Thank you for your interest! This journey is either underway or complete, but we do have many other tour options for you to choose from.

In a world where the treasures of wildlife and wild places dwindle, Alaska remains a wilderness jewel. More than any place in North America, its wild character and ecological integrity make a visit here a must. We explore in June to take advantage of endless daylight, active birds, breeding wildlife, and very few biting insects.

In Nome, Seward, Anchorage, and Kenai Fjords, we visit signature landscapes — from the coast to boreal forests. We explore the Arctic tundra and search for nesting shorebirds, seek out Moose and a variety of birds in thick spruce forests, circumnavigate seabird nesting islands amid the narrow fjords of Kenai.

This is spring in Alaska, a wonderful time for bird activity as they nest in the almost 24-hour daylight at Nome. Mammals have their young and snow can still linger on the landscape. It’s fresh and vibrant and one of the most wildlife-rich trips in our repertoire. Don't miss the extension to Polar Bear country to discover the special birds and mammals of the High Arctic tundra!

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Nome’s wild tundra landscape while searching close to the Arctic Circle for Asian vagrants and nesting waterbirds
  • Stand on the finish line of the Iditarod
  • Explore vibrant downtown Anchorage
  • Cruise into the Gulf of Alaska while viewing a diversity of marine mammals and nesting seabirds
  • Experience the sights and sounds of an actively calving glacier in Kenai Fjord NP
  • Opt to fly to the top of the world—spend three nights in Utqiagvik
  • Visit the northernmost point of the United States looking for marine mammals, possible Polar Bears, and brightly-plumaged breeding birds
  • Take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to photograph Alaska’s birds, mammals, wildflowers, and scenery

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Tues., Jun. 4: Anchorage

Welcome to Anchorage! Your guide is waiting for you at a delightful inn situated close to downtown and right above Cook Inlet. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride to get there. Those in by 2:00 PM can enjoy some birding with your guide; we then meet as a group for an early welcome dinner at one of Anchorage’s best restaurants. Flights arrive throughout the day and into the evening. If you are in early, enjoy the Anchorage Museum or some of the great shops and restaurants a few blocks walk from our hotel.
Accommodations at the Copper Whale Hotel, Anchorage (D)

Wed., Jun. 5: Birding from Anchorage

Anchorage has coastal, wetland, and mountain birding all within close range of our hotel. We start early in search of Moose, which are surprisingly at home around ponds and lakes of the city and airport area. With luck we find an antlered male, an impressive sight. We also look for breeding Pacific Loon, Merlin, and other northern species. We then head up to Eagle Creek Nature Center, where we walk trails through wildflowers and conifer trees, scanning adjacent hillsides for Grizzly Bear and the riparian areas for birds. We have lunch while in this area, then stroll the grounds of the Alaska Botanical Garden, a wonderful place to see Arctic and Boreal plant species in bloom and also a good spot for songbirds like Boreal Chickadee. This 110-acre garden is run by a non-profit organization, and we find it well worth a visit. Today is flexible so we can network with our local birding friends and follow the action. We return to our comfortable inn to freshen up and then enjoy dinner at a favorite local restaurant. Your guides also do a briefing on what to expect as we head almost up the Arctic Circle to Nome tomorrow!
Accommodations at the Copper Whale Inn, Anchorage (B,L,D)

Thurs., Jun. 6: Flight to Nome

We have breakfast at the inn, and depending on our flight time, stop by Westchester Lagoon or other birding spot for a peak, or head right out to the airport. We book a morning flight, and barring weather conditions to preclude us (this is the bush, and fog or poor conditions can delay flights) we should be there mid-day. This is a scenic flight as we come into view of the Nome Harbor with the mountains of the peninsula in view.

