Fall in Alaska is almost like fireworks: Brilliant flashes of color illuminate the land, before fading away to the short, dark days of winter. From August through October, stunning hues of yellow, red, orange and purple patchwork across landscape, providing certifiably jaw-dropping sights. Making the most of this time frame requires having an idea of where to go and what to see ahead of time; here are our recommendations for what to see when visiting Alaska in the fall.
Far and away, the best place to see the cascading colors of Alaskan fall is Denali National Park. Six million acres of untouched land unfold like a blanket stretched from one horizon to the other, with members of Alaska’s “big five” wildlife sprinkled in between. Between them and Mount Denali itself rising above the land, each and every view (or souvenir photo that you snap) is certain to instill goosebumps: The shifting colors of the foliage contrast vividly with the big blue sky above.
Just 40 minutes outside Anchorage is Eklutna Lake, a long body of water fed by the nearby Eklutna Glacier. Kayaking across the lake, you’ll see that the shoreline seems to erupt in a vibrant technicolor feast for the eyes, as the foliage blurs fantastic hues ranging from evergreen to golden yellow.
You may think it’s cheating that some the state’s best fall views are along hundreds of miles of railroad track, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Anchorage to Denali is a tried-and-true route, cutting through the rugged scenery from within the luxe accommodations of a comfortable train car. The McKinley Explorer® is a fan favorite: On this domed train specifically used for shuttling passengers between Denali National Park and Anchorage, you’ll kick back, relax and watch the likes of salmon-filled streams and old-growth forests drift by — all of it adorned in bursts of fall colors, of course.
It might seem counterintuitive to list cities as destinations to experience Alaska’s fall colors when there’s so much nature out there, but the simple truth is nature’s show is prevalent every which way you look, including in the metropolitan hubs. The trees that happen to adorn downtown streets and restaurant courtyards change colors just like the trees hundreds of miles away from civilization, instilling an enchanting air to the already quaint cityscape.
Ready to lock in your autumnal excursion to the fall-foliaged frontiers of Alaska? Our travel agents can help make it happen. Not only are they experts in all things travel — from brainstorming getaway ideas to handling all your bookings and reservations — but their close working relationships with all the leading names in travel translate to exclusive perks and amenities. Imagine it: Your travel agent has unlocked bespoke accommodations aboard Holland America Line — the cruise line known for its refreshingly uncrowded ships, exclusive onboard activities and immersive culinary journeys — while you navigate the beautiful Alaskan countryside by way of port-hopping and train riding. That’s a dream getaway come true.