5 Must-Do Things in Alaska during October

October is a fantastic time to visit Alaska, as the fall foliage is in full display and the Northern Lights become more visible. There are plenty of must-do activities during this month, including exploring Denali National Park, witnessing the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, going wildlife spotting in various national parks, experiencing local festivals, and going fishing in the rivers and mountains. Here are the key takeaways from this article:

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Denali National Park to witness the stunning fall foliage.
  • Hike the Chugach Mountains for breathtaking views of the colorful landscape.
  • Take a scenic drive on the Seward Highway to admire the fall colors.
  • Visit Fairbanks to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights.
  • Stay in a remote cabin for an immersive Northern Lights experience.

Experience the Fall Foliage

Explore Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of the highlights of any Alaska road trip itinerary, and is home to the tallest mountain in North America – Mt. McKinley. Within the park, there is a lot of wildlife and vast, unspoiled wilderness with glacier rivers, and tundra and all of this is surrounded by mesmerizing peaks! There are amazing things to do in Denali National Park and here you will find also amazing hiking trails to explore. The National Park Bus Service is the best option to visit Denali, as they offer access to 92 miles inside the park, with great opportunities for wildlife views. It operates from May to mid-September. Even during the summer, private vehicles have limited access to the park. The only option for going into the interior of the park is the National Park Bus Service. This is one of the ways the park is preserved in its natural state. If you visit the park during the shoulder season or wintertime, access to the park is VERY LIMITED! Don’t get me wrong, the park is still worth a visit, and the views are absolutely awe-inspiring. I was able to drive the single road 15 miles inside the park for some amazing views. I did the Mountain View hiking which is easy with stunning views.

Hike the Chugach Mountains

If you’re up for a challenging and rewarding hike, don’t miss the opportunity to hike the Harding Icefield Trail. This trail is located in Kenai Fjords National Park and offers breathtaking views from start to finish. The round-trip hike is 8.2 miles with 1,000 ft of elevation gain per mile, summiting at 3,512 feet. The trail can be muddy, icy, and snowy, so make sure to wear good hiking boots and layers. Alpine poles are recommended to navigate the more difficult sections. The solitude and peace you’ll experience in the mountains are truly remarkable. Just be bear aware and take precautions. You can choose how far you go on the trail and turn around at any time.

Take a Scenic Drive on the Seward Highway

As you continue your journey along the Seward Highway, be prepared to be mesmerized by the stunning mountain views and breathtaking scenery. Take your time and make some stops along the way to capture the beauty of the landscape. Keep an eye out for Belugas as you drive along the Cooke Inlet and Turnagain Arm. The Seward Highway offers plenty of opportunities for amazing photo opportunities. Arrive in Seward in the later afternoon or early evening, where you can explore the charming town and indulge in the many activities it has to offer.

Witness the Northern Lights

Visit Fairbanks

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable Alaskan experience, look no further than Fairbanks. From dogsledding through the forests to a scenic flight over the city, it features a wide range of options to satisfy multiple desires in this charming northern town. Fairbanks is a city that’s as big as outdoor adventures and culture. With its location in the middle of Alaska, Fairbanks provides plenty of opportunities for people to explore nature’s wonders. You’ll find everything from ice caves to glaciers and even a natural hot spring where you can soak your bones after a long hike through the wilderness. If you’re chasing such an ideal vacation in Alaska, start planning your trip, book a flight, and hope this guide will help you plan an excellent travel itinerary in interior Alaska.

Stay in a Remote Cabin

For those looking for a truly immersive experience, staying in a remote cabin is a must-do in Alaska during October. It offers a unique opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Alaskan wilderness. Imagine waking up to the crisp fall air and the stunning beauty of nature right outside your doorstep. Whether you’re seeking solitude or a romantic getaway, a remote cabin provides the perfect setting. Surrounded by hiking trails and breathtaking views, you can explore the natural wonders of Alaska at your own pace.

Take a Northern Lights Tour

If you’re visiting Fairbanks in October, don’t miss the opportunity to take a Northern Lights tour. There are several local experts who can guide you through the experience of catching the best Aurora Borealis. Aurora Lodge View is a highly recommended tour company that offers pick-up from your hotel and provides comfortable facilities where you can wait while enjoying hot chocolate and fresh cookies. They will alert you when the lights appear, or you can keep warm by a fire outside and gaze at the sky for that special moment. They will even help you adjust the right settings on your camera to capture the best shots. If the sky is clear, set your camera for long exposure, and you may be able to capture the lights even if you don’t see them clearly with your eyes. It’s recommended to have a good camera, such as a Sony Mirrorless, a tripod, and a trigger if you’re serious about capturing the Aurora Borealis. Make sure to check the Aurora tour prices and availability. Note: Fairbanks is one of the highlights of a 10-day Alaska Itinerary, and there are plenty of other things to do in the area. You can find more information in the Ultimate Travel Guide of Fairbanks.

