48. However, it’s not terrible. We used Expedia to find the cheapest rates and camped around a lot when it helped limit our costs.

If costs are of your primary concern, book the cheapest. You’ll hardly spend time indoors with nearly 19 hours of daylight to explore!

However, I suggest looking for cool cabins and unique spots to plant yourself or a night or two. We got a lovely tiny house in Homer, and it was absolutely perfect and super cozy!

What are the nine best things to do in Alaska in August

1. Explore the Stunning Alaska National Parks

Alaska has the second most National Parks in the US. Over half of them are relatively accessible. Two are much harder to reach. The following Alaskan National Parks are ranked by how easily they can access them.

One of the glaciers you can get close to in Kenai Fjords National Park. This is a prefect place to go while in Alaska in August.
Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

The second most visited National park in Alaska, but the easiest to get to, in my opinion. Many people head down into the Kenai Peninsula for their trip (less driving), and Kenai Fjords are right there to be soaked in.

I LOVED my time in Kenai Fjords. Our Boat Cruise was the highlight of the trip. We saw Orcas, Humpback Whales, a bear, glaciers, birds, Stellar Sea Lions, and so much more!

What you have to do: Kenai Fjords Boat Cruise and Hike the Exit Glacier

RELATED: Things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park

Denali National Park

So, Denali National Park is amazing, but there are a few caveats. We didn’t get to do the Bus Tour because it was full. So that was a major bummer. If you can do it, do it. Just know that the road is closed halfway due to a rock slide.

I loved the openness and ability to hike anywhere – though tundra hiking is an entirely new beast. We camped here and spent two nights, which was a perfect amount of time. I would have loved to do more, but it is what it is.

Views of the Alaskan Range from an airplane.

Lastly, I personally would recommend getting an aerial tour of the park. It’s really worth it. But overall, Alaska in August here is going to be incredible.

What you have to do: Hike Savage River Trail, Take the Bus Ride

Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Possibly my favorite of the Alaska National Parks we visited. We tackled so much of what was possible in our three days. Check out the links below, but it’s an AMAZING national park, and I highly recommend splurging here and doing everything possible.

What you have to do: Drive the McCarthy Road and hike on the Root Glacier

A hiker looks out at the Root Glacier.

Glacier Bay National Park

I sadly haven’t been here yet. But in general, you have to get to Juneau and then get to Gustavus before getting into the park. OR take a cruise in.

What you have to do: Experience the glaciers and surrounding peaks

Lake Clark National Park

This place is a GEM! We went bear-watching, and it blew our socks off. We saw over a dozen bears, and the flight in and out was gorgeous. I’m counting down the days until we get to do this again!

What you have to do: Bear Watching at Chitina Bay or hiking around Lake Clark (the lake)

Aerial views of Lake Clark National Park. It's a great place to visit while in Alaska in August.

Katmai National Park

Similar to Lake Clark, this is another immaculate location for bear-watching. You must fly or boat in – I recommend flying for speed, avoiding rough seas, and stunning views.

What you have to do: Bear Watching at Brooks Falls

Coastal Brown Bears hanging out in Lake Clark National Park.

The following two are much harder to reach due to logistical complications. You’d need to schedule a flight to get you to and from these gorgeous locations.

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Kobuk Valley National Park

You are out there if you get to these gems. I wish I could say I’ve been, but that’s a later-in-life adventure. Gates of the Arctic looks cooler than Kobuk Valley, but both have unique aspects that make them worth visiting!

2. Adventure in Cooper Landing

Cooper Landing was one of my favorite places to visit in the Kenai Peninsula. Its accessibility from Anchorage is unrivaled, and there are a lot of activities to do. With lots of hiking, fishing, rafting, bear watching, and camping options, you will have more than enough fun things to do.

Views from the Slaughter Ridge Trail in Cooper Landing Alaska.

3. Go Bear Viewing

As I mentioned above, bear viewing in Lake Clark was so friggin’ cool! We arrived at the meeting point at 9 am and came home around 5 pm. It’s pricey – $800+ a person but for an entire day, so worth it!

A coastal brown bear looks at the camera.

