May is an astounding month here in the Great North. Snow may or may not be on the ground this month—and, even with the warmer temperatures, you still never know—snow may (or may not) fall from the sky at any time. Alaskans, delighted at the return of the long sunny days and the arrival of summer, are all ready to hang flower baskets on their porches, hungry for the green and the happy blooms full of color, but all Alaskans know that baskets hung outside in May are not guaranteed. A 60-degree day may still dip to below-freezing temperatures at night.
While the flower baskets might need to be brought in for the night, our native Alaskan plant species can handle the temperature dips just fine. It is astounding, for those who take a walk through the spruce-laden forests during the month of May, to see the many varieties of plants unfurling their way out of the ground, often right next to a slowly-thawing mound of snow!
The month of May is when the green suddenly explodes, the beginning of the month starting out with a mostly bare-looking earth, but within a short time-span, lawns are green, flowers are blooming and the vibrant richness of summer is fully engaging. If you were an Alaskan who was tapping your paper birch trees in April (see picture above), creating delicious syrups and wines from the bounty of birch sap gathered, you understand exactly why May culminates in an explosion of green. With such a rich springtime gathering of water and nutrients from the soil, what plant wouldn’t?
Plants aren’t the only things waking up. Migratory birds are in! It really is hard to describe with mere words the sense electricity and excitement that sparkles through the air when a huge flock of excited shore birds arrives. On the estuary that the Diamond M Ranch overlooks, we watch large groups coming in, the neat and tidy flocks exploding with joy as they arrive, circling and dipping and diving through the air, all the once-perfect-V-like arrangements breaking into a thousand happy feathered individual birds, celebratory honks and shrieks and cries of delight filling the air.
Alaska is the destination hotspot for all sorts of winged species. Beginning in April and continuing through the month of May, you may see swans, loons, robins, hummingbirds, and a host of other birds arriving “home” to nest and raise their young. (For an excellent article on this topic here, information on shore birds here, water fowl here, and general info here).
One of the best things about visiting in May is that it will be friendly on your pocket book. The tourism and hospitality industry here in Alaska does a fantastic job of helping travelers experience our great state, and in May, since most people plan their trips to Alaska around the salmon run in July, you will have them almost entirely to yourself! Everyone is getting their cruises, guided tours and hospitality services ramped up and ready to go for the summer rush, but because of the smaller flow of people, May prices tend to be much lower than they will be in just a couple months.
For those wanting to experience Alaska, but without a lot of spare spending money, a vacation here during the month of May could be just what you are looking for. For example, at the Diamond M Ranch, you could spend a week in a beautiful one bedroom apartment suite during the month of May, complete with a full kitchen and including your own private deck overlooking the Kenai River estuary, mountain ranges and more, and do it for about $200 less than you would in July!
See the rest of this article and more at kenaialaskavacation.blogspot.com.