Darkness has returned to the Last Frontier: the few tourists left in Alaska these days tend to be foreigners -- seasoned travelers who are generally "kinder and less demanding," according to perennial seasonal workers up in Glitter Gulch, just beyond the turnoff into Denali National Park and Preserve.

Cooler temperatures, the return of aurora borealis and Alaska State Fair kick-off all remind Alaskans that winter is just around the corner.

Those dependent on summer tourism will soon close up shop and head Outside for a little rest and recovery. Alaska Airlines is offering a special shoulder-season sale, with airfares valid through the first week of December. Purchase them by Monday, Aug. 27, 2012:

  • Fly Anchorage to St. Louis roundtrip for $448
  • Fly Anchorage to Las Vegas roundtrip for $459
  • Fly Fairbanks to Las Vegas one-way for $279
  • Fly Fairbanks to Portland, Ore. one-way for $289
  • Fly Fairbanks to Phoenix one-way for $299
  • Fly Fairbanks to Seattle one-way for $269
  • Fly Juneau to Seattle one way for $199
  • Fly Juneau to Las Vegas one-way for $229
  • Fly Juneau to Palm Springs, Calif. one-way for $229
  • Fly Juneau to Tuscon, Ariz. one-way for $239

More deals were available for in-state travel through Dec. 12. See a full list of Alaska airfare deals. And speaking of in-state travel, a few hotels and cabin rentals from Glitter Gulch to Healy offer end-of-season discounts for Alaskans who know better than attempt a Denali visit before mid-August. Specials were listed at Denali Park Hotel in Healy and also at the Denali Bluffs Hotel just outside the park gates.