Once we get bags, we taxi into town, settle into our accommodations and head right out for some birding. Close to town there are several tundra ponds, and by this time of year resident birds like Red-throated Loon and gorgeous Long-tailed Duck should have fledgling youngsters learning the ropes of bird life. Arctic Tern nest on barren gravel areas, and the shrub-laden landscape is home to singing Lapland Longspur, Fox and American Tree Sparrows, and other species. Some years there are wagtails near the harbor—we network with colleagues to get the latest scoop on what’s around. Often we make a first run to the mouth of the Nome River to check the action or to the Penny River Bridge under which nest American Dipper.

Dining in Nome is fun, a crazy mix of international foods at local restaurants with some local favorites thrown in. After dinner we typically do our checklist tally, adding lots of new species from Nome!
Accommodations at the Aurora Hotel, Nome (B,L,D)

Fri., Jun. 7 - Sun., Jun. 9 : Three Great Days Birding in Nome!

Twenty thousand people lived in Nome at the turn of the last century, seeking their fortunes in gold found in the abundant beach sands. Today, only about 5,000 people live here at the edge of the Bering Sea. Nome is the service center for much of Western Alaska; huge barges give insight to the challenges of life on a 21st Century frontier. Birding the sea wall near the harbor can be rewarding, with sightings of large flocks of sea ducks, Glaucous and Mew Gulls, and a variety of shorebirds, now bright in breeding plumage.

Learn more about Arctic life, both natural and cultural. Three main roads lead into the wilds of the Seward Peninsula: the Council Road, the Kougarok Road, and the Teller Road, and we travel a combination of these based on current conditions, wildlife sightings, and the interests of the group. We should find Lapland Longspur perched on driftwood, Grizzly Bear or Red Fox digging up Arctic Ground Squirrels, Moose in the willows or a Reindeer roadblock, raised here for meat. Gyrfalcon, Long-tailed Jaeger, and Rough-legged Hawk nest in the region and some years can be found hunting the tundra (their numbers cycle with lemmings, their primary prey). This part of our itinerary does have a keen focus on birds since activity is so high in June in the Arctic. We look for Bluethroat and four species of loons and hike up to a view of stunning mountains as we search for Bristle-thighed Curlew atop Coffee Dome—a signature species of the region.

The Council Road leads to Cape Nome, with panoramic Bering Sea views and sightings of Arctic and maybe Aleutian Terns, as well as different eiders and scoters. The road continues on to Safety Lagoon and points beyond, where we can find Bar-tailed Godwit, Arctic Loon, and large flocks of Tundra Swan. Short-eared Owl are on patrol, looking for their next sandpiper, while small patches of wetlands might hold a Red-necked Stint or an alternate-plumaged Red Phalarope. Near Solomon, old railroad cars and engines silently rust away — the “Last Train to Nowhere.” The Council Road has the only spruce forest that can be accessed by vehicle from Nome. If snow is scarce, we drive to the end of the road in search of Bohemian Waxwing, Boreal Chickadee, and Pine Grosbeak. One advantage of going a bit later in June is that we can get through the mountain terrain to reach the end of each road—in the early weeks of June snow can preclude the way.

The Nome-Kougarok Road leads 83 miles north into the Kigluaik Mountains. It is a stunning drive, with diverse birding habitats along the way. Willow bottoms attract Arctic Warbler, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Bluethroat, and may also hide a group of Musk Ox with young! Small lichen-covered rocks provide perches for Willow and Rock Ptarmigans, Northern Wheatear, and Horned Lark, all while Peregrine Falcon hunt overhead. This is probably the most wildlife-rich and photogenic location on this part of our journey. The tundra provides nesting habitat for American and Pacific Golden Plovers, Ruddy Turnstone, Parasitic Jaeger, and for willing hikers, Bristle-thighed Curlew that nest high on the slopes adjacent to Coffee Dome. With luck, they are calling or displaying, a great reward for the tough climb to the top, and maybe even for folks who choose not to make the climb. Salmon Lake provides us a wonderful picnic spot, and a good location to hear Bluethroat singing as willows surrounding the lake are a favored nesting area.

