Top 10 Must-Do Summer Activities in Alaska

most interesting things to do in alaska in the summertime

Alaska, often referred to as the Last Frontier, is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. With its vast wilderness, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife, Alaska offers a plethora of summer activities that promise unforgettable experiences. Whether you're exploring the rugged terrain on an ATV, cruising past glaciers, or hiking through pristine forests, the opportunities for adventure are endless. Join us as we uncover the top 10 must-do summer activities in Alaska that should be on every traveller's bucket list.

Alaska's Summer Wonders

Alaska's summer season is a magical time when the days are long, and the landscapes are bathed in the golden light of the midnight sun. This unique season provides the perfect backdrop for a wide range of outdoor activities. From the coastal waters teeming with marine life to the inland wilderness where bears and moose roam freely, Alaska's natural beauty is unparalleled. For those looking to immerse themselves in the great outdoors, Alaska offers a variety of activities that cater to all interests and skill levels. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or someone who prefers a leisurely pace, you'll find plenty of ways to enjoy the stunning scenery and rich biodiversity of this remarkable state. Let's dive into the top 10 must-do summer activities that will make your Alaskan adventure truly memorable.

ATV Riding in Alaska: Exploring the Wilderness

ATV riding is one of the most exhilarating ways to explore Alaska's rugged wilderness. With miles of trails that wind through forests, over mountains, and along riverbanks, Alaska's ATV tour and rental adventures offer a unique perspective on the state's diverse landscapes.

ATV Riding in Alaska: A Thrilling Adventure

One of the top destinations for ATV riding in Alaska is the Knik Glacier. This trail provides a mix of river crossings, forest paths, and glacial terrain. The highlight of the ride is reaching the glacier itself, where you'll be awed by the towering ice formations and the pristine beauty of the surroundings. Guided ATV tours are available for those who prefer a structured experience, ensuring you get the most out of your adventure.

best things to do in alaska in summer

Another popular spot is the Denali Highway, a remote route that offers breathtaking views of the Alaska Range. This trail is perfect for those seeking solitude and a deep connection with nature. The Denali Highway provides an off-the-beaten-path experience, allowing you to explore areas that few travellers get to see. For a coastal adventure, consider the trails near Homer. These routes offer stunning views of the ocean and surrounding mountains, with a mix of terrain that includes beaches, forests, and rocky paths. ATV riding in Alaska is a thrilling way to discover the state's natural wonders and create unforgettable memories.

Whale Watching: Majestic Marine Encounters

Alaska's coastal waters are home to some of the world's most impressive marine life, including humpback whales, orcas, and gray whales. Whale watching is a must-do activity that provides an up-close look at these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Best Spots for Whale Watching

Juneau, the state capital, is one of the best places to embark on a whale-watching tour. The nearby waters of Auke Bay and the Inside Passage are prime spots for spotting humpback whales, especially during the summer months when they migrate to the area to feed. Many tours guarantee sightings, so you're almost certain to have a memorable encounter.

top things to do in alaska in the summer

Another excellent location is Seward, where you can take a cruise into Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. These waters are rich with marine life, and in addition to whales, you might spot sea lions, otters, and puffins. The dramatic coastal scenery, with its glaciers and towering cliffs, adds to the experience.

Hiking and Backpacking: Trails of Discovery

Alaska's vast wilderness is criss-crossed with hiking and backpacking trails that offer everything from leisurely walks to challenging multi-day treks. Hiking is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the state's stunning natural beauty and encounter its diverse wildlife.

Top Hiking Destinations

Denali National Park is home to some of the most iconic hiking trails in Alaska. The park's diverse terrain includes taiga forests, alpine tundra, and glacier-carved valleys. One of the most popular hikes is the Mount Healy Overlook Trail, which offers panoramic views of the park and the Alaska Range. For a coastal hiking experience, head to the Kenai Peninsula. The Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park is a challenging hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of the icefield and surrounding mountains. This trail is a must for those looking to experience Alaska's rugged beauty up close.

alaska best things to do in summer

Kayaking and Canoeing: Paddling in Paradise

Alaska's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters provide excellent opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Paddling through these pristine waters allows you to get closer to nature and experience the tranquility of the wilderness.

Best Places to Paddle

Prince William Sound is a kayaker's paradise, with its sheltered waters, stunning fjords, and abundant marine life. Guided tours are available for all skill levels, and you can explore areas such as the Columbia Glacier and Blackstone Bay. The sound's calm waters and breathtaking scenery make it a top destination for paddling enthusiasts. For a unique paddling experience, consider kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a chance to paddle among icebergs and glaciers while spotting seals, sea otters, and whales. The park's remote location and untouched beauty make it a truly special place to explore by kayak.

