Shortest Day In Alaska

All of Alaska does not go dark in winter! But the further north you go, the darker it gets.

Shortest Day of the Year

On the shortest day of the year (December 21, winter solstice), you’ll find a range of daylight hours depending on where you are:

TownLocationSunriseSunsetTotal Daylight
JuneauInside Passage (Southeast
Alaska Panhandle)
8:45 am3:07 pm6 hours 22 minutes
AnchorageSouthcentral10:14 am3:42 pm5 hours 28 minutes
FairbanksInterior10:50 am2:41 pm3 hours 42 minutes
Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow)The Arctic: 330 miles
north of Arctic Circle
January 23November 1867 days of darkness

Even though residents of Utqiagvik, the northernmost town in Alaska, won't see the sun for 67 days come winter, they enjoy the midnight sun all summer - over 80 days of uninterrupted daylight. Anchorage enjoys a more modest amount of daylight in summer than Utqiagvik - but that's still a good 19 hours between sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice.

What The Arctic Circle Is

The Arctic Circle is the boundary of the true midnight sun. South of this line the sun rises and sets all year round. Interested in seeing the northern lights? The dark time of year is your chance. Check out our recommendations for the best northern lights viewing tours.

Daily Gain In Daylight Hours

Likewise, the gain in daylight as you get closer to the equinox (midway between the solstices) increases as you head further north. On Spring Equinox, March 22:

  • Utqiagvik gains about 9 minutes of light per day
  • Fairbanks, about 7 minutes
  • Anchorage, about 6 minutes
  • Juneau, about 5 minutes

In other words, Anchorage experiences the equivalent of a daylight savings time change every two weeks!

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