The Nome-Teller Road leads off to the Northwest. Blackpoll Warbler use the willows of several small drainages along the way, while other habitats provide nesting areas for Northern Shrike and Long-tailed Jaeger. The side road to Cape Wooly is prime nesting habitat for three plover species: American Golden, Pacific Golden, and Black-bellied. This is one of very few locations we can get out of the vehicle and see all three species together in their nesting habitat. The sand spit at the end of the road in Teller is well-known for its rarities, including Black Guillemot, Steller’s Eider, and various sandpipers.

Our meals are fun, a time to relax, tally up our sightings, and sample the restaurants of Nome. By now they know our groups well and we look forward to each year’s return visits.
Accommodations at the Aurora Inn (B,L,D daily)

Mon., Jun. 10: Departures from Nome | Flight to Anchorage | Seward

We have one more morning to head out to Cape Nome or other close-in hotspots, then depart Nome on a flight late morning or early afternoon, after this last (and hopefully productive!) morning of birding. We arrive in Anchorage and after our guides make a run to get our vans, start our drive southwest to Seward. This is a stunning route, and since we travel it coming and going to Seward, today we drive directly with just a few stops for photography and wildlife sightings along the way.

Upon arrival in Seward, we check into accommodations—this year we’ve upgraded to rooms right near the harbor so you can readily take in the scenery and atmosphere of the harbor area. Seward is the end of the road, hemmed dramatically in between the fjord of Resurrection Bay and steep mountains all around.

Tonight, we enjoy fresh seafood or steaks at Ray’s on the waterfront of the harbor, one of our favorite restaurants in Alaska and a great place to enjoy the view. It’s fun to wander after dinner, watch the halibut harvest come in, and marvel at the many boats while looking for Northern Sea Otter, often just off the docks!
Accommodations at the Harbor 360, Seward (B,L,D)

Tues., Jun. 11: Chiswell Islands | Northwestern Fjord Cruise | Seward

Today we embark on an all-day boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park, heading towards Northwestern Glacier. This is a stunning day spent cruising among whales, glaciers, and seabird nesting islands in the Gulf of Alaska. As we leave the dock, we look for Northern Sea Otter, Marbled Murrelet, Pigeon Guillemot, Double-crested and Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagle, and Glaucous-winged Gull. We’ve booked a boat route designed for whales and birding. This is excellent timing for nesting seabirds, the colonies should be packed and in full swing.

Scenery and some wildlife here are on a massive scale, and we should find several active Humpback Whale groups that spend summers feeding in these food-rich ocean waters. We may also find pods of Orca or Dall’s Porpoise, and on bergy bits (glacial ice chunks) near Northwestern Fjord, Harbor Seal with pups.

The Chiswell Islands National Wildlife Refuge are prime seabird nesting sites and here, often close to the boat, we find Tufted and Horned Puffins. Common Murre are abundant too and easy to see and photograph. Hopefully our captain is able to find the much less common Thick-billed Murre. Black-legged Kittiwake are also common, and while cruising around the island we also hope to find a few Parakeet Auklet.

As we enter the narrow channel that leads to Northwestern Fjord, we look for Rhinoceros Auklet, and possibly Ancient Murrelet. The rare Kittlitz’ Murrelet is usually found in the water adjacent to scree slopes near freshwater inlets. The boat must navigate floating ice recently calved from Northwestern Glacier, but our captain is still able to pull quite close to the glacier. Here we float among the ice and experience the sounds of an actively calving glacier … extraordinary!

On the way back, we venture into deeper water where we look for Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, other alcids, and Fin Whale. As we reenter Resurrection Bay, we search for Red-faced Cormorant, and may even find a Black Oystercatcher foraging along the rocky coast. After we regain our land legs, we enjoy dinner together just a short walk from our hotel.
Accommodations at the Harbor 360, Seward (B,L,D)

Wed., Jun. 12: Alaska Sea Life Center | Scenic Drive | Return to Anchorage

Those that wish can sleep in a bit after yesterday’s excitement. Or, optionally do a bit of local birding before breakfast. We often check a local set of feeders where we could see all three species of chickadee, Pine Grosbeak, and Red Crossbill.

