How should I visit Alaska?
January 6, 2020 3:48 PM   Subscribe

My family is trying to find at least one geocache in every US state, and we don't have Alaska yet. If you could go to Alaska for a short visit any time of year, when and where would you go? We'd be flying in from Seattle. There are geocaches all over Alaska, so if you know of a particularly Alaskan geocache I'd love to have it pointed out.

We like outdoorsy stuff in general, but I HATE MOSQUITOES and I understand that at certain times of year Alaska is mostly mosquitoes. Our favorite vacations are usually a mix of hiking, weird local museums, and actual educational stops.
posted by The corpse in the library to Travel & Transportation around Alaska (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Fly into Anchorage in very late May (cheaper) or early to mid June (greener). Mosquitoes won't be out yet, there are tons of opportunities for day trips (Girdwood, Seward, Hatcher Pass) and the hiking system in the front range of the Chugach Mountains is well-developed (moreso than any other location in the state) but not in any way crowded. May/June are our driest, sunniest months and you'll still be well in front of fire season in July, which has been tough of late.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:56 PM on January 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd suggest Sitka. I've been there in for several weeks in June & there are barely any mosquitos, compared to Minnesota. (They are worse on some of the hiking trails, but manageable with some bugspray.) It's beautiful. There are several small museums, a national park, raptor center, bear sanctuary, and Sitka Sound Science center (small aquarium/hatchery).
posted by belladonna at 4:04 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am no expert, but I recently got back from a two week vacation to Alaska that was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Maybe we got lucky with weather, but the first two weeks in September were perfect - the leaves were colorful and changing, the temperature was great for hiking and being outside, no mosquito problem at all. I understand the fall is generally a rainier, cloudier time of year than the spring, but we really had only two rainy days and lots of sunshine and clear skies the rest of the time. Lots of tourist stuff shut down on the 15th so we were at the very tail end of the season, and spots that I understand were typically overrun with crowds (Matanuska glacier, some of the more popular trails) were peaceful and untrammeled.

We split our time between Denali and the Kenai Peninsula, and if I had less than two weeks I'd easily cut Denali. You could base yourself in Anchorage and do day trips (see this excellent answer to a question I asked about my own trip for ideas). We also liked Seward, which is a gorgeous drive from Anchorage and has plenty of outdoor things to do, both on land and in the water, as well as the excellent SeaLife center and a stunning setting.
posted by exutima at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

At least in southcentral AK, historically late August/September are really pretty gross and rainy; this year was a huge anomaly. Our weather patterns are kind of a crapshoot lately, but generally it's more likely to be just kind of....dank...then, there's a reason we hold the fungus fairs on the weekends around Labor Day. The shoulder season on the Memorial Day side is a bit less of a gamble.

In Southcentral, you're never really going to run into problems with stuff being unpleasantly overrun with crowds except for 1) the very most popular trails (Flattop, Portage Pass in a nice summer) on a weekend day specifically 2) stuff that cruise ships can dump buses full of people off at (Exit Glacier, boat trips out of Seward, the Wildlife Conservation Center or Portage Glacier Visitor Center if you hit the wrong hour) 3) restaurants or other places that cruise ship tourists can walk to from big hotels (Snow City Cafe, the Glacier Brewhouse, Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood).

I'm glad you had a good trip, exutima!
posted by charmedimsure at 6:14 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

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