SHORTLIST

Outdoor Alaska

A wildlife trip to awaken the senses. Alaska is pure pristine wilderness - discover unspoilt views of snow-capped mountains, sparkling rivers and emerald-green glacial lakes, searching for whales, bears, moose and caribou on the way. The glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park and the spectacular peak of Denali are just two highlights of Alaska's great outdoors.

Denali National Park - A truly inspiring wilderness areas containing Denali, the highest mountain in North America, and spectacular hiking trails

Prince William Sound - Take a sea kayaking trip to the magnificent Shoup Glacer

Wrangell St.Elias National Park - Stay in a simple but truly historic hotel in this mountainous location

Highlights
Exploration of Alaska's dramatic wilderness|Sea kayak to giant glaciers and explore alpine tundra|Wildlife spotting; from grizzly bears to whales

Tour information
Transport: Ferry, Maxiwagon
Tour staff: Explore Tour Leader
Meals :Breakfast 0, Lunch 0 & Dinner 0

Tour details
Tour Provider Explore!
Price From
$9,130
Number of Days
12
Start Location
Anchorage, United States Of America
End Location
Anchorage, United States Of America
Age Range
Avg. 30+
Group Size
5 to 18
Tour Style
Standard
Tour Themes
Adventure
Physical Rating
Moderate
Itinerary Open all
Day 1 - Join tour in Anchorage
Arrive in Anchorage. This modern city is the gateway to thousands of miles of wilderness, overlooked by giant snow-capped peaks and flanked by the icy waters of the Cook Inlet.

Due to the number of evening flights into Anchorage, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive at any time. We don't provide arrival transfers on this tour, but information on how to reach the hotel will be provided in your final documentation.

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Centre will really set the scene and provide a great introduction to the many native cultures in this vast state. Alternatively, try the local beer at one of the city's many micro-breweries.
Day 2 - Drive to Valdez, on the Prince William Sound
Departing Anchorage this morning, we will take the beautiful drive to Valdez, passing high mountains, waterfalls, roads winding through a rock-cut canyon and a view of the Matanuska Glacier. You may spot moose along the way. Crossing Thompson Pass, the views are dramatic as we reach Keystone Canyon, where sheer cliff walls covered in lime green moss present cascades of crystal water tumbling over the edge to the river below. 'Bridal Veil' and 'Horsetail' Falls evocatively describe the scene. The canyon is steeped in history from the gold rush period and this was once the scene of a bloody gun battle, whilst the remains of the sled trail used in the early days are still visible.

Valdez is the terminus of the 800 mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline which begins in Prudh Bay on the Arctic Ocean. This astounding feat of engineering traverses the Brooks Range, crossing rivers and valleys, above and below ground, before finally feeding its oil into the waiting tankers. The economy of the town depends very much on the oil industry and salmon fisheries, and is our base for tonight.

Today's journey will take approximately 10 hours depending on the number and length of stops that we make en route.
Day 3 - Sea kayaking on the Prince William Sound to the Shoup Glacier
Today we set out on a full day trip towards the Shoup Glacier, involving a guided paddle in sea kayaks within the calm, protected waters of the Prince William Sound. We'll be travelling with a kayak guide who will give us some on-land instruction before we jump into a water taxi for a ride to Shoup Bay, where our kayaks are waiting for us. From the bay, we paddle up the waterfall-lined walls of a fjord, past a nesting site of black kittiwakes and towards the face of the Shoup Glacier. This will take around two hours, before taking a short walk on the rocky beach and eating our packed lunches with a glacier view. We return through the fjord the way we came, and take a taxi boat back to Valdez. The whole day will be approximately eight hours with around four hours of sea kayaking. Along the way the guide will introduce us to the rich history of the local area.
Day 4 - Journey to McCarthy via Washington Glacier
Our route today takes us through more spectacular scenery in Alaska, as we drive through forested hills and past cascading rivers, fed by small glaciers on the Chugach Mountains. We follow our route back across the Thompson Pass, making a stop at the Worthington Glacier, before heading east through Chitina and onto the McCarthy Road. Stopping at the Copper River, we then cross the Kuskulana River on a narrow railroad bridge high above the water and continue through a vast expanse of untouched wilderness, following an unpaved road through the remote forests. At the end of the road we reach the small town of McCarthy (population 42), which grew to serve the copper mine at Kennicott, located almost five miles up the valley.

