Winter scenes in Alaska

Alaska Scenes

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Floatplane at Lake Hood in Anchorage

Autumn in Alaska

Fall means the first thin skin of ice on lakes. It's time then to take the floats off the plane and replace them with skis. This plane, at Lake Hood near Anchorage International Airport, still had its floats in early October but others nearby had already been hauled out of the water.

The Lake Hood floatplane base is one of the busiest airports in Alaska during the summer as air taxi services take tourists flightseeing over nearby glaciers or near Mount McKinley or transport them to remote fishing spots or lodges.

Autumn arrives in Southcentral Alaska, the area that includes Anchorage, Valdez, Seward, Homer and Kodiak Island, about the time school starts and lasts till the first or second week of October, which is usually when the first snow falls. Halloween, in much of Alaska, comes in early winter, creating costume challenges for trick-or-treaters who must bundle up in their winter coats.

Alaska's fall colors are muted because much of the state is north of the range for such trees as maples and oaks, but nonetheless a drive in late September can provide views of spectacular scenery.

Matanuska Glacier in the fall
An autumn view of Matanuska Glacier, off the Glenn Highway east of Anchorage.

Fall Activities

This is a good time of year to take advantage of specials in lodging and transportation as the end of the season approaches for tourist businesses that are oriented for summer visitors.

It's an in-between season, too, in Girdwood, which attracts multitudes of downhill skiers in winter to the slopes where Olympic skiers including Tommy Moe have trained.

It is the quietest time of year in Juneau, the state capital, which is crowded with cruise ship passengers at times during the summer and with legislators and their staffs while the Legislature is in session from mid-January into April.

However ...

It's not the best time of year to visit Denali National Park. The road into the park is usually closed for the season because of snow sometime in September. The visitor center closes at the end of the month.