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Encounter majestic landscapes and diverse wildlife on an expedition into the heart of Alaska’s untouched wilderness. Experience the rugged beauty of Denali National Park on naturalist-led excursions, and search for moose, caribou, wolves, grizzly bears, and Dall sheep. Hike amid the soaring peaks of the Alaska Range and journey along the stunningly scenic Seward Highway. Cap off your adventure with a cruise on Prince William Sound, home to humpback whales and towering tidewater glaciers.
Explore Alaska’s rolling tundra and taiga forests, spotting an array
of wildlife, including caribou, moose, wolves, and Dall sheep.
Immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of Denali National Park
on a variety of hikes, taking in views of the mountain that gave the
park its name.
Cruise through spectacular Prince William Sound to spot humpback
whales and orcas, and experience the thunder of calving glaciers.
Stay in private cabins in the heart of Denali, and at a mountain resort
surrounded by snow-dusted glaciers and peaks.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Days 1 & 2 — Fairbanks, Alaska/Denali National Park and Preserve
Arrive in Fairbanks and check into our hotel. The
next morning, travel into the heart of Denali
National Park in search of moose, caribou, gray
wolves, grizzly bears, and Dall sheep. Settle into
our remote lodge in the former mining settlement
of Kantishna, surrounded by glacier-fed,
braided rivers and the peaks of the Alaska Range.
Pike's Waterfront Lodge; Denali Backcountry Lodge (B,L,D)
Days 3 & 4 — Denali National Park and Preserve
Spend the next two days exploring Denali's magnificent
interior. Set out on hikes or walks of varying
degrees of difficulty, or try panning for gold.
While in the park, keep your eye out for migrating
birds, including golden plovers, arctic loons,
jaegers, and eagles. Weather permitting, take an
optional flightseeing trip around Denali,
North America's highest mountain, or hike to
viewpoints to photograph its soaring 20,237-foot
peak. (B, L, D daily)
Day 5 — Denali National Park and Preserve/Talkeetna
Take advantage of an early morning drive out of
the park to spot wildlife during this active period. Then head to Talkeetna on the Denali Star train and explore this historic Alaskan village, a launching point for climbers headed up
Denali. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (B,L)
Day 6 — Talkeetna/Girdwood
This morning, 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.” Continue to the scenic town of
Girdwood, and explore this glacial valley on a hike
through lush rain forest. 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. Later this
evening, celebrate your Alaska adventure with a
farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Girdwood/Anchorage
Enjoy up-close encounters with Alaska’s wild residents
at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center,
which rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals
to the wild. After lunch, return to Anchorage and
connect with your flight home. (B,L)
Geographer, adventurer, environmental educator, and 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorer M Jackson studies and writes about glaciers and climate change. M earned a doctorate from the University of Oregon in geography and glaciology, where she examined how climate change transformed people and ice communities in Iceland. A veteran U.S. Fulbright Scholar in both Turkey and Iceland, M currently serves as a U.S. Fulbright Ambassador. M holds a Masters of Science degree from the University of Montana, where she focused on climate change and Alaskan glaciers. M served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, and 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. Her 2015 book While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change weaves together the parallel stories of what happens when the climates of a family and a planet change. M has led National Geographic Student Expeditions programs in Alaska and Iceland.
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 guests at
different activity levels. In Denali, guests can choose
easy, moderate, or challenging hikes each day, ranging
from one to nine miles.
Chugach National Forest note
This trip operates under a Special Use Permit in the Chugach National Forest. Backroads is an Equal Opportunity Provider.