After breakfast, we visit the Alaska Sea Life Center, which has a commanding view of the bay. This outstanding marine interpretive center was funded by mitigation money from the disastrous oil spill by the Exxon Valdez. The center provides information about the resources associated with Alaska’s coastal waters and provides an opportunity to photograph and get up-close looks at rehabbed birds. Both species of puffins and kittiwakes, murres, and auklets, along with various waterfowl and shorebirds are on display and ready for their close-up viewing. And given that we visit during the Arctic nesting season, all are in alternate plumage—they are stunning!

We then pack up and depart Seward late morning. Enjoy a stop at the Bear Creek Fish Weir, where we watch Sockeye Salmon making their way upstream towards their spawning redds and keeping an eye out for the resident American Dipper. We plan lunch on the way at a local restaurant where Rufous Hummingbird often comes into baskets of colorful flowers. Near Girdwood, we also look for birds of the temperate rainforest, a habitat that extends up from Southeast Alaska to rim the more easterly-situated Prince William Sound. Birds not often found north of here include Rufous Hummingbird, Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Townsend’s Warbler.

The drive is just stunning, and we keep our eyes peeled for wildlife. We drive along the edge of Cooke Inlet, scanning the rugged slopes for signs of Dall Sheep and Moose, and the waters for Beluga Whale, though these have become rare to sight in recent years. From the boardwalk at Potter Marsh, we hope to observe salmon, as well as nesting Bald Eagle, and several waterfowl and waders.

Coming into Anchorage, we check for nesting Red-necked Grebe and other species at Westchester Lagoon. Dinner tonight is at a favorite local restaurant, specializing in fresh seafood with a varied menu. We also provide an orientation for those going on to our extension that features time above the Arctic Circle—in Utqiagvik!
Accommodations at the Millenium Hotel near the airport in Anchorage (B,L,D)

Thurs., Jun. 13: Departures OR Flight Utqiagvik (Barrow)

Our flock disperses today. For those not joining the extension, there is a convenient airport shuttle; you can depart at leisure. There is a nice outdoor patio for breakfast if weather is good, with a view of the float plane lake. The hotel shuttle will also take you downtown, so if your flight is later in the day you might want to go see the Anchorage Museum or do a bit of shopping. (B)

Utqiagvik Post-Tour Extension

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Polar Bear Country Tour of Utqiagvik/Barrow & Alaska High Arctic Tundra

Our main tour is a hard act to follow, but this ‘Top of the World’ extension is just that special. We visit the northernmost settlement in the USA, Utqiagvik, aka Barrow. The sun never drops below the horizon in June, giving us plenty of time to explore the special birds and mammals of the High Arctic Tundra, including possible Polar Bear!

Thurs., June 13: Flight Utqiagvik (Barrow)

From the airport we catch our flight. This is a day to pray to the weather gods that we get on through. Most times that is true, but we may have to be flexible as fog can preclude landing. The good news is that we have plenty of daylight this time of year, from May to July the sun never sets below the horizon this far north. We are bound for the Top of the World, the USA’s northernmost settlement, 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. We land at the Wiley Post—Will Rogers Memorial Airport. This flight is included in the cost of your extension. We have time here not to rush and work around the weather if need be. There is only one traffic light here, by the local school. Slow down, bring your parka, some insect repellent, and savor the experience! We’ve allowed ample time to cope with flight delays, and if none, to savor the Arctic summer.
Accommodations at The Top of the World Hotel, Utqiagvik (Barrow) (L,D)

Fri., June 14 & Sat., June 15 : Utqiagvik: Birding, Nature, Culture & Photography

We have two full days to search for birds and wildlife and experience true high Arctic Tundra. It is the season of ice breakup and time to search for Snowy Owl and shorebirds like stunning American Golden Plover in breeding plumage. By this time in June they are settled onto nests so we have a good chance to find and photograph them.

