One of the frequent questions is, “When is the best time to travel?” Many Alaskans recommend May and June as the most favorable months for travel to the North, as well as probably the most promising period for views of Denali. The high season for travel in the North is June through August, usually the warmest months. But summer can also be the wettest months. The weather is as variable and unpredictable in the North as anywhere else.
An often asked question about travel to the North is “when can I avoid the bugs?” The answer is mid-winter. Summer is bug season and you will run into mosquitoes, black flies (also called white-sox, simulids and buffalo gnats) and no-see-ums (also known as punkies).
Mosquitoes emerge from hibernation before the snow has entirely disappeared. They peak in June but continue to harass humans and wildlife through the fall. Mosquitoes are especially active in the early morning and at dusk. They hatch their eggs in water, so the North—with its marshy tundra and many lakes—is a fertile breeding ground.
Go to the National Weather Service website or phone the Alaska Weather Information Line: in Anchorage or from Outside, phone (907) 266-5105 and press option 1 for recorded forecast. To view weather conditions at various airports in Alaska, go to the FAA web site. For seasonal weather data, go to the Alaska Climate Research Center. For Road Weather Information System (RWIS) reports, choose an area or corridor map then click on blue icons: displays temperature of the road.
Current weather and 5-day forecasts for Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon communities are available from Environment Canada. 24-hour recorded weather reports and forecasts are available by phone for: Whitehorse, YT, (867) 456-7623 (includes road report); Fort Nelson, BC, 250-774-6461; and for Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, BC, Peace River and Grande Prairie, AB, by phoning 250-785-7669.
One advantage of summer travel to the North is the long hours of daylight: 19 hours and 21 minutes in Anchorage at summer solstice (June 21) and 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight in Fairbanks. If you are traveling in winter, the reverse is true: 3 hours and 41 minutes of daylight in Fairbanks at winter solstice (December 21) and 5 hours and 27 minutes in Anchorage. The farther north you go, the longer (or shorter) the days get (see chart).
You can obtain a table of the times of sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset, or the beginning and end of twilight, for any year between 1700 and 2100.
Because most people travel in the summer and fill up hotels, motels, campgrounds and ferries, you might consider an early spring (April or May) or fall (late August into October) trip, when there’s usually more room at lodges, campgrounds and on the ferries. Keep in mind, however, that some tours, attractions, lodges, campgrounds and other businesses may not be open beyond the summer season. Check the advertisements in The MILEPOST® for details on seasonal opening and closing dates. Also, snowstorms are not uncommon in spring and fall (and sometimes summer) in the North.