Go Wildlife Spotting

Take a Wildlife Cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is a majestic wilderness where lush forests and icy seas meet. The park is home to a 700-square-mile icefield called the Harding Icefield, which boasts over 40 glaciers. For experienced hikers, the 8.2 round trip day-hike of the icefield offers spectacular up close and personal views of the glaciers. If hiking isn’t your thing, there are other ways to explore the park, such as boat tours to view the fjords or driving to see the magnificent Exit Glacier. You can also kayak through the Kenai Fjords or camp at one of the park’s summer cabins. Guided day tours are available for those who want to explore on foot due to the icy conditions. The park is known for its rich wildlife, including sea lions, otters, whales, and seabirds. Keep an eye out for these incredible creatures during your wildlife cruise.

Visit Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island, located near the coast of Alaska, is a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. This stunning island is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including brown bears and salmon. One of the highlights of Kodiak Island is the Katmai National Park, which features the Novarupta Volcano and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Visitors can explore Brooks Camp, located along Naknek Lake and Brooks River, where they can witness bears in their natural habitat. The camp offers various activities such as fishing, hiking, and backcountry camping. For a truly unforgettable experience, visitors can take a floatplane to access the camp and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness.

If you’re interested in exploring the marine life around Kodiak Island, you can take a wildlife cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park. This cruise will take you through the pristine waters of the park, where you can spot whales, sea lions, and other marine animals. Another option is to visit Kodiak Island’s SeaLife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center where you can get up close to sea lions, octopuses, and harbor seals.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Kodiak Island has something for everyone. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder that Kodiak Island is a must-visit destination in Alaska.

Go Bear Watching in Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park is a treat for the senses. Located near Kodiak Island and Homer Island, this special space is full of natural wonders and is a haven for brown bears and salmon. The park is home to the Novarupta Volcano, which last erupted in 1912. The volcano sits in the park’s center, an area known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes for the gigantic ash flow that remained after the eruption. Brooks Camp is the park’s most popular destination for visitors. The camp is located along Naknek Lake and Brooks River. It attracts fishermen, hikers, backcountry campers, and those who simply want to catch a glimpse of the bears who live there. The camp is accessible via floatplane and has a lodge, a visitor center, and numerous trails to explore.

Experience Local Festivals

Attend the Alaska Day Festival in Sitka

The Alaska Day Festival in Sitka is a must-attend event for anyone visiting Alaska in October. This festival celebrates the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States on October 18, 1867. It is a time to honor the rich history and diverse cultures of the state. The festival features parades, live music, traditional dances, and delicious food. It is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local community and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Sitka. Don’t miss this chance to be a part of the Alaska Day Festival!

Celebrate Oktoberfest in Anchorage

Anchorage is a city that knows how to have a good time, and Oktoberfest is no exception. During the month of October, Anchorage comes alive with the spirit of this traditional German festival. Celebrate the season with live music, delicious food, and of course, plenty of beer. The city is home to several breweries that offer a wide selection of craft beers to satisfy any beer lover’s palate. Raise your glass and join in the festivities as you sample different brews and indulge in traditional German fare like bratwurst and pretzels. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just looking for a fun way to spend an evening, Oktoberfest in Anchorage is an event you won’t want to miss.

Join the Alaska Native Heritage Month Events

Alaska is rich in Native cultures, and the Alaska Native Heritage Month Events are a wonderful opportunity to learn, appreciate, and celebrate these vibrant traditions. During the month of October, various events and activities are organized throughout the state to showcase the history, information, and culture of Native Alaska.

The Morris Thompson Cultural Center & Visitors Center in Fairbanks is a must-visit destination during this time. Named after Morris Thompson, an Athabascan tribal leader, this cultural center offers displays, engaging activities, and cultural events for the whole family to enjoy. It aims to be a lively gathering space for people of all cultures, fostering learning, appreciation, and respect.

In addition to the cultural center, Explore Fairbanks is another great resource for learning about the city’s history, culture, and attractions. Located in the lovely town of Fairbanks, Explore Fairbanks provides extensive travel information and is an ideal place to seek knowledge about the area.

