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Discover stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife on a family expedition into
the heart of Alaska’s untouched wilderness. Stay in cozy cabins in Denali
National Park and in alpine luxury at a beautiful mountain resort. Head out
on naturalist-led hikes to search for moose, caribou, wolves, grizzly bears,
and Dall sheep; and look for wildflowers and animals on a scavenger hunt.
Meet Alaska’s wild residents up close at a local conservation center, and
scan the horizon for whales and other marine life on a wildlife cruise through
Prince William Sound.
Explore the beauty and vastness of Denali National Park on a variety of hikes, spotting caribou, moose, wolves, and more.
Pan for gold in glacier-fed rivers.
Look for calving glaciers, humpback whales, and playful sea otters on a Prince William Sound cruise.
Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, home of orphaned or injured moose, coyotes, bears, and other animals.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Fairbanks, Alaska
Arrive in Fairbanks and check into our hotel.
Pike's Waterfront Lodge
Day 2 — Fairbanks, Alaska/Denali National Park
Meet in Fairbanks, and travel south through taiga forests to Denali National Park. As we drive into the heart of this incredible wilderness, keep your eyes peeled for moose, caribou, gray wolves, Dall sheep, and maybe even a grizzly bear. Arrive at our remote lodge in the former mining settlement of Kantishna, surrounded by glacier-fed rivers and the snowy peaks of the Alaska Range. Denali Backcountry Lodge (B,L,D)
Days 3 & 4 — Denali National Park
Spend the next two days exploring Denali's wilderness with a variety of activities. Join your expert on hikes and walks for all ages, and learn about the behavior and habitat of Denali's wild residents. Keep your binoculars handy to spot migrating birds, including golden plovers, arctic loons, jaegers, and eagles. Later, kids can go sleuthing for wildflowers and animals, and pan for gold in a glacier-fed river. A flightseeing trip around Denali, North America's highest mountain, can also be arranged (at an additional cost).
Denali Backcountry Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Day 5 — Denali/Talkeetna
This morning, wake up early with the kids and catch Denali's wildlife at one of its most active periods as we drive out of the park. The head to Talkeetna on the Denali Star Train and explore this historic Alaskan village which serves as a launching point for climbers of Denali. Enjoy a family dinner on your own, and watch as the sun sets over the ice-capped summit of this legendary mountain.
Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (B,L)
Day 6 — Talkeetna/Girdwood
Drive south of Anchorage along the stunningly scenic Seward Highway, past Turnagain Arm and the snowcapped Chugach mountains, which seem to rise out of the mirrored waters of Cook Inlet. This is part of a route that National Geographic has named one of its “Drives of a Lifetime.” Arrive in the scenic town of Girdwood, a former supply camp for gold miners turned ski town, and settle into our hotel tucked amid the mountains. Then meet with a member of the National Geographic-funded Eyak Language Revitalization Project. Hotel Alyeska (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Prince William Sound
Embark on a day cruise on Prince William Sound, where the rich waters attract a variety of wildlife, from humpback whales and orcas to playful sea otters, puffins, and seals. Against a spectacular mountain backdrop, glide past towering tidewater glaciers, and listen for the telltale crackle and boom of impending glacier calving. Keep an eye out for the brown bears that come here to feed on salmon. Later this evening, celebrate your family Alaska adventure with a farewell dinner. Hotel Alyeska (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Girdwood/Anchorage
This morning, meet shaggy bison, elegant elk, coyotes, and a whole bunch of bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals to the wild. Have your camera ready as you get up-close to these magnificent animals and learn about their conservation. After lunch, return to Anchorage and connect with your flight home.
Jason is an environmental educator, wildlife photographer, and videographer who has been leading expeditions from the Equator to the Arctic Circle for more than 20 years. He is a certified Master Naturalist specializing in wolf and bear ecology. Jason has been called an "encyclopedia" by the New York Times, and his work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. He was recently part of a National Geographic grant team documenting brown bears and polar bears in the Alaskan arctic. Jason divides his time between Alaska and Montana, where he lives near Yellowstone National Park with his family and 70 sled dogs. Jason loves to share his passion for wild places!
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
This expedition is designed to accommodate both adults and kids at different activity levels. In Denali, easy, moderate, or challenging hikes are available each day, ranging from one to nine miles.
In addition to our National Geographic Expert, every departure includes an extra leader as kids coordinator to ensure both kids and parents have an expedition of a lifetime.
This trip operates under a Special Use Permit in the Chugach National Forest. Backroads is an Equal Opportunity Provider.