Alaskan cruises are a bucket-list dream for many, and rightly so – Alaska is double the size of Texas and jam-packed with jaw-dropping landscape, all of which you can see from the deck of the ship. From Arctic tundra and old-growth forests to the mountains and the Aurora Borealis, the coast is only the beginning – many cruise lines offer cruise and inland Journeys in Alaska that allow you to explore the best of both worlds.
Spring at the Top of the World (late-March to June)
People tend to see Alaska two ways – a winter wonderland, and the land of the Midnight Sun. And it is these things, but it’s also much more.
In spring, Alaska’s landscape explodes. Like Jack London wrote in The Call of the Wild, “The ghostly winter silence had given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.”
The awakening is everywhere – it’s in verdant foliage and blooming wildflowers. It’s in birds and animals, and warming temperatures and lengthening days. It’s along freshly-thawed rivers where bears emerge from their slumbers, cubs in tow. It’s even in Alaskans, who’ve been bursting with cabin fever and are ready to see nature getting dressed for summer.
As March gives way to April and May, daylight grows by several minutes daily in Anchorage, and even more further north, causing Alaska’s landscape to change more dramatically, faster than anywhere else on the continent.
Midnight Sun and Fleeting Summers (late-June to Mid-September)
As the summer solstice appears, the mountains are dotted in Dall Sheep, the short but intense growing season beings, and snowpacks have receded, allowing for hiking at higher elevations.
Lakes have begun to warm after their thaw. Rivers rage with seasonal melts, and the fish are fat, along with the bears who feast on them. Wildflowers like fireweed are everywhere, as each week brings some new sign of the advancing season. Caribou and wolves and other animals cross the landscape late into the night, stalking prey on light summer nights.
In cities, Alaskans are tanned and facing their annual struggle – sleeping without darkness. But they bear that struggle easily when it brings mountain biking and fishing until midnight. Northern summer euphoria will slip away all too soon, so Alaskans know there’s little time to waste.
Alaska Dons Her Autumnal Colors (late-August to mid-October)
With a shift into autumn, change comes quickly in the north. Most on Alaskan adventures begin to pack up and head home, unaware of the beauty they’re about to miss.
The end of summer is deceptive – autumn is for hunters and photographers. In forests and fields, hunters look to fill freezers with nature’s bounty. For hunters and those on photography expeditions alike, golden and red leaves make the hours of waiting for wildlife endlessly meditative.
With ice still weeks away, rivers teem with salmon, and fishing is even easier with crowds gone. It’s also nearly the end of bear season, as the beasts have nearly done fattening themselves for months of hibernation to come – spotting a grizzly bear in peak form now is an awe-inspiring site.
In Alaska, Winter is Always Coming (late-October to mid-March)
The closer winter draws, the faster darkness increases. During this season, air can become so cool and dry that moisture from your breath freezes, appearing as though silver sparkles hang suspended in cool sunlight.
As night falls, silence settles over blanketed snow, contrasting the near-nightly magic of Aurora Borealis painting on her dark canvas.
The long, black nights intimidate southerners, but sunny, bright, and snow-crusted days make it worth it. With the right gear (headlamp and a thermos of cocoa), crunchy powder trails await snowshoe-aided explorations, cross-country skiing, and fat-biking even after night falls.
In Alaska, Adventure Awaits Again and Again
Alaska is a land of mystery, beauty, and surprises. Like it's daylight that changes dramatically on a daily basis, Alaska is a state where time never stands still. From wildlife to starry nights, snowy peaks to rushing spring rivers, and fjords to endless valleys, Alaska’s beauty is an ever-changing canvas that few places on Earth rival.
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