Joining the Alaska Native Heritage Month Events is not only educational but also a way to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Alaska’s diverse cultures. It’s an experience that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the people and traditions that make this state so unique.

Go Fishing

Salmon Fishing in the Kenai River

Salmon fishing in the Kenai River is a popular activity during October in Alaska. The river is known for its abundant salmon runs, including the coho, or silver salmon. These salmon have a delicate flavor and can be prepared in various ways, such as baking, poaching, smoking, or grilling. The Kenai River offers a great opportunity to witness the salmon run, which attracts bears and other wildlife. It’s an exciting experience to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Halibut Fishing in Homer

Halibut fishing in Homer is a must-do activity for any fishing enthusiast visiting Alaska in October. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, this is the perfect time to catch halibut. The waters around Homer are known for their abundance of halibut, and your captain will have a good idea of where the fish will be. You’ll be provided with all the necessary equipment for a successful fishing trip.

While the thrill of fishing is a highlight in itself, these trips also offer the opportunity to spot whales and dolphins. The jagged mountain peaks surrounding Homer provide a stunning backdrop for your fishing adventure. If you’re lucky enough to catch a halibut, it will be professionally prepared for you and shipped home as a memorable souvenir of your time in Alaska.

Don’t worry about mosquitos during your fishing trip. By October, all the mosquitos have died off, so you can enjoy your fishing experience without any pesky bugs.

Plan your visit to Homer in October and embark on an unforgettable halibut fishing adventure!

Trout Fishing in the Talkeetna Mountains

Trout fishing in the Talkeetna Mountains is a must-do activity for fishing enthusiasts visiting Alaska in October. The pristine rivers and lakes in this region offer abundant opportunities to catch various species of trout, including rainbow trout and lake trout. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, you’ll find plenty of fishing spots to explore.

Here are some tips for a successful trout fishing experience:

  • Research the best fishing spots in the Talkeetna Mountains and plan your itinerary accordingly.
  • Make sure to obtain the necessary fishing licenses and permits before heading out.
  • Pack your fishing gear, including rods, reels, lines, and bait.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather conditions, as October can be chilly in Alaska.
  • Consider hiring a local fishing guide who can provide valuable insights and increase your chances of a successful catch.

Remember, trout fishing in the Talkeetna Mountains is not just about catching fish. It’s also about immersing yourself in the stunning natural beauty of the Alaskan wilderness and enjoying a peaceful and serene fishing experience.

So grab your fishing gear and get ready for an unforgettable trout fishing adventure in the Talkeetna Mountains!


In conclusion, October is a fantastic time to visit Alaska and experience all that this beautiful state has to offer. From exploring the vibrant fall foliage in Denali National Park to witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights in Fairbanks, there are endless opportunities for adventure and discovery. Don’t miss the chance to go wildlife spotting in Kenai Fjords National Park or immerse yourself in the local festivals and cultural events. And of course, no trip to Alaska would be complete without trying your hand at fishing in the pristine rivers and mountains. October in Alaska is truly a magical time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Alaska?

October is a great time to visit Alaska, as you can experience the fall foliage and witness the Northern Lights.

What should I pack for a trip to Alaska in October?

It is recommended to pack warm clothing, including layers, a waterproof jacket, and sturdy hiking boots. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the stunning landscapes.

Are there any festivals or events in Alaska during October?

Yes, there are several festivals and events in Alaska during October, such as the Alaska Day Festival in Sitka and Oktoberfest in Anchorage.

Can I see wildlife in Alaska during October?

Yes, October is a great time for wildlife spotting in Alaska. You can go on wildlife cruises, visit Kodiak Island, and go bear watching in Katmai National Park.

What activities can I do in Alaska during October?

In October, you can experience the fall foliage, witness the Northern Lights, go wildlife spotting, attend local festivals, and go fishing for salmon, halibut, and trout.

Is it cold in Alaska during October?

Yes, Alaska can be cold in October, especially in the northern regions. It is important to dress warmly and be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Are there any guided tours available in Alaska during October?

Yes, there are guided tours available in Alaska during October. You can take a Northern Lights tour, wildlife cruises, and fishing trips.

What are some scenic drives in Alaska during October?

Some scenic drives to take in Alaska during October include the Seward Highway, which offers stunning views of the coastline, and the Denali National Park road, which provides opportunities to see wildlife and fall foliage.

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