4. Walk on a Glacier or go Ice Climbing

There are two accessible glaciers to access in Alaska. The most popular is Mantanuska Glacier, about two hours from Anchorage. You can hike, and ice climb here.

The next is the Root Glacier in Wrangell St Elias National Park. This is harder to get to but less crowded.

Hikers walking on the Root Glacier in Alaska.

5. Experience a Flightseeing Trip

We took a flightseeing trip around Denali and Wrangell St. Elias National Park. I highly recommend both. With how good the weather is in Alaska in August, you need to add this to your bucket list. The Denali one, out of Talkeetna, is far more accessible.

Do the Denali flightseeing trip. You won’t regret it.

6. Go kayaking

Kayaking is another great option to do in Alaska in August. The best spots are Whittier, Seward, and Homer. The first two will give you better views and possibly get close to a glacier.

7. Enjoy the wildflowers

The summer wildflowers in Alaska in August are stunning. They will be all around, so take a moment to pull off the road and soak it in. Some of the better spots are down by Homer, with Lake Clark National Park in the background.

8. Drive the Denali State Highway

One of the surprises of the trip. We had only loosely thought about driving this 135-mile dirt road but ended up saying yes. I’m thankful we did. It’s amazing. You’ll hardly see anyone else out there because rental car companies don’t allow it. (Turo does.)

It’s as wild as you can get in Alaska without taking a plane. Expect it to take all day, or set up camp somewhere along the road and soak up the views!

Aerial views of the Denali State Highway in the center of Alaska.
Denali State Highway

9. Visit other State Parks and Wilderness Areas

Alaska isn’t just National Parks. They have the largest state park in Chugach State Park. Additionally, Kachemak Bay State Park and Denali State Park offer hikers and visitors lots and lots to do! Visiting Alaska in August will let you explore all of these great spots.

What should I wear for my August trip to Alaska?

It’s still summer, but there is a good chance you could have rain. (Though that’s the case whenever you visit Alaska.)

While you can hope for days in the 60s and 70s, I would also come with a few warmer items for the morning and evening or in case of a weird weather spell. Also, loose clothing to keep the mosquitos off of you will be key!

I have a good article on what to pack for Alaska here.

What is the best month to visit Alaska?

This is a hard answer because it depends on so many factors for each person. Some people enjoy the northern lights, so they’d say something about winter. However, most tourists say the summer. While I visited in May and June, I think July/August would be the prime conditions because the trails would be fully melted out.

That being said, this is definitely mosquito season, so be ready with plenty of bug spray!

A bald eagle cleans its feathers.

FAQ: Alaska in August

Should I visit Alaska in August or September?

This might depend on where you are going in Alaska. You can probably get away with having good weather in mainland Alaska in September. The inner passage, though, tends to start getting rain in September.

Can I expect to see wildlife in Alaska in August?

Heck yeah, you will! This might be the best time of the year to see wildlife. The bears are out; the salmon are running, which means eagles and hawks are nearby, and the newborns are much sturdier and able to move on their own.

Take a look at my article on Alaska Wildlife Photography.

Can I witness the northern lights in Alaska in August?

At the beginning of August, your chances are slim to none, as the daylight still stretches far too late into the early morning. However, you’ll have a better chance by the end of August. However, you’re still in this middle ground where Fairbanks is a great location to do it, but it’s further north, so it still gets plenty of light.

October could be your time if you want the northern lights without frigid weather!

A caribou walk across the road in Denali National Park.

Is Alaska crowded in August?

While it’s not the craziest, Alaska in August is still very popular and probably 95% of what June or July is.

Wrapping up – Alaska in August

Visiting Alaska’s national parks in August offers nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers an unparalleled adventure.

With the long daylight hours, diverse landscapes, and abundant wildlife, this is the perfect time to explore the untamed beauty of the Last Frontier. From hiking through glaciers to witnessing beautiful nature, August provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the Alaskan wilderness.

Whether you visit Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, or any other park in the state, you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

So pack your bags for a trip to Alaska in August and get ready for an extraordinary journey into some of America’s most stunning national places in Alaska!

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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