When to Photograph What in Alaska
Have you ever wondered when’s the best time to photograph brown bear snagging salmon from cascading falls… meadows and fields carpeted with wild lupine… northern lights whipping across the night sky… or tail slapping whales in a coastal fjord? Alaska provides scenes like these and so much more, but they’re seasonal – so knowing where to be and when is key to success. Consulting the Alaska photo tips chart is a good place to start.
Among the unique attributes of the subarctic, early spring is still essentially winter. Between winter and spring is a sub-season locals like to call “breakup,” during which time temperatures and precipitation can fluctuate wildly. It’s a gray and gritty time of year, but following one warm day in May, the landscape suddenly erupts in bright spring green. Newborn moose calves can be spotted tottering after their mothers soon after. Streams begin filling with spawning salmon around the same time, and wildflowers peak in early July. By late August, summer is already making way for fall and the first auroras of the season might be seen dancing through the night. Like a grand finale, autumn is short and explosive, with alpine tundra awash in golden crimson and snow-dusted mountain peaks. Alaska is a vast state ranging from 51°S (Adak) to 71°N (Utqiagvik) so this list is far from complete, but it is a good starting point to learn what can be seen and photographed during each month throughout most of Southcentral Alaska; including Homer, Soldotna, Kenai, Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla and Talkeetna.
* Peak months are noted in bold caps.
Spring tide in Turnagain Arm at sunset.
Alaska Photo Treks offers sunset tours year round. Sunset Photo Safari operates May- September. Twilight Photo Tour runs September-April. Departure times for both tours are dependent on sunset, which at this latitude changes dramatically throughout the year. The times for each week are posted on the respective pages for each tour. Winter months also include the northern lights viewing adventure, Anchorage Aurora Quest. Explore Alaska Photo Treks to learn more about these excellent, instructional day tours and multi-day tours and workshops.
|Aerials (fixed wing)||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Alaska State Fair||AUG||Sep|
|Anchorage Fur Rondy Winter Festival||FEB||Mar|
|Anchorage skyline at twilight||Jan||Feb||Mar||APR||OCT||Nov||Dec|
|Auroras (northern lights)||Jan||Feb||MAR||SEP||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Brown bears (Chinitna Bay)||May||JUN||JUL||AUG||Sep|
|Brown bears (Denali National Park)||Jun||Aug||Aug||Sep|
|Brown bears (Katmai National Park)||JUL|
|Brown bears (Lake Clark National Park)||Jul||AUG||SEP|
|Dall sheep (Turnagain Arm)||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||MAY||JUN||JUL||AUG||SEP||OCT||Nov||Dec|
|First snow (mountain summits)||Aug||SEP||Oct|
|First snow (sea level)||Sep||Oct||NOV|
|Glaciers (by air)||JAN||FEB||MAR||APR||MAY||JUN||JUL||AUG||SEP||OCT||NOV||DEC|
|Glaciers (by boat)||Apr||MAY||JUN||JUL||AUG||SEP||Oct|
|Ice flows on Cook Inlet & Turnagain Arm||JAN||FEB||MAR||Apr|
|Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race||MAR|
|Moonrise (Hunter moon)||OCT|
|Moose calves (newborn)||MAY||JUN|
|Moose in rut||SEP||OCT||NOV|