Best time to visit and beat the crowds..without being too cold..?

WannaBfromSC

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Is September a good time to visit Alaska? What I want to achieve are: 1. Not too cold yet 2- Not too crowded with tourists. 3- Possibly see northern lights. I am thinking Fairbanks initially, then heading south to Homer or Seward area. Internet says average temps in September (Fairbanks) are around mid-50s.
 

SmokeRoss

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Tourists start leaving in August with most of them gone by the 1st of September. Could certainly see the Aurora then. I have seen it in August when sheep hunting. I have no idea what your definition of cold is, but September is usually pretty mild, and the bugs are not so bad then. Sounds like you have a good plan.
 

Brian M

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Agreed wit SmokeRoss. For what you're after, September sounds pretty great. You could also get a small game hunting license and add in a little grouse or ptarmigan hunting if you'd like. Rainbow and dolly fishing is at its peak in September, though most salmon runs are done. Nice time of year, for sure, though it can be a bit on the rainy side many years.
 

ChugiakTinkerer

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Depending on where you are, you may see night time temperatures dip below freezing. But the morning sun quickly burns off the frost. It's my favorite time of year, actually. Mosquitoes become a non-issue.
 

iofthetaiga

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September is usually a beautiful time to be outside. Tourists are mostly gone, but most of the businesses that cater to tourists are closed up, too, so if you want to do something like ride the railroad in a big window view car, take a boat tour, etc. you're pretty much out of luck.
 

WannaBfromSC

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...most of the businesses that cater to tourists are closed up, too, so if you want to do something like ride the railroad in a big window view car, take a boat tour, etc. you're pretty much out of luck.

Would there still be opportunities to catch a flightseeing tour around Denali, something like that? I have no set plans, but would like to drive from Fairbanks to Homer and maybe spend a little time in the Talkeetna area along the way. Are hotels and day flights pretty easy to get long the way or should I definitely reserve everything in advance?
 

Brian M

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Would there still be opportunities to catch a flightseeing tour around Denali, something like that? I have no set plans, but would like to drive from Fairbanks to Homer and maybe spend a little time in the Talkeetna area along the way. Are hotels and day flights pretty easy to get long the way or should I definitely reserve everything in advance?

You'll still be able to find hotels and flights - maybe a few less options, but some of the operators in Talkeetna fly year-round.
 

AGL4now

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Just to point out a few negatives.........Sept. is peak hunting season, "might be hard to rent a vehicle, as 60,000 non-resident hunters from all over the earth and America come and rent a vehicle to "Road Hunt". Another issue is the summer tourist may be gone, but the roads re packed with Alaska "city" residents racing to get out of town to be near other hunters, who raced to get out of Los'Anchorage. September is one of the rainy months, and if you want to see lovely mountain vistas, you could be lucky to"only" see the shoulder of the highway. You could get "lucky", but there are few beautiful clear weather days in Sept.
 

AGL4now

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Right "Now" would be as good as it gets. Tourist have not started, 65* during the day, has not rained or snowed or been cloudy in the last 21 days. I would suggest end of April and early May is vastly superior to September. June is way out in front the best weather month, but that is why the tourist come then. Mid July it starts getting rainy days more often.
 

Brian M

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Just to point out a few negatives.........Sept. is peak hunting season, "might be hard to rent a vehicle, as 60,000 non-resident hunters from all over the earth and America come and rent a vehicle to "Road Hunt". Another issue is the summer tourist may be gone, but the roads re packed with Alaska "city" residents racing to get out of town to be near other hunters, who raced to get out of Los'Anchorage. September is one of the rainy months, and if you want to see lovely mountain vistas, you could be lucky to"only" see the shoulder of the highway. You could get "lucky", but there are few beautiful clear weather days in Sept.
<br/><br/>While you’re right on the weather (sometimes - I’ve seen some pretty awesome Septembers), you’re totally off on vehicle rentals and non-resident hunters. The vast majority of non-resident hunters fly out or otherwise get off the road system. The road hunters are almost exclusively residents, and unless he motors across the Denali Highway on a weekend, it’s an on-issue anyhow. I’d agree that April and May are pretty nice, but September can be as well - and he’s definitely won’t have a hard time finding a rental.
 

iofthetaiga

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Right "Now" would be as good as it gets. Tourist have not started, 65* during the day, has not rained or snowed or been cloudy in the last 21 days. I would suggest end of April and early May is vastly superior to September. June is way out in front the best weather month, but that is why the tourist come then. Mid July it starts getting rainy days more often.
Depends on where you are, perhaps. Right "now" here in the interior it's full-on mud season. The snow is melting literally before your eyes; it's wall to wall mud; there's trash everywhere you look, and it's generally just butt-ugly. September by contrast is beautiful. There's no shortage of rental vehicles in Fairbanks in September; the weather is usually nice; the mosquitoes are typically gone; the trees are sporting fall colors... Hands down, September beats right now.
 

