Destination Guides

Alaska in September: A Complete Guide to Visiting in Autumn

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Crisp mornings where you can see your breath. Cold sunlight on golden leaves. The chance to spot the aurora dancing in the sky… September is a great month to visit Alaska – especially when you know how to prepare and make the most of it.

I love visiting Alaska in September; it’s one of my favorite months to visit. Mr. V and I took a delightful two-week land-and-sea trip in September 2021 that included some of my favorite destinations like Denali and Sitka, and we’re planning a return trip in September 2024 to take Baby V on her first Alaska trip (a cruise!).

Alaska in September Hero

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska in September and want all the details specific to the month of your visit, you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find September-specific Alaska travel info: general weather and daylight hours info, special events that only happen in September in Alaska, and tips on what to pack specifically in this transition month/shoulder season. Ready to learn the last details you need to prepare for your September trip?

In this post, I promote travel to destinations that is the traditional lands of many Alaska Native groups, including the Aleut, Athabascan, Haida, Inupiat, Tlingit, and Yuit peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in June 2023, and was updated most recently in September 2024.

Weather in Alaska in September

As I always say, talking about the weather in Alaska is not as easy as other states. Mainly, because the temperatures and weather vary significantly within Alaska due to its size and diverse geography.

September in Alaska marks the transition from summer to fall, meaning longer nights and cooler weather start to make an appearance. On average, you can expect September temperatures to typically range from around 40°F to 55°F. There may be some rainfall, too – and even the potential for snow as the month goes on.

For the sake of logistics, I’ve left below a brief description of the weather you can expect in different regions of Alaska. 

  • Southcentral Alaska (including Anchorage, Seward, and Homer) boasts average lows around 40°F and highs of around 55°F. Southeast Alaska (including Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan) is very similar.
  • The Interior region (like Denali National Park and Fairbanks) is right in the middle, with temperatures ranging between 35°F and 55°F. Yup, it’s getting cold over here!
  • As you’d expect, the Arctic has the coldest temperatures in Alaska in September, ranging from average lows of 28°F to average highs of 33°F. Be ready to bundle up if you’re visiting this part of the state. 

Daylight Hours in Alaska in September

Again, how much sunlight the state receives depends on the region. But, as I said before, Alaska is transitioning into fall in September, so daylight hours start to decrease. 

On average, Anchorage and other Southcentral destinations receive about 15 hours of daylight. If we move further north, Fairbanks and Denali have around 17 hours of daylight depending on how far north you go. In the Arctic Circle, September marks the beginning of the polar night – that period of continuous darkness when the sun does not rise above the horizon. You can expect around 14 hours of daylight. 

Top Events in Alaska in September

Just because things are getting colder it doesn’t mean there are less fun things to do! Below you’ll find eleven events that you can include in your trip around Alaska in September.

Alaska State Fair (through Sept. 4)

First up, you have the Alaska State Fair. The fair was established in 1936 and has become an annual tradition in September in Alaska. This event is special because it offers a little bit of everything. There are fun contests, art exhibits, games, rodeos, and even livestock exhibitions.

Oh, and the food trucks! You’ll have the chance to munch on some Alaskan culinary delights. This year, Justin Moore, among others, will be the musician in charge of musicalizing the festival. Tickets are already available, so make sure you get them!

Mudball Classic Softball Tournament (Aug. 16 – Sept. 2)

Sports enthusiasts can participate in the Mudball Classic Softball Tournament. This annual tournament invites softball teams from around the United States to play in Sitka. You’ll be able to enjoy a fun time with fellow locals and travelers who want to show off their throwing and catching skills. So grab your gear, lace up your shoes, and prepare to dive into the ultimate sporting extravaganza in beautiful Sitka.

Girdwood Fungus Fair (Aug. 31 – Sept. 1)

Alaska in September - Fungus Fair

If you have interests in botany or simply enjoy the wonders nature has to offer, boy, you’ll love the Girdwood Fungus Fair. This annual event invites you to discover and learn about the overwhelming diversity of Alaska’s fungi and forests.

The fair is run by the most diverse kind of people, from artists who love painting mushrooms to owners of gourmet mushroom businesses. They will announce the schedule of events in late July, and registration for forays and workshops will open in mid-August. 