Set amongst the wild landscapes of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park, McCarthy presents us with an ideal base from which to explore this stunning setting further. Less accessible than Denali, Wrangell St Elias contains the largest concentration of glaciers on the continent and nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. Some 13.2 million acres of the park system have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage area. Mountain goats and Dall sheep with long curly horns can be found on the upper slopes while wolves, black bears, coyotes, bison and caribou range through the interior of the park. Note that wildlife spottings, as always, are never guaranteed, particularly given the sheer size and scale of this national park - it's the same size as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the entirety of Switzerland combined!

The drive today will take around eight hours including stops.
Day 5 - Explore the Wrangell St Elias National Park; visit to Kennicott Mine
We have a free morning today, with the option to take a walk along the Root Glacier trail with our Tour Leader. This trail starts from nearby Kennicott and is a straightforward but strenuous walk that takes in the magnificent panoramas of the Chugach Mountains and the Kennicott and Root Glaciers. The hike begins easily with a path of gradual undulations, and the last section towards the glacier is a steep set of switchbacks with loose gravel and scree underfoot. Views over the glacier at the end are stunning. If you are feeling more active today, there is also the option to take a hike on the glacier itself with an expert guide from one of the local St Elias mountain companies.

For those who would rather do something a little more leisurely, there are shuttle buses along the 4.5 mile stretch of road between McCarthy and Kennicott, or indeed this can be walked under your own steam with a good chance of spotting black bear.

In the afternoon, we will reconvene around 3pm to explore the old mining town of Kennicott. Designated as a National Historic landmark and considered the finest remaining example of an early 20th century copper mine anywhere, the town remains a fascinating monument to a long forgotten era of America's pioneering past. We'll take a tour of the mill here for a glimpse of the area's industrial history.
Day 6 - Travel along the Denali Highway to our remote lodge
Heading north today we take the Denali Highway, stopping en route to see the remarkable fish wheels on the Copper River, an ingenious method of catching the abundant salmon that follow the river to spawn. Stopping at the Wrangell St. Elias Visitors Centre for a short visit, we then continue on to Glenallen, our gateway into the beautiful setting of the Tangle Lakes and the Maclaren River, one of the most accessible of Alaska's wild and pristine wilderness areas. This is a region of open tundra, glacial lakes and mountain ridges, blessed with an abundance natural beauty, cultural traditions and spectacular wildlife. It will be a day of driving on a (largely) unsealed road, and on arrival to our remote lodge we should have time to enjoy a short walk in the alpine tundra.
Day 7 - Continue to Denali National Park
Continuing northwest, the highway takes us over a rugged landscape, where the views are breath taking and, weather permitting, we may get a glimpse of Denali (formerly Mt McKinley), the highest mountain in North America (6188m). The Athabascan people called it 'Denali' meaning 'the high one' and this towering pyramid of rock, ice and snow is often shrouded in a blanket of mist and cloud. Denali National Park represents one of the world's last intact ecosystems, over 6 million acres of tundra, glaciers and mountains that present a unique opportunity to observe the natural behaviour of wild animals still unaffected by the often destructive influence of man. The park provides a haven for bears, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, moose, red foxes, wolverine and over 160 species of birds, and is without doubt one of the highlights of our remarkable journey.

We'll get an introduction to the park today, and depending on timings, we may be able to see a demonstration of the park's sled dogs, which are used for patrolling in the winter season and are an integral part of the cultural traditions of Denali. They remain the only sled dogs in the entire U.S. who help directly in the preservation of the park and its wildlife.
Day 8 - In Denali National Park; search for wildlife on walks
This morning we will drive to the entrance of Denali National Park and transfer to a shuttle bus for our journey into the park itself. Established as a national park in 1917, the area was designated as an international biosphere reserve in 1976 and contains everything from 1200 pound moose to 1.5 gram shrews. In order to ensure the preservation of this wilderness, vehicle access is restricted, so these shuttle buses are the only way that visitors can enter the park. They look like old American school buses - for international visitors this is quite the experience in itself! We embark on a round-trip journey through this natural treasure trove, driving along the primitive road and taking opportunities to observe and photograph any wildlife we may come across, as well as the park's impressive scenery. The journey will be around four to five hours, and the bus stops every time there is wildlife along the route, as well as for bathroom breaks on the way. It's not just an out and back bus ride - the scenery is absolutely spectacular and we'll have plenty of opportunities to appreciate the natural beauty. The bus starts and ends at the entrance to the Denali National Park, and when we get off the bus, for those who would like to walk in the park our Tour Leader will prepare us with all the trail and safety information we need to choose from the number of marked hiking trails at the park entrance.

