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How to Properly Do Summer in Alaska

by Jennifer Gracey May 28, 2018

While summertime is cause for joy and celebration, doing it right takes a degree of forethought and local finesse, especially in the wilds of Alaska. The 907 Alaska-grown tribe has its own special way of relishing that one magnificent, snowless season of the year, and while each of us has our own unique spin depending on where in the state we live and play, there are a number of common and overlapping threads. Here are twelve activities guaranteed to teach you how to properly do summer in Alaska.

1. Stock up on bug spray, mosquito coils, and citronella candles.

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Like every other Alaskan creature, you’ve been uncaged and broken free from the unrelenting oh-so-restricting confines of winter. The only thing you’ll be doing from this point forward is spending every possible second out of doors and deeply breathing in Alaska’s crisp and pristine air.

To discourage Alaska’s state bird from interrupting your sacred communing-with-nature moments — stockpiling ample supplies of bug spray, mosquito coils, and citronella candles are foundational elements of enjoying summer to the uttermost.

Ignore or overlook this one and the mosquitoes will eat you alive.

2. Build a rocking backyard fire pit.

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After winter, we all need a practice run or two of this essential Alaskan activity. Considering slightly rusty cookout skills and the need to get ourselves in top form for summer’s inaugural wilderness expeditions, the Alaskan backyard fire pit is a delightful summer must-have that will yield an excellent ROI (hot dogs, toasted marshmallows, and s’mores).

3. Polish up your hospitality skills.

And be ready to welcome the annual out-of-state visitor stampede. Be they grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, old friends, former bosses, or some combination of the above, summer is when people come a call’n. You play multiple roles as B&B host, personal shopper, tour director, wilderness guide, survival-skills instructor, and (in extreme cases) search and rescue/disaster first responder.

Regardless of the whos, hows, or whys, there’s nothing better than sending guests off with epic Alaska-worthy experiences.

4. Get a fishing license.

This is the most important ‘summer is coming’ activity of the year for Alaskans. If you’re on the grid, it’s likely you’ll even receive a friendly email reminder announcing it’s time to start thinking about getting your great Alaskan fishing game on.

5. Then fish like your pants are on fire.

If you’re Alaskan and you’re not out fishing, making plans to be out fishing, talking about and/or daydreaming of fishing, something is seriously awry and must be remedied immediately.

6. Hike every trail within a 4-hour radius of your home.

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After all, every Alaskan knows that when it’s not possible to be out on the water angling and stocking the freezer for winter, the only other decent thing to do is appreciate the mind-bending beauty of Alaska and explore every inch.

7. Road trip it.

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No Alaskan summer is done well unless there’s at least one five-hour road trip in the books. We’re as much in love with the destination as the journey required to get us there.

8. Go boating.

Boating is the ultimate way to layer one ‘ultimate Alaska’ experience after another into a single excursion. Boating means you can fish if the mood strikes. Boating means you can float down lazy rivers. Boating means you can battle whitewater rapids. Boating means you can cruise along Alaska’s coastal areas and appreciate her beauty from a totally different vantage point. Boating means you can come into close contact with some of Alaska’s most incredible water-dwelling creatures. Boating means you’ll be in the middle of ‘No Peopleville’ quicker than you can find sticks and build a fire.

9. Visit the nearest glacier.

Walk on ice from Earth’s most recent ice age? Listen to the symphony of sound as the ice sheets crack, pop, and rumble in their constant shifting? Search for teeny, tiny ice worms? Gaze in wonder at the ethereal shades of reflected light? A resounding yes to all of the above.

10. Experience the most daylight in the US.

Alaskan summers average 18-24 hours depending on where in the state you’re located and there isn’t an Alaskan who doesn’t love every second of seeing the summer sun. After months of seemingly interminable darkness, we’re all about capitalizing on our abundant daylight hours.

Revel in the longest day of the year (June 21st) and enjoy more continuous daylight than any other location in the entire USA, or plan on spending the ultimate summer sun chase in Utqiaġvik (aka Barrow) — you’ll get to say you’ve been to the northernmost city in the US and experience a whopping 80 + days of nonstop daylight.

Worried about sleep with that much light in your Alaskan life? Psh! It’s summer! Ain’t no respectable Alaskan got time for that.

11. Play golf at all hours.

Golfing in Alaska means breathtaking views and round-the-clock playing. You’ll think you’ve died and gone to golfer’s heaven with tee times starting as early as 4:30 AM and going well past 11 PM.

Get on course early enough and you’ll likely find yourself sharing the green with feathered and four-footed varieties. It won’t be too hard to come away with a story that eclipses the golfers’ holy grail — the elusive hole-in-one.

12. Enjoy a bottle of suds.

In Alaska, there’s no shortage of craft beer outlets from which to experience a wonderful selection of locally-made cold ones. Scattered statewide and available in many retail outlets, pubs, brewhouses, and eateries, they’re fairly easy to come across. Picking up a bottle or two to enjoy after a long day beating through the untamed Alaskan bush or ordering a sampler selection with a meal will add that much more Alaska to your summertime repertoire.

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