Wildlife Viewing: A Safari in the North

Alaska is home to some of North America's most iconic wildlife, including bears, moose, caribou, and eagles. Wildlife viewing is a highlight of any trip to Alaska, offering opportunities to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

Top Wildlife Viewing Spots

Katmai National Park is famous for its brown bears, particularly at Brooks Falls, where you can watch them fishing for salmon. The park offers guided tours and viewing platforms, providing safe and spectacular bear-watching experiences. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is another excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

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The refuge is home to a diverse range of animals, including moose, black bears, and a variety of bird species. The Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area within the refuge offers scenic drives and hiking trails that are ideal for spotting wildlife.

Friendly Fish Activities

Alaska is a world-renowned fishing destination, with its rivers and coastal waters teeming with salmon, halibut, and trout. Fishing, however, is of course an immoral, outdated and unnecessarily cruel practice. So what alternatives are there?  Going fish spotting is a great alternative where you go on 'the hunt' to see the fish in their natural environment, and then, just, leave them there. It's a way to connect with the state's rich natural resources without harming them.

Best Spots to Spot Fish

The Kenai River is one of Alaska's most famous fish destinations, known for its king, silver, and sockeye salmon. People from around the world come to the Kenai to experience the thrill of seeing a fish and 'capturing' a trophy photo. For halibut spotting, head to Homer, often referred to as the "Halibut Capital of the World." Charter a boat and venture into the deep waters of Kachemak Bay, where you can watch these massive flatfish and enjoy the stunning coastal scenery.

Glacier Tours: Ice Age Wonders

Alaska's glaciers are among its most awe-inspiring natural features. Glacier tours offer a chance to see these ancient ice formations up close, whether by boat, plane, or on foot.

Best Glacier Tour Destinations

The Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. You can take a short hike to the glacier's edge or join a guided tour that includes kayaking or a helicopter ride for a bird's-eye view.

what to do in alaska in the summertime

Another must-visit is the Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound. Boat tours take you through iceberg-filled waters to the face of the glacier, where you can witness the dramatic process of calving as chunks of ice break off and crash into the sea.

Flightseeing: Aerial Adventures

Flightseeing tours provide a unique perspective on Alaska's vast and varied landscapes. From the air, you can appreciate the scale and beauty of the state's mountains, glaciers, and coastlines.

Top Flightseeing Experiences

Denali Flightseeing is one of the most popular aerial tours in Alaska. These flights take you around Denali, North America's tallest peak, offering stunning views of its rugged terrain and surrounding wilderness. Some tours include a glacier landing, allowing you to step out onto the ice and take in the breathtaking scenery. For a coastal flightseeing experience, consider a tour of the Inside Passage. These flights offer panoramic views of the region's fjords, islands, and glaciers, providing a bird's-eye view of one of the most scenic areas in Alaska.

Camping: Sleeping Under the Midnight Sun

Camping in Alaska allows you to fully immerse yourself in the state's natural beauty. With numerous campgrounds and backcountry sites, you can find the perfect spot to pitch your tent and enjoy the great outdoors.

Best Camping Locations

Denali National Park offers several campgrounds that provide easy access to hiking trails and wildlife viewing opportunities. The park's backcountry permits also allow for more adventurous camping experiences, where you can explore remote areas and enjoy solitude. For a coastal camping experience, head to the Kenai Peninsula.

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The Homer Spit Campground offers stunning views of Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains, while the nearby Kenai Fjords National Park provides opportunities for back-country camping in a pristine wilderness setting.

Scenic Drives: Road Tripping in Alaska

Alaska's scenic drives offer a fantastic way to explore the state's diverse landscapes at your own pace. Whether you're driving along the coast or through the mountains, you'll find plenty of breathtaking views and interesting stops along the way.

Top Scenic Drives

The Seward Highway, which runs from Anchorage to Seward, is one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska. The highway winds along the coast, offering stunning views of Turnagain Arm, the Chugach Mountains, and the Kenai Peninsula. Along the way, you'll find opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography. Another iconic drive is the Dalton Highway, which stretches from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. This remote route takes you through some of Alaska's most rugged and untouched landscapes, including the Brooks Range and the Arctic tundra. The Dalton Highway is an adventure in itself, offering a unique glimpse into the state's wild interior.

Wrap Up: Top 10 Must-Do Summer Activities in Alaska

Alaska's summer season offers an array of activities that cater to all interests and skill levels. From the thrill of ATV riding to the serenity of kayaking among glaciers, each experience provides a unique way to connect with the state's stunning natural beauty. Whether you're exploring the coastal waters, hiking through pristine forests, or simply enjoying the long days under the midnight sun, Alaska promises unforgettable adventures and lifelong memories. As you plan your Alaskan summer adventure, remember to respect the natural environments you explore and adhere to local regulations. By doing so, you'll help preserve the beauty and integrity of these incredible landscapes for future generations.

So gear up, embrace the adventure, and discover the best that Alaska has to offer!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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