anchskier

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Depends on where you are, perhaps. Right "now" here in the interior it's full-on mud season. The snow is melting literally before your eyes; it's wall to wall mud; there's trash everywhere you look, and it's generally just butt-ugly. September by contrast is beautiful. There's no shortage of rental vehicles in Fairbanks in September; the weather is usually nice; the mosquitoes are typically gone; the trees are sporting fall colors... Hands down, September beats right now.<br/><br/>
<br/><br/>Might want to go check the rental car market. Just did a random check of 9/2-9/8 in Fairbanks at Alamo. Zero cars of any kind available. Rental cars are in short supply right now all over the place due to them clearing out their inventory during the pandemic and now can’t get replacements due to a shortage of available new cars.
 

Patsfan54

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<br/><br/>Might want to go check the rental car market. Just did a random check of 9/2-9/8 in Fairbanks at Alamo. Zero cars of any kind available. Rental cars are in short supply right now all over the place due to them clearing out their inventory during the pandemic and now can’t get replacements due to a shortage of available new cars.

And rental cars are in short supply right now because cars are in short supply right now. Cars are in short supply right now because computer chips are in short supply right now. It's the butterfly effect, renting a car in Fairbanks Alaska in September will be difficult because droughts in Taiwan...seriously.
 

WannaBfromSC

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Just to point out a few negatives.........September is one of the rainy months, and if you want to see lovely mountain vistas, you could be lucky to"only" see the shoulder of the highway. You could get "lucky", but there are few beautiful clear weather days in Sept.

That is the part that I was most worried about..that September seems to be the rainiest month in AK. Someone mentioned "right now", but I cannot make that work. It has to be later in the year. Didn't want to do summer because of tourists, etc. Thought September would be good compromise and would allow for some Northern Light viewing also. Would August be a better option? I don't really mind that there are some tourists, just didn't want to be over run with people in general. I live in a tourist town myself (Charleston SC), so I am used to people and having to wait in lines..

Does this info look correct to you guys? If so, looks like September is better than August or October.. https://www.google.com/search?q=ave...7j0i390l3.11520j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
 

Brian M

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September is often better than August as far as weather is concerned - cooler, but often dryer. And if you want darkness to possibly view the northern lights, then September is considerably better.
 

as.ks.ak

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September is often better than August as far as weather is concerned - cooler, but often dryer. And if you want darkness to possibly view the northern lights, then September is considerably better.
<br/><br/>In south central probably. But August in SE is far nicer than September!!<br/><br/>I realize he said Seward and Homer but just wanted to mention that in case SE was an option. <br/><br/><br/>Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

iofthetaiga

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Alaska is a huge geographic area with vastly differing weather from the interior to the south central coast. In the interior, weather can be a toss up from year to year. There's no guarantees, and that goes for every month of the year. Given the OP's stated objectives, if it were me I would target the first 3 weeks of September for the interior.
 

stillapa12drvr

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Wannabe:

You're planning on flying in commercial to Fairbanks, then renting a car and driving to points south? (i.e. not flying a 'cub?). I'd have to agree with IoTT and Brian: Aim for September. I'd suggest September even if you were flying a cub. Rental cars might be a problem, but they are a problem generally, not just due to September/Fairbanks.
On my fairly regular drive trips to / from Fairbanks, I really like the Parks Highway 'cause I can go fast and make a quick trip out of it. In September (particularly the latter half), I tend to think of the Parks as also being scenic: almost (from a driving perspective) as scenic as the Richardson...almost: I'd still go down on the Richardson, all other things being equal. If you want to do flightseeing out of Talkeetna, of course, all things aren't equal.

As Brian mentioned, fewer options, but I'd guess that you can get flight (and lodging) in Talkeetna in September. FWIW, I also enjoy Homer & Seward in the fall as well: less tourists, still some fishing, weather in town ain't too bad, etc.
 

SmokeRoss

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You could always buy a vehicle and sell it when your trip is over. Knock off the amount you would have spent on a rental and someone would jump right on it.
 

4merguide

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For the longest time I had only been through Fairbanks in the winter, so didn't really know what it was like other than that. Fast forward to a few years ago when we went up to drop my daughter off at the university the first week of Sept.. The weather was clear and 75 degrees at 11 o'clock at night! It was like that the whole time we were there. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. I would also suggest to the op of possibly driving the hundred miles across the Denali highway. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking!
 
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