Seven Spectacular Reasons to Visit Alaska in September

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Alaska is a bucket list vacation destination. A typical visitor is coming to visit the amazing scenery, do some fishing/hunting after having read about popular fishing spots from a buying guide, or view some epic wildlife. This is the state to do all of these plus so much more.  Visitors typically come in June, July, and August with a very much needed boondocking guide with them. These are the short summer season in Alaska.  Alaska is BUSY during those months.  Avoid the popular months and check out an Alaskan September.

Here are seven spectacular reasons to visit Alaska in September.

Enjoy the Fall Colors

As the weather cools and the daylight decreases, the landscape changes from green to a spectacular array of yellows and reds.  The Aspen trees all turn a golden yellow that will dominate the forests.  In the tundra, the willows, berry bushes, and miniature trees turn a spectacular selection of red and pinks.

Drive the Denali National Park Road

During four very special days, the Denali National Park road opens for 1600 permit holders and their guests.  A typical visitor to Denali National Park has to take a bus tour or shuttle bus to access Denali National Park.  This special permit allows 1600 vehicles spread out over four days to explore the park road at their own pace.  The road lottery is always mid-September and marks the end of Denali National Parks summer season.

The weather is cool and crisp

It is fall in the 49th state.  The weather is starting to turn from the lukewarm summer to the cold winter. And it is also the best for fishing, lying low for a big catch, & speaking of which, you’d need a strong reel to handle its monstrosity. Get a good deal at In September, the Alaskan weather is a little unpredictable but it is still a comfortable temperate without having to wear a ton of clothing layers.  A light to mid weight jacket is perfect for exploring and hiking in the Alaskan wilderness.

Less Tourists

Tourists will be few and far between even in popular places like Denali National Park.  At most I saw 10 other people while hiking a more popular hiking trail.  September is a more serious time in Alaska so the tourists tend to be more serious and experienced.  These are rookie travels who need everything planned down to the minute for them.

Knickknack Sales

Most of the gift shops will close in mid to late September.  Starting on September 1, many of the shops start offering 25% plus discounts to sell as much stock as they can before they close for winter.  They will offer that discount on almost everything in the store.  I got 40% off a couple of books as well as 50% off some scarves.  It was a great time to shop if you collect knickknacks as you travel.

Don’t need to plan a year in advance

Many Alaska adventures are planned a year or two in advance.  Many of the remote lodges in places like Lake Clark take reservations up to two years in advance.  Unlike myself, who planned my entire trip to Alaska in less than a month (more like the week before but I will count a month because that’s when I made my arrangements for my car for the Denali road lottery).  Because I was there late in the season, most of the hotels had open rooms and could always fit an extra person in.  Heck, I was the only person at my Lake Clark lodge and one of the last guests to arrive for the 2017 season.

Cheaper hotel rooms and car rentals

As September rolls around in Alaska, the hotel, and rental car prices start to decrease as the tourists start to leave.  It’s supply and demand, there is less demand so the hotels drop prices to try and get the handful of remaining tourists to spend their money with them. There are even deals on Alaska cruises in September.

Do you want to visit Alaska in September?

Seven Spectacular Reasons to Visit Alaska in September

27 thoughts on “Seven Spectacular Reasons to Visit Alaska in September”

  1. I loved your post! First of all I’d really like to go back to Alaska — I haven’t been since I was 12, and my husband has never been. Secondly, my favorite time of the year is Autumn and I certainly prefer to travel during off-peak season. You addressed everything I like best! (Loved the photo of the moose!)

  2. Always thought that Alaska is a place that must be visited in Winter. But I can see that Alaska assumes a different look in September during the fall season. There are so many reasons to visit in September and you make really strong points for that. The fact that this is off-season and there are fewer tourists makes it all the more attractive to us.

  3. It certainly sounds a good time of year to visit, although I guess the flip side is that the weather can be less predictable? What are the mossies like that time of year? They were near unbearable in June!!

  4. It’s a very good time to travel Alaska in fall. What a beautiful landscape! In September it’s probably quite safe that there is no snowstorm yet. Your advice to rent a car / camper van during this time is absolutely right. We were able to rent a huge camper van for the price of a smaller one and paid only two weeks, although using it for three weeks.

  5. Yes, definitely I’d love to visit Alaska! Oh my! It’s one of my bucket lists! Silly me, actually didn’t know that Alaska has this place such as homestay, guesthouse or hotels. I could only visualize Alaska as snow place. haha! I’d love to experience cruises, too!

    1. I have no interest in the cruises and they actually kind of annoy me. The cruise lines don’t use the local infrastructure at this point. They have their own private hotels, encourage people to only eat at their run restaurants, go on their excursions so the local business doesn’t see huge benefits from the cruise ships. The people are there but the locals don’t get a chance for their small business to succeed.

  6. September is indeed a great time for visiting mountainous regions. While fall colors are great in general, at high altitudes and barren places they reach an altogether different level. I also love the fact that there are fewer tourists in this season.

  7. September is indeed a great time for visiting mountainous regions. While fall colors are great in general, at high altitudes and barren places they reach an altogether different level.

  8. Oh my gosh, these are definitely great reasons! I think the one that has me most convinced is the lottery to the end of the Denali Park road. I took the bus there in 2010, but I would love to get to drive at my own pace!

  9. Wow. Seems a pretty neat ride if the train is as empty as that. Love the sweeping views across the craggy plains. But did you say you need to plan two years in advance. Thats a lil tough!

  10. Nice post Jennifer,

    Your summary is great in article to know about best reasons to visit Alaska. All points those share in this post is realy appreciable but I love “weather is cool and crisp”

    This is really cool idea for weather is cool in Alaska.

    1. I can’t really answer that question. In terms of visiting, a lot of hotels and activities will be closed but as for weather I can’t really say.

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