While spring break in Alaska may not include lounging on a beach to soak up the sun, how about lounging in a hot springs after a day of snowy adventures while soaking up the northern lights? The daylight increases rapidly in the spring and with that comes more time to take advantage of springtime fun in Alaska. This special and somewhat under-the-radar time to visit the 49th state offers opportunities that you won’t get any other time of year: witnessing epic wildlife migrations, attending some of the state’s best festivals and events, and enjoying snow sports like downhill skiing, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing under the warm spring sunshine.
Daylight & Weather
Gone are the darker days of winter by early March, when Alaska gets over 10 hours of daylight and gains anywhere from 4 to 20 minutes of daylight each day through the spring (depending on where you are in the state). Late spring marks the official start of midnight sun season: by the end of May we see nearly 18 hours of daylight in Juneau, 19 hours in Anchorage, over 20 hours in Fairbanks, and non-stop daylight in Utqiagvik, where the sun rises on May 12 and doesn’t set again until August 2. More sun means warmer temperatures - and don’t forget your sunscreen if you’re out in the snow on a sunny day! The sunlight bounces off the snow and can cause some pretty epic ski goggle tan lines.
All that daylight means that there’s plenty of time for springtime fun, and if you’re visiting in March or April, that typically means fun in the snow. Depending on where you are in the state, you’ll likely find snow on the ground through most of spring, with snow starting to melt away around the end of March in the more southern parts of the state and moving into May as you go further north. Check out our weather guides by region for more information on average temps and daylight by month.
With snow on the ground for much of Alaska through late spring, this time of year offers the sweet spot for winter outdoor activities with the sun high in the sky and warmer temperatures. Skiing (downhill and cross country), snowshoeing, fat tire biking, and other snow sports along with winter tours like dog sledding and snowmachining are made even more brilliant with spring sunshine bouncing off the snow.
Spring is also a great time for that other dazzling display: the northern lights, or aurora borealis. Northern lights viewing season in Alaska runs through April. You can search for the lights yourself using tools like the statewide aurora forecast and the Fairbanks aurora tracker or you can join a guided northern lights viewing tour or stay at a specialty northern lights viewing accommodation to maximize your chances of seeing the aurora.
After all that activity you may be ready to kick up your feet and relax – and what’s spring break without a little R&R? Two of the best spots for soaking away what ails you are the Alyeska Nordic Spa in Girdwood and Chena Hot Springs outside of Fairbanks. The indoor/outdoor relaxation experience at the new Alyeska Nordic Spa features hot, warm, and cold pools along with saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs nestled among the boreal forest. You’ll want to spend the whole day here as you move through the circuit at your own pace and enjoy food and drinks at their exclusive bistro, with add-ons including massage and yoga classes.
BIRDING & WILDLIFE VIEWING
Spring in Alaska offers some unique wildlife viewing experiences that you won’t find any other time of year. Millions of birds, including over 250 different species, and tens of thousands of whales make their incredible journeys to Alaska on their annual spring migrations. Some of the top destinations for spring birding include Juneau, Wrangell, Fairbanks, Homer, and Cordova. Birding enthusiasts should consider planning your trips around one of the state’s spring birding festivals for peak birding experiences along with lectures, guided expeditions, and other fun avian-themed events.