Birds abound! In the quiet Isatquaq Lagoon by the hotel we look for Long-tailed Duck which are calling, courting, and quite common. There are few roads in Barrow (and none connect to the “outer world”) but enough to give us access to plenty of open terrain. Driving along them we can expect to still find snow surrounding the myriad pools and gravel ponds close to the road that shorebirds use. Snow Bunting are common even in town and the calls of Lapland Longspur, bright in breeding plumage, call us out to explore the tundra. Larger ponds may have a resident Red-throated or Pacific Loon busy with nesting. Three species of jaeger—Pomarine, Long-tailed, and Parasitic—patrol overhead as we pursue high Arctic birding prizes such as the trio of eiders: Steller’s, King, and Spectacled—WOW. Tundra Swan and Greater White-fronted Goose occur among numerous Northern Pintail, and we find ample numbers of noisy Arctic Tern and Glaucous Gull. Listen for the display flight sounds of Semipalmated Sandpiper whirring overhead or the loud calls of Pectoral Sandpiper. This species is really common and displays with inflated chest sacs, giving off resounding “hoots.”

Learn new identification skills with your guides who help you sort out Common and Hoary Redpoll. Perhaps the top shorebird for many is Red Phalarope, which, along with Red-necked Phalarope, are common. Seabirds we scan may be quite distant due to ice (we scan the open leads) but could include Thick-billed Murre and Black Guillemot. We may find beautiful Sabine's Gull feeding in the leads or open tundra ponds. Each visit brings its special rarities. It’s just great to get out in the Arctic and explore.

We also want to experience Inupiat hospitality and to better understand past and current residents’ way of life in this tough, remote, yet starkly beautiful part of the world. About 4500 residents live here. The Inupiat Heritage Center houses artifacts and exhibits that give background on past and present lifestyles—this region has been settled for over four thousand years. Bowhead Whale are much a part of the culture here, and the residents still conduct subsistence whale hunts twice a year. This is out of the comfort zone for many visitors, but travel stretches your experience and understanding; it’s a part of subsistence life up here. One of the top attractions is a Whale Bone Arch photo site that frames the Arctic Ocean. Some evenings there may be dances or performances.

Bundle up! We take a local tour, if available and snow conditions allow us to drive to Nuvuk (Point Barrow), a peninsula stretching nine miles out into the Arctic Ocean (Chukchi Sea) forming the northernmost place in the USA. This is our best chance to see Polar Bear, which can still hang out here feeding on meat left on Bowhead Whale carcasses. Natives have a quota they can hunt each year and butchering is done out here on the point. Ringed Seal and possible Bearded Seal may be hauled out as well, though shy as they are hunted by locals.

Dining here is a mix of ethnic Korean, Japanese, Mexican, and Chinese foods, not unlike Nome, but our hotel restaurant, the Niggivikput, has some local dishes such as reindeer soup and sausage. Good hot food after our often-blustery days always tastes so good!
Accommodations at The Top of the World Hotel, Utqiagvik (Barrow) (B,L,D)

Sun., June 16 : Return to Anchorage | Outbound Flights

We will know flight times from Utgiagvik before you book your outbound flight, but as many of the flights back to the mainland USA are red-eye or night flights, you can continue right on from the airport. Or book an extra night at an airport hotel and continue the following day. (B)

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Kenai Fjords

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Brown Bear

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Long-tailed Duck by Greg Smith

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage


  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Eagle River by Greg Smith

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Whale breaching in Seward

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Yellow-rumped Warbler

  • Birding Alaska, Bird Watching Alaska, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Anchorage

    Red Fox by Peg Abbott

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is per person and based on occupancy: $6590 DBL / $7880 SGL, from Anchorage.

This cost includes: Accommodations for 10 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), park entrance and other activity fees for activities as described in the itinerary, the all-day boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park, round-trip flight from Anchorage to Nome, professional guide services, pre-departure materials and miscellaneous program expenses.

This cost does NOT include: Airfare to and from Anchorage, Alaska. Cost also does not include airport transfers, items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.

The cost of the extension is per person based on occupancy, $2190 DBL / $2615 SGL, and includes your round trip flight from Anchorage to Utqiagvik.