Later in the afternoon we jump into our maxiwagon to return to the hotel.
Day 9 - Drive to Talkeetna; optional scenic flight over Denali
We drive to the town of Talkeetna, an old mining supply station and riverboat port, that since the early 1950s has seen itself become a focus for mountaineers attempting to scale the heights of Denali. Many believe that the best views of the mountain can be seen from here and this afternoon there will be time to enjoy some exhilarating optional excursions from the town. Rafting is available here, as well as other river based activities and numerous scenic overflights, which take in the majestic views of Alaska's most famous summit.
Day 10 - Visit Hatchers Pass mine, continue to Seward
Leaving Talkeetna this morning we head for the mountainous landscapes around Hatcher's Pass, where a visit to the gold mine affords us a fascinating glimpse into the pioneering heritage of this great wilderness. Roads up here are not fully tarmacked, so a trip here will depend on how much rain there has been recently in the area. Named after Robert Lee Hatcher, who established the first lode claim in Willow Creek Valley in 1906, the top of the pass is the site of the old Independence Mine, today an Historical State Park, but once the property of the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company. At the peak of its production the mine employed over 200 men and produced nearly 35,000 ounces of gold, which at today's rates would equate to over $17 million dollars' worth a year.

We then continue south, passing through Anchorage and following the coastline of Turnagain Arm. Our destination is the town of Seward, a picturesque port ringed by a stunning landscape of mountains and glaciers, lying alongside the rich waters of Resurrection Bay. Founded at the turn of the 20th century by engineers building the railroad to the interior, it benefited from its status as an ice-free port, prospering during the early years of the Nome gold rush and going on to become the gateway port for cruises into the spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park. On arrival we will make our way to our hotel, where we will spend the next three nights amidst this majestic landscape.
Day 11 - Free day; optional sea kayaking or cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park
Today has been left free for you to enjoy as you see fit, and there are a number of awe-inspiring optional excursions to choose from in Seward, including a variety of wildlife cruises, unforgettable sea kayaking experiences and dog-sledding trips by helicopter.

A cruise within the Kenai Fjords National Park is an unbeatable wildlife experience - this 580,000-acre wonderland of towering peaks, glaciers and coastline is home to a rich diversity of marine wildlife, including puffins, sea otters, stellar sea lions, orcas, humpbacks and dall porpoises. Here over 30 named glaciers plunge directly into the salt water along the coast. Different cruises are available offering half day and full day options. Sea kayaking is also possible here for those who wish to see the magnificent wildlife and glaciers close up, which is highly recommended for those seeking an active excursion filled with wildlife encounters. Alternatively, for those with some real adventure in mind, you could have the unforgettable experience of a glacier dog-sledding tour, which involves a scenic helicopter flight over Godwin Glacier, and 30 minutes of sledding in the stunning snowy landscape on the glacier.
Day 12 - Return to Anchorage via the Portage Valley
Leaving Seward today, we return north through Moose Pass, so named because in 1903 a mail carrier driving a team of dogs had considerable trouble gaining right of way from a giant moose! We retrace our steps back through the Chugach Mountains and follow the railroad tracks through the Chugach Forest. We'll end in Anchorage, where we'll have a little free time to explore. We may also have time to visit the Anchorage Museum, which offers a fantastic overview of Alaskan history, wilderness and indigenous culture. We'll go out for dinner to celebrate our final Alaskan evening.
Day 13 - Tour ends Anchorage
The trip ends today at our hotel in Anchorage.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Anchorage at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. Similar to your arrival, we don't provide transfers in Anchorage, but information on how to reach the airport from the hotel will be provided in your final documents. Of course, your Tour Leader is also on hand to advise you in country.
Departure dates
Start End Availability Price NZD
03 Aug 2024 15 Aug 2024 5 - Guaranteed $9,130