Lighten Up

Lighten Up

The first day of spring means our days are getting longer. Here’s how to prepare for the daylight hours during your visit.

One thing you notice about Alaska is the light – everything from the delicate blues and peaches of twilight to bright sunlight bouncing off glacial ice. This time of year, you can actually see the difference in daylight hours from day to day. As we swing toward the first day of spring on March 21, the sun stays longer and longer above the horizon, leading up to summer solstice on June 21. The Arctic Circle is approaching 24 hours of daylight, and even our southern communities like Ketchikan are gaining minutes a day in daylight hours. This means more time for fun under the Midnight Sun!

Tip Number 1: Along with more daylight, spring brings early season deals for visitors and locals alike. Starting in April, cruise ships are starting to head up the Inside Passage, and whale watching tours are headed out to greet our earliest summer visitors, the gray whales. Land animals are more active, too, and you may even catch a glimpse of a baby moose calf taking its first tentative steps as its mom reaches up to grab a bite of the early willow shoots. Be sure to check out special spring and summer offers for deals on accommodations, activities, and tour packages in our “Hottest Deals in the Coolest State” e-newsletter and find exciting ways to spend your days.

Tip Number 2: Remember to add sunscreen to your Alaska packing list. We’re closest to the sun in summer, which means the sun’s rays are more intense. If you’re out on the water kayaking or fishing, reflected UV light can cause a pretty good sunburn. You’ll warm up quickly, so even hiking in a t-shirt on an overcast day exposes you to UV rays.

Tip Number 3: Pack an eye mask. Alaskans will tell you, we want to make the most of all the daylight hours; still, sometimes it’s hard to go to sleep while it’s still light out! Most accommodations have room-darkening shades, but an eye mask can help keep out those little rays of natural light peeking in while you’re trying to sleep, especially if you’re camping. Try relaxing in a darkened room before going to bed, too, to make the transition to sleep a bit easier. You’ll soon discover sunset in Alaska quickly becomes sunrise.

Tip Number 4: Bring your camera. Artists and photographers are continually inspired by the magical quality of Alaska’s light. You’ll want to capture the sun’s pink alpenglow lighting the mountaintops and the blue of glacial ice (actually more visible on high overcast days). Remember to bring lots of memory cards, too – you don’t want to be caught with a full card when you’re just about to photograph a bald eagle soaring along a shoreline of old growth rainforest.

Tip Number 5: Use those extra daylight hours to your advantage. Take an evening fishing charter, play golf after dinner, climb the hilltops on the longest night of the year on June 21, or watch a double-header baseball game starting at 7 PM on July 4 – you won’t need electric lights when the second game begins at 10!

Need more inspiration? Check out our photo gallery. It’s “enlightening”!