Going to Alaska is an adventure! Please note that your cost does not include alternate hotels required at the last minute if inclement weather precludes landing or departing in Nome or Barrow (extension only). These towns are in the far north and flights can be delayed due to fog or other inclement weather. It can happen that your plane is turned back to Anchorage where alternate hotel reservations would be required. As we will not be able to cancel rooms paid for in Nome or Barrow- due to such a delay, have a contingency amount of $150 in your budget in the unlikely event that we rebook. Our office will make every effort to rebook at a reasonable rate at a convenient location.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 4, 2024 at your leisure.

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart June 13, 2024 at your leisure.

Extension Departure Details: Plan to depart June 16, 2024 after 9:30 PM.

Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, we suggest booking an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Copper Whale Inn. You can book online and send us the confirmation number, with the goal being you won’t have to switch rooms. If you want to do some sight-seeing around Anchorage, there are plenty of things to do! The hotel is situated in the downtown area, which is great for dining and shopping. It’s also close to the Coastal Trail, which is a paved trail along the Cook Inlet that is great for walking, biking, and wildlife viewing. It’s not uncommon to see eagles or moose from the trail. If you want to learn more about art, history, science, and culture in Alaska, then plan a visit to the Anchorage Museum. It’s located in the downtown area and has many fascinating exhibits. Transportation around Anchorage is easy with Uber and taxis.

Items of Note

Maximum of 12, minimum of six. Please make sure your tour is fully confirmed prior to booking air.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Southeast Alaska Cruise

  • Dan Donaldson

    Dan Donaldson is an accomplished naturalist-birder based in Northeastern Ohio and has been guiding for Naturalist Journeys for nearly 20 years. Dan has developed his skills while working as a naturalist for a local park district for 25 years as well as with his full-time job as director of the local soil and water conservation district. Acustomed to varied audiences from novices to experts, Dan incorporates much more than just identification in his tours and programs. Dan has led tours for The Nature Conservancy, National Parks Conservation, and other tour companies. While now an international guide, his specialization in birding locales ranges from the Great Lakes to coastal destinations ranging from the Maritime Provinces of Canada and Maine, to the Florida Keys.

    Other trips with Dan Donaldson

  • Mason Flint

    Mason is a New Mexico native who started birding at age 11 when his family moved within walking distance of the Richardson Bay Audubon Sanctuary in Tiburon, California. Here, he became an Audubon Junior Naturalist. His love of birding and travel grew through as he moved with his family to Alaska, Ohio, and Vermont, college on the east coast, and a few years trying to eke out a living as a birder/ski bum in Montana and back in New Mexico.

    In desperate need of gainful employment, Mason settled in Seattle where he spent most of his career at Microsoft. Mason was able to feed his habit by adding on a day or two of birding to business trips across the US, Europe, and Asia and travel with his family. His wife Suzy, who loves travel but isn’t a birder, is a good sport and jokes that being married to a birder has given her the opportunity to visit sewage treatment ponds around the world.

    Mason retired a bit early in 2015 to help fledge his two sons, squeezing in travel and birding between soccer games and band performances. He was thrilled to finally combine his passions and profession when he joined Naturalist Journeys as a consultant in early 2020. Mason has led field trips in Guyana, Peru, Iceland, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Southeastern Arizona, Minnesota, and South Africa.

    Other trips with Mason Flint

Map for Classic Alaska: Birding & Wildlife: Anchorage, Nome, Seward & Kenai Fjords

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of your tour:

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
  • We encourage you to assess your fitness to be able to participate. Our guided group journeys keep a moderate pace with full field days. You will need to get in and out of vehicles multiple times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain to fully participate. Consult with your Doctor about general health needs and travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health Information” section.
  • Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please enter your flight details into your client portal.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving & departing from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Anchorage, AK (ANC)

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of your Guide. As a backup, contact our office (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

The arrival airport for this journey is the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). Please plan to arrive in Anchorage, Alaska at a time convenient for you on the tour start date. Please take a taxi or Uber to your first night hotel (see your eContact for hotel details).

