Best time to travel to Alaska

Caribou Spring Migration in Alaska

Caribou herds migrate across Alaska twice a year. And both times are equally impressive

Best time: March–late June

Caribou Spring Migration
Caribou Spring Migration

The spring caribou migration throughout Alaska is considered one of the most impressive wildlife phenomena in this part of the world. Around 200,000 animals move to the north each year; such migration starts in March and lasts until late June.

The caribou divide into big groups, so during this period you can see even tens of thousands of animals at one spot. They​ follow three major routes: the Richardson, Barn, and the British Mountains​, the Old Crow route which crosses the Porcupine River ​near the settlement of Old Crow, and the Arctic Village route which crosses the East Fork of the Chandler River. Those routes run through endless tundra ridges, so spring caribou migration is even more spectacular.

Practical info

When is the best time of year to witness the caribou spring migration in Alaska?

March through late June marks the best period to catch a glimpse of the spring caribou migration in Alaska. Tens of thousands of caribou can be viewed at a spot during this time, when about 200,000 animals follow three significant routes. The herds move to calving grounds, and late June is the most favorable time to witness their crossing of rivers. Show more

How many caribou typically make up a single migration herd in Alaska?

Herds of caribou in Alaska, during the spring transfer, may consist of several hundred to over ten thousand animals. While the size of herds can vary considerably, a single migration herd in Alaska, during the spring season, may include tens of thousands of caribou. The extraordinary amount of caribou in a single location creates breathtaking views of the massive herds. Show more

What are the major routes that the caribou herds follow during their spring migration?

The spring caribou migration in Alaska includes three major routes filled with migrating animals, such as the Richardson, Barn, and the British Mountains. Additional migrating routes also cross through the Porcupine and Arctic Village, with several river crossings along the way. The migrating paths typically pass through the tundra ridges, providing an excellent platform to watch the vast numbers of caribou. Show more

Are there any specific locations in Alaska that are particularly good for viewing the migration herds?

The Denali Highway and the Dalton Highway, near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, make for great destinations for viewing the spring caribou migration. Alaska State Parks Department manages several viewing facilities such as Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, which offers information centers and campsites. Helicopter tours, complimenting aerial views of the migration, are usually available for viewers. Show more

How does the spring caribou migration compare to the fall migration in terms of size and spectacle?

With around 200,000 animals involved, the spring caribou migration in Alaska is, without a doubt, a breathtaking sight to witness. In comparison, the fall migration, where caribou move in the opposite direction, sees fewer movements. Nonetheless, the peaceful atmosphere of snow-capped mountains in the background makes for an equally stunning scene. In terms of splendor and natural beauty, both the spring and fall migrations are pretty much on equal footing. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin