Like all places, spring is a transition time and Alaska is no different. Many know Alaska to be the ‘land of the midnight sun’, however summer is not the only time of year The Last Frontier shines! As the short, cold winter days fade away Alaska starts to come alive in the spring. Believe it or not, by early March most of the state has close to 11 hours of daylight and by the end of the month some parts of Alaska will have 13 hours of daylight. That being sad, it still gets dark enough that there are still opportunities to see the Northern Lights at night – something that you won’t be seeing during the summer months.
With longer days, some of the Alaskan wildlife starts making some appearances. Many voyage to Alaska for whale sightseeing opportunities, and among the first of the marine mammals to migrate north is the Gray Whale. Gray Whales migrate up to Alaska from the coast of Mexico, swimming close to the coast all the way up to Alaska – a journey that is anywhere between 5,000-7,000 miles. Many other marine mammals will make their way up north in the spring months to spend their summers along Alaska’s coast. A great place to go see some of Alaska’s marine life would be on the Marine Highway.
Some marine mammals like walruses and beluga whales that spend their winters in the Alaskan waters start making their way further north as waters warm and the ice packs retreat. For the next few months they will be easily spotted along the coastline.
Further inland, many land mammals start making more appearances. As spring approaches Alaska’s bears start to emerge out of their hibernation. Bears further north spend a lot more time in hibernation than bears in Southern Alaska.
Without all the fresh foliage this can be a good time of year to see wildlife before the greenery camouflages them. Moose can be seen grazing this time of year. Caribou make their way to their calving grounds, and by late spring the moose are doing the same to give birth to their calves. Sometimes our friends at MICA Guides get to see some of these young calves up close!
Marine mammals are not the only animals migrating up north during the spring months. There are almost 500 species of birds that call Alaska home for some of the year and many migrate up in the spring to spend their summer nesting, eating, and breeding. Over the course of the spring months millions of birds will come through to Alaska.
The award for furthest traveled when it comes to migratory flight is the Bar-Tailed Godwit which travels around 7,000 miles from Alaska to New Zealand! Birders flock to Alaska to catch a glimpse of some hard-to-find birds included, puffins, eiders, eagles, and more!
Before all the tourists reach Alaska for the summer months, our animal friends make their way up north via land, sea, and sky. No wonder the Last Frontier is such a popular spot for wildlife viewing!
Caroline is an avid outdoorsman but blends into city life from time to time. She has worked in the outdoor industry as a climbing instructor and various logistics positions. You can often find her meandering through the nearest park or sitting at the local pub working on website content.