Plan to explore at your own pace this first day since flights arrive throughout the day and evening. This is a great chance to stroll through the town, check out the Iditarod finish line, some of the native art, and birds around the harbor. We’ll gather for afternoon birding and the welcome dinner.  

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Anchorage, AK (ANC)

The departing airport for this journey is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). For the main tour, you may plan flights out at your leisure on the final day of the tour.

If you are going on the extension, plan to depart after 9:30 PM.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

General Health Information

To participate fully in our tours, you should be able to walk one to three miles over uneven terrain and be able to get in and out of vehicles with ease several times a day. We will share your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. Do bring any prescription medications with you and it’s best if you have a copy of the prescription in case of loss.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and List of Hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as a framework for each day and alert you to any changes in the schedule or to our hotels if these were needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome. 

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude to adjustments that may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a listing bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do want to wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time for photo stops as well as educational stops to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as the birds, mammals being perhaps the biggest draw but plants and butterflies being close seconds in popularity. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix. 

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of (weather dependent) picnics in the field and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinners we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasions we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, in some locations room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Weather & Climate

You'll find Alaska's June temperatures surprisingly pleasant in the Anchorage area, but Nome may feel more like winter. Daytime average highs range from the mid-50’s°F – to high 60’s°F in Anchorage, but Nome can hover more like 40°F+/-. Nighttime lows can dip into the 30's - 40's. Layers function very well, and the single most used items are often a fleece-vest and windproof jacket, just enough to buffer a cool wind.  If you are going on the extension, Utquagvike (Barrow) has average daytime highs of 40°F and lows of 30°F.

Annoyances & Hazards

There may be some Alaska-sized mosquitoes and other biting insect life along the way, so be prepared with a good insect repellent. If you do not want to carry it on the plane, you can purchase it upon your arrival. Also, the sun is intense, so plan on a good sunscreen and lip balm. It is daylight most hours of the day and night, so if you are a light sleeper, do bring something to cover your eyes at night – it takes some getting used to! 

Food & Drinks

We will carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!

At all locations we choose restaurants that feature local foods and have a nice atmosphere. Alcohol and wine can be purchased ahead of time if you want to have drinks in your room. Beer and wine are available at restaurants we visit. We can make a stop at a local store if you wish to buy drinks or snacks for your stay.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable during this trip. We suggest packing a medium/heavy jacket and layers. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun and insects. You do need closed toe shoes, and we highly recommend good tread walking boots. These can be light but consider them great for hikes and good support among rocky terrain.

As laundry services are not always convenient the hotels, you may want to choose clothing that is easy to wash and fast drying to hand wash items.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money.  Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. There is not a lot to buy out in the wilds of this part of Alaska, though where we do encounter them, shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.  You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.


Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available throughout most of the journey. Wi-Fi is provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask that all attendees please rotate vans, so you sit with different drivers and alternate in front and back seating.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and share photos with the group. Please note that this is our policy, if you have an exception to it, we need to know ahead of your tour. And at the end of your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. 

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representative’s permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.


Please feel free to contact our office at (520) 558-1146, toll-free (866) 900-1146, or email. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

You'll find Alaska's June temperatures surprisingly pleasant in the Anchorage area, but Nome may feel more like winter. Daytime average highs range from the mid-50’s°F – to high 60’s°F in Anchorage, but Nome can hover more like 40°F+/-. Nighttime lows can dip into the 30's - 40's. Layers function very well, and the single most used items are often a fleece-vest and windproof jacket, just enough to buffer a cool wind.  If you are going on the extension, Utquagvike (Barrow) has average daytime highs of 40°F and lows of 30°F.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation.  But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts.  Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing and Gear

