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 our naturalist 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 put their treasure-hunting skills to the test on an outdoor scavenger hunt, and search for wildflowers and animals. A flightseeing trip around Mount McKinley, 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 Mount McKinley. 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. This afternoon, young explorers will get into the frontier spirit with an exciting gold-panning excursion, led by our kids’ coordinator. Meanwhile, adults can go hiking in this glacier valley or relax and unwind at our hotel. Tonight, adults enjoy dinner on their own, while youngsters will head into town for a kid-friendly meal. 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.
M Jackson is an adventurer and environmental educator pursuing a doctorate in geography and Earth science at the University of Oregon, where she is researching glaciers and climate change. A veteran U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Turkey and Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, M holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Montana, where she focused on climate change and Alaskan glaciers. M is a nationally registered emergency medical technician with extensive experience "in search and rescue, firefighting, and removing cats from trees" in Southeast Alaska. She’s worked for more than ten years in Alaska and the Yukon Territory guiding backcountry trips and exploring glacial systems. M has led National Geographic Student Expeditions programs in Alaska and Iceland.