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This trip is designed perfectly to align with our NEW! Prince William Sound Explorer Cruise for the ultimate Alaskan adventure!
In a world where the treasures of wildlife and wild places dwindle, Alaska remains a wilderness jewel. More than any place in North America, it retains its wild character and ecological integrity, making a visit here simply a “must do” experience.
On this Alaska nature tour, we visit in August: a time for ripe berries, mammals in their prime, and birds. It is also a time of frenzied feeding before fall migration, while the tundra offers its first hints of color from Dwarf Willow and other ground-hugging plants.
This Alaska wildlife tour normally explores Denali National Park but a major road construction project has closed the magnificent drive into the park. But do no fear, we have another WOW location lined up for you. This year we feature Homer in our mix, with a bear-viewing day-flight possible from here to see Alaskan Brown Bear fishing for salmon. This is a photographer’s dream and something incredibly memorable. In addition to bears we see Bald Eagle, whales, Dall Sheep, Boreal birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Around postcard-perfect ponds, massive bull Moose polish their antlers ahead of the rut and Merlin may come charging out of the trees. Cruise Kenai Fjords National Park from the docks in scenic Seward to spot seabirds: puffins, murrelets, cormorants, murres, and auklets. At Northwestern Fjord, experience tidewater glaciers calving dramatically in a quiet cove where Harbor Seal rest on floating ice, seeking safe haven from Orca. Stay in rooms at the edge of the ocean at Land’s End in Homer. Listen as Sandhill Crane migrate overhead, watch Black-legged Kittiwake and Red-faced Cormorant on Gull Rock in Kachemak Bay, and opt to watch Brown Bear up close as they fish.
This is our classic Alaska Sampler trip: birds and wildlife, plus a uniquely Alaskan cultural and historical experience. Enjoy three nights in Anchorage, three nights in Homer, and two nights in Seward on scenic Resurrection Bay.
- "An amazing trip to coastal Alaska emphasizing wildlife, especially birds and mammals, and scenery. Our first trip to Alaska, and despite considerable rain and fog in the first several days, we enjoyed it greatly. Our guides were outstanding. Birding involved easy hikes and mostly birding near the vehicles, also a day-long boat trip in the Bay of Alaska (Kenai Fjords NP). Great views of the Bering Sea (Nome) and constantly-changing Arctic Ocean (Utqiagvik). Truly the land of the midnight sun!” — Ken & Jennie Rose, 2023 Travelers
- “It was a great trip. I enjoyed the walk in Anchorage at Eagle River - flowers, views, birds, but the highlight was the three close by moose! Velvet on antlers! Exciting! The all day boat trip in Kenai Fjords N.P. in Seward was wonderful. Loved the birds - saw several "life" birds, glaciers and waterfalls - what a place!” — Marie Young, 2023 Traveler
- Explore Anchorage and its excellent museum, great birding hotspots, views of the dramatic Chugach Mountains and way too many good restaurants.
- Cruise from Seward to watch nesting seabirds on the Chiswell Islands, see an actively calving glacier, and spot plenty of puffins, auklets, Humpback Whales, and other marine mammals
- Enjoy prime time for berries, mammal watching, Dall Sheep, Moose and bear-sightings, along with a great mix of boreal birds
- Opt for a bear-viewing day-trip to see Alaskan Brown Bears fish for salmon on a short flight that lands in the wilderness from Homer
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Fri., Aug. 9: Arrive in Anchorage
As you arrive in Anchorage, Alaska, flying in over Cook Inlet, watch for a pod of Beluga Whale — that is, if you can take your eyes off the snow-covered peaks on the west side of the bay, or the verdant Chugach Mountains that lend a dramatic background to Anchorage, Alaska’s vibrant and most-populous city.
We’ve chosen a delightful small hotel right in the center of downtown Anchorage so that you can explore the city a bit at your leisure; flights arrive throughout the day and into the evening. Just a few blocks away there is a walking trail along Cook Inlet with good birding. On mudflats you may see gulls, cranes, and shorebirds feeding, and in marshy areas you may find migrating Sandhill Crane. In the evening we enjoy dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants to get acquainted with our guides traveling companions.
Accommodations at the Copper Whale, Anchorage (D)
Sat., Aug. 10 : Potter’s Marsh | Chugach State Park | Seward
This is a great day for photography, birding, and sightseeing. From the boardwalk trail at Potter’s Marsh, we hope to see spawning salmon, as well as Bald Eagle, and a number of waterfowl and waders. We follow the edge of Cooke Inlet, scanning the rugged slopes for signs of Dall Sheep and the bay waters for Beluga.
Along the way, we 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 here include Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Townsend’s Warbler.
On arrival, we settle into our accommodations across the street from Resurrection Bay in Seward.
We visit the Alaska Sea Life Center, built as part of the mitigation of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. This modern, interactive museum has live puffins, other seabirds and sea mammals (photographers, take your cameras!), and informative exhibits. Afterwards, enjoy fresh seafood or steaks at Ray’s, located on the waterfront — our favorite restaurant in Alaska, and a great place to enjoy the view.
It’s fun to wander after dinner, watch the halibut harvest come in, marvel at the many boats, and look for Sea Otter often just off the docks!
Accommodations at the Harbor 360, Seward (B,L,D)
Sun., Aug. 11 : Chiswell Islands | Northwestern Fjord Cruise | Seward
Today we embark on an all-day boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park. This marvelous day is spent cruising among glaciers and seabird nesting islands of 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.
Scenery is on a massive scale and we should find several feeding Humpback Whale that spend their summers in these rich ocean waters. We may also find pods of Orca or Dall’s Porpoise, and on glacial ice chunks near Northwestern Fjord, we’re sure to find Harbor Seal. The Chiswell Islands are prime seabird nesting