Alaska World Arts Festival (Sept. 13-26)

While Alaska may not be the place that first comes to your mind when thinking about art, the state loves to create opportunities where artists can show their work and people can appreciate it.

The Alaska World Arts Festival takes place in Homer and covers all the disciplines in the world of arts. You’ll enjoy dance and theater performances by local groups, literate and storytelling exhibits, and much more. 

Klondike Road Relay (Sept. 6-7)

Runners can also stuffy their yearning for new challenges in Alaska in September. The Klondike Road Relay is a race that follows the White Pass, the 109-mile historic trail used by some Gold Rush Stampeders.

The race begins in Skagway and ends in Whitehorse, Yukon; you’ll pass through some breathtaking landscapes and even the traditional territories of the Chilkoot Tlingit people, the Carcross Tagish First Nation, the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. If you don’t feel like getting your heart rate up, you can come and cheer for your favorite athlete.

Cordova Fungus Festival (Sept. 13-15)

The Cordova Fungus Festival is another opportunity for you to venture into the enchanting realm of fungi as you explore a world hidden beneath the forest floor. But this festival goes a bit further as it tries to explore and explain how the life-cycle of fungus, salmon, and the forest are interconnected.

There will also be workshops for kids and artsy activities, like mushroom handcrafting and harvest-themed art shows. Foodies can attend the Wild Harvest Tasting Party to sample some local flavors!

Sacred Acre Festival (Sept. 6-8)

Sacred Acre defines itself as the best electronic music festival in Alaska. It takes place in Ninilchik and invites some of the world’s top electronic music artists to play in the largest and most visually stunning laser and digital art stage displays ever showcased in Alaska.

But it’s not all about music and dancing; the festival also has an environmental focus and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to local and national charities that want to limit the fishing practice of trawling.

Harvest Moon Local Food Festival (Sept. 21)

Alaska in September - Harvest Moon Local Food Festival

If you are always scouting for the best restaurants wherever you go, you can’t miss the Harvest Moon Local Food Festival in Kenai. This food festival is a local effort to teach people how to eat healthier and gain more access to local foods.

All the food vendors sell products that have been grown, harvested, or made in Alaska. There will also be a chef’s tent where cooks will be teaching culinary skills and new recipes for you to take back home. Take the time to explore the grounds, enjoying new flavors while listening to local bands!

Anchorage Oktoberfest (TBC)

Alaska in September - Oktoberfest

Last but not least, Anchorage’s Oktoberfest takes place in September in Alaska. Because what’s better than enjoying a good pint of German beer when it’s starting to get cold outside?

Anchorage celebrates the Oktoberfest at the Egan Center. There will also be food stalls with local culinary delights and a few German-inspired dishes. In years past, The Alaska Blaskapelle and The Alaska Polka Chips performed, and 2024 details will be announced soon.

(There are occasionally other Oktoberfest-themed events in Alaska; someday I’ll write a post rounding up all of these – let me know in the comments if you want me to do that!)

What to Pack for Alaska in September 

September is a transition month in Alaska; it can start out quite pleasant and sunny and end in snow. That makes packing even trickier than during the more predictable summer months of June, July, and August.

Here are my tips for what to pack specifically in September, but you should also review my general Alaska packing list and my Alaska cruise packing list too. (If you’re planning an end-of-season Alaska cruise, be sure to read my thoughts on that too…)

  • As always, you should pack layers – especially rain-proof (not rain-resistant) layers if the forecast is even slightly cloudy during your visit.
  • Choosing the right outer layers is an essential but tricky part of what to pack; I have a guide for the jackets and outer layers I recommend for Alaska travel; September is a prime time to pack down in addition to wind-cutting and rain-proof layers.
  • Don’t forget to pack waterproof footwear in addition to any shoes/boots you want to walk around on nicer days. (I have a whole guide to shoes and boots for Alaska including rain boots.) Wool socks will do you well too.
  • Late summer can be mosquito season, especially if it has been rainy earlier in the summer; here’s a guide to the mosquito repellants I recommend.
  • While I normally recommend an eye mask, you can afford to not bring it from September on into winter; it’s dark enough each night that you won’t need it (though you might still want it!).

That pretty much covers it, right? Have any other questions about what to pack for Alaska in September, things to do in Alaska in September, or anything else for your Alaska trip? Let me know in the comments below!

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I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

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