Alaska can be cold—very cold at times. But in the summer, with a midnight sun, temperatures can surprise travelers. Shorts—at least zip-offs—are necessary apparel when planning a visit to the last frontier. Surprised? Don’t be, as it can easily reach the high 80s. Of course, travelers should still pack clothes for rainy, cooler days. But if you’re going to Alaska, definitely stay aware that there will be days you will need to stay cool. To help you with your adventure, we have six things to do in Alaska to stay cool.
Follow the Dog Sleds
The town of Nome, populated thanks to an early 1900s gold rush, still remains on many travelers’ radars thanks to dogsledding. Although many destinations will showcase dog sled activities, as they are common across the state such as in places like Fairbanks and Denali, this town claims the famous finish line of the iconic Iditarod dog sled race. Each year the event brings plenty of visitors to the town in late spring. But it is the summertime sunlight that warms the area and opens up miles of roads to the vast wilderness in northwestern for adventurers to explore and discover its unique beauty.
Go to the Extreme Northernmost Town
Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States, officially lies above the Arctic Circle. Even with constant summertime sun, there is always the chance to cool down in this town. Available at any time of the day (or “night”), one can dip their toes in the Arctic Ocean. Visitors may need suntan lotion here, but the water is always cold. Plus, a visit will help you to learn why native Alaskans called this place home.
Seek the High One
The word “Denali” translates in local native Alaskan Athabaskan language to the “High One.” Today, it is not just the name of a National Park, but also the mountain with the tallest peak in all of North America. Although the chance to clearly see the massive and impressive Mt. Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) hovers at 30% because of summer weather conditions, those who spend time with Denali will never forget it.
If you miss the mountain, plenty of other memories can be made heading inside the national park. This includes learning about its wilderness, appreciating the scenic vistas, and searching for the local big five; moose, Dall sheep, wolves, caribou, and grizzly bears.
Drink a Cold Craft Beer
The perfect way to cool off after any adventure is with an ice-cold brew. So why not savor a local Alaskan beer? The Alaskan Brewing Co., one of the most popular beers in Alaska, offers a type for every drinker – IPA, Amber, Kolsch and more. But they are not alone in brewing the local craft beer. Take time to sample 49th State Brewing, Denali Brewing, and others when making a visit to the state. Many of these local beers don’t find their way to the lower 48, so enjoy them while you can.
Take to the Rivers
Alaska offers the opportunity to enjoy its waterways with opportunities at all skill levels and ages. The Kenai River affords a chance to float downriver and watch salmon as they embark on their incredible journey. Meanwhile, the Nenana River, a glacier river, provides scenic canyon views with white water to add to the excitement level in Denali.
All of the adventure outfitters will provide the gear and allow rafters to relatively stay dry, but it is extremely refreshing, as you’ll feel 40-45-degree water on your face or fingers.
Get to the Glaciers
Alaska is filled with glaciers, and viewing one is a must on a trip to the state. Destinations inland offer plane flights to land on a glacier, while the cruise port of Juneau offers the chance to take a helicopter to one. Walking on a glacier and drinking its water will certainly cool you down.
For those looking to stay cool, cruise ships offer week-long itineraries that include Glacier Bay National Park, or longer sails to other glaciers such the Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay. Spending time on the cruise ship balcony with a glass of wine, while both hearing and watching a glacier calf… well, I’m not sure it gets too much cooler than that in Alaska.