  • Long pants, 2-3 pair. One of these might be rain pants or quick dry hiking pants.
  • Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 1-2 – think layering
  • T-shirts or equivalent, 4-5
  • Long underwear, 1 pair lightweight (silk or polypro is nice) or thermal depending on your need for the varied weather. Alternatively fleece tights are a good option to layer under pant.
  • Lightweight sweater or fleece shirt
  • Medium weight zip jacket, sweater or equivalent
  • Lined windbreaker
  • Down or fleece vest (windproof, if possible; this is a great clothing item for this climate).
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, etc.)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Scarf or neck gaiter, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – several warm pairs (like Smartwool), and several pairs of a lightweight, easy to wash and dry material.
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Supportive hiking boots that can keep your feet dry.
  • Comfortable shoes for evenings, travel days
  • Bandana (optional)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Eticket verification
  • Photo ID
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
  • Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry 
    collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional)
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Sunglasses with neck strap Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Travel Sewing Kit
  • Washcloth (available some places and not at others)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs – in urban and even rural areas barking dogs and traffic noise can be annoying
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medications
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, vaccination record, and any medical alerts
  • Insurance information and vaccine records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial gel, small vial


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

General Reading

The Alaska Almanac: Facts About Alaska

Interior and Northern Alaska: A Natural History

Alaska (Traveller’s Wildlife Guides)

The Great Alaska Nature Factbook: A Guide to the State's Remarkable Animals, Plants, and Natural Features. Susan Ewing

Alaska Wildlife: Through the Seasons

The Nature of Alaska: An Introduction to Familiar Plants and Animals and Natural Attractions

Field Guides

Guide to the Birds of Alaska

The Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

A Guide to Alaskan Seabirds

A Birder’s Guide to Alaska

The Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, & Alaska

Alaska Trees and Wildflowers: An Introduction to Familiar Plants (a Pocket Naturalist Guide)

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways

Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic

Roadside Geology of Alaska

Natural History

Alaska Park Science: Scientific Studies on Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks

Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats

Guardians of the Whales: The Quest to Study Whales

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rain Forest

History & Culture

Looking for Alaska

Alaska’s History: The People, Land and Events of the North Country

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The Epic Story of Early Naturalist Georg Steller and the Russian Exploration of Alaska

Denali: A Literary Anthology

The Living Edens: Denali - Alaska's Great Wilderness

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush


Travels in Alaska by John Muir

The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

The Blue Bear

Coming into the Country by John McPhee

Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings

Kayaking the Inside Passage: A Paddling Guide from Olympia, Washington to Muir Glacier, Alaska

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more





Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Alaska Birds Checklists

Birds of Anchorage

Birds of Nome

Alaska Birding Maps

Kenai Fjords Wildlife Guide

Brown Bears

Musk Oxen

Bristle-thighed Curlew

Anchorage Audubon Society

Audubon Alaska

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Kenai Fjords National Park

Chiswell Islands, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Alaska Sealife Center

Geology & Geography

Geology of Alaska

Geography of Alaska

Chiswell Islands

History & Culture

Museums & Culture in Anchorage

History & Culture of Nome

Alaska Native Peoples

Cuisine in Alaska

Utqiagvik Post-Tour Extension


“Goodby, Barrow, Alaska. Hello, Utqiagvik” – Article, Smithsonian Magazine

“10 Facts About Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska – Article, The Wilderness Society (.org)

Video on the History of Utquaigvik, Alaska

Interesting Video “Utqiagvik, Alaska – Archeology, History and Whaling in Barrow”

Helpful Travel Websites

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

ATM Locator

Electricity and Plugs

Date, Time & Holidays

Photo credits: Banners: Anchorage Scenic (NJ Stock), Moose (NJ Stock), Island in Kenai Fjords (NJ Stock), Whale Breaching in Seward (NJ Stock), Bears (NJ Stock), Nome Alaska (NJ Stock), Grizzly Bear in Denali (Greg Smith) Thumbnails: Dall Sheep (NJ Stock), Common Murre (NJ Stock), Wild Rose (Peg Abbott), Horned Puffin (NJ Stock), Black Oystercatchers (Peg Abbott), Arctic Gentian (NJ Stock), Sea Otter (NJ Stock), Bald Eagle (NJ Stock)


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