Alaska Weather

View of a rainbow and rain storm under the edge of a tent

NPS/Josh Spice

Things to remember about Alaska weather, route planning, and being flexible.
Trips in Alaskan National Parks require research, planning, and flexibility. Be prepared for last minute changes in weather conditions, or routes to be more strenuousness and take longer than expected.

Be prepared
Visitors to Alaska might bask in warm, gentle sunshine, be pummeled by fierce storms, or get soaked by rain. Weather conditions can change rapidly. In different areas of the state, the terrain channels fierce winds and gusts in the 30-50 mph range are not uncommon.

Frost and snow can occur any time. In general, visitors should be prepared to experience a number of different weather conditions during their stay. Choose your clothing, gear, and amount of food with great care, as the weather often changes rates of travel, routes, and pickup schedules.

Know when to stop, turn around, or switch to your backup plan
Knowing when to stop or turn around is one of the most valuable skills one can have in the backcountry. Once you begin your trip, do regular mental checks as you go.

Some questions to think about throughout your trip include:

  • What's the weather doing? Is it going to impact our original plans in anyway?
  • How am I feeling? Am I warm, cold, tired, hungry, winded, etc.?
  • How is everyone else in my group doing? Are they moving fast, slow, do they seem tired?
  • Are we making good time? Mistakes are made when people begin to rush.
  • How are our supplies? Do we have everything we need (food, water, gear, etc.) to get home?

Be prepared to switch to your backup plan. Make necessary adjustments to your plan early.

Last updated: April 8, 2022