Summary : Visit four amazing national parks—Denali, Wrangell-St. Elias (America’s largest), Kenai Fjords, and Katmai. Search for Alaska’s iconic wildlife, including grizzly bears, caribou, Dall's sheep, moose, sea otters, wolves, Steller sea lions, and bald eagles. Take a ride on the Alaska Railroad, drive the full length of the spectacular Denali Highway, fly by small plane over the Wrangell Mountains and take a cruise to view some of Alaska’s iconic coastal scenery. Photograph coastal brown bears as they forage along tidal flats in Katmai National Park. Enjoy a variety of hiking options, both on and off trail, and strap on some crampons for an unforgettable walk on a glacier.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking
Arrive in Anchorage and transfer to the Hotel Captain Cook, with the remainder of the day free to explore on your own. Gather this evening at the hotel for a briefing, dinner, and overnight.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your short flight to Homer. Visit the Pratt Museum as well as the Ocean Visitor Center. Then embark on a sightseeing cruise through Kachemak Bay. In addition to magnificent volcanoes and glaciers, you'll see a bustling seabird colony and search for the sea otters that frequent the area. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and check in to the Land's End Resort for overnight.
Board bush planes this morning for a supremely scenic flight to the east coast of Katmai National Park. Join guides for a full day of exploration, with a focus on viewing coastal brown bears in their natural habitat. The bears frequently forage along tidal flats, where foxes, bald eagles, and other wildlife can also be found. Enjoy lunch in the field and more time viewing bears this afternoon before your return flight to Homer.
This morning take a drive along the Sterling Highway to Seward; the highway passes through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Chugach National Forest, home to Dall's sheep, mountain goats, bears, caribou, and moose, and features splendid mountain scenery. Upon arrival in Seward, go for a short hike to view Exit Glacier. Check in to the Seward Harbor 360 for dinner and overnight.
Board a local boat for an exploration of spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park. Keep watch for Steller’s sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, eagles, and even whales. Cruise past the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, home to a variety of birds, on your way to either the Holgate or Aialik Glacier. Enjoy lunch on board and return to Seward in the afternoon.
This morning drive to Anchorage along the Seward Highway. Board your flight to Cordova, nestled at the head of Orca Inlet in Prince William Sound and surrounded by beautiful glacier-carved mountains and lush forest. Spend the next two nights at Orca Adventure Lodge.
This morning drive to the Copper River Delta and Childs Glacier, one of Alaska’s most active glaciers. You have the afternoon to enjoy a picnic lunch in full view of the glacier and historic Million Dollar Bridge, once the vital link from Cordova to the McCarthy and Kennicott mines. Return to town where you may spy bald eagles perched in the trees and sea otters playing in the water.
This morning explore the area by kayak, passing waterfalls, rocky beaches, and salmon streams. Or, hike through temperate rainforest, making stops at scenic viewpoints and a massive 1,000-year-old spruce tree. After lunch embark on a wilderness flightseeing excursion along the Copper River, world renowned for its flavorful Copper River salmon. This is one of Alaska’s most impressive wilderness waterways and the flight route takes you along the Wrangell and Chugach mountain ranges en route to the historic towns of McCarthy and Kennicott. The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest national park in the United States; more than 100 glaciers and some of North America’s highest peaks are situated among the park’s 13.2 million acres. Spend the next two nights at the quaint Kennicott Glacier Lodge, which is decorated with old mining artifacts and photos from the gold rush.
Today join a mountain and glacier guide for a spectacular hike along an old wagon road. Make several stops along the way to discuss glaciology and geology, and to view 16,390-foot Mt. Blackburn. At the glacier, strap on your crampons and after some simple instruction and a bit of practice, set out for a walk on the glacier itself. With no set schedule and a pre-packed lunch, the day on the ice is at your leisure.
After breakfast, board your small bush plane for a flight over Wrangell-St. Elias to Chitina. Then, take a drive along spectacular and remote Denali Highway, once the only access road to Denali. Today the road is an often overlooked treasure taking travelers back to Alaska’s rich past, its colorful gold rush history, and the wilderness that remains throughout much of the state. The highway is no longer the primary route to Denali National Park and is therefore lightly traveled on the 133 miles between Paxson and Cantwell. Check in to the Grande Denali Lodge for dinner and overnight.
Continue along Denali National Park Road, which extends 87 miles from the park entrance to the old mining community of Kantishna. The road crosses rolling mountainsides and sheer cliffs, and meanders past summer slopes graced with birds and wildflowers. Get ready for an authentic Alaskan experience as you check in to your rustic cabin at Camp Denali, your home for three nights.
Encompassing more than six million acres, Denali National Park is the continent’s premier location to view and photograph an amazing array of wildlife in a spectacular setting. Moose, caribou—with full racks of antlers at this time of year—Dall's sheep, and grizzly bears are among the 37 mammal species that live in the park. Golden eagles, gyrfalcons, ptarmigan, and long-tailed jaegers are but a few of the 165 species of migratory and resident birds that call Denali’s rock cliffs, forests, and tundra home during the temperate months. If weather permits, you will enjoy breathtaking views of Denali, North America’s highest peak, and eight other major mountains in the Alaska Range. Embark on a series of guided hikes, at various levels of exertion, in the higher alpine valleys and the Wonder Lake area, with ample opportunities to witness wildlife.
Return to the park entrance and make a stop at the Murie Science and Learning Center, which promotes scientific research to aid park managers and provides science-based education programs and information to students, educational institutions, and the visiting public. After lunch at the Center, board luxurious domed rail cars—Gold Star Service—for the four-hour journey to Fairbanks. Situated in the heart of the Tanana Valley, the city’s hospitable frontier atmosphere recalls its long and colorful history that dates back to the late 1800s; the discovery of gold forever marked the city as the expeditionary gateway to Alaska’s Arctic. Check in to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge for dinner and overnight.
Transfer to the airport today for your independent homeward flight.
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Photos ©: Zegrahm Expeditions; Sergey Frolov; Jack Grove; Rick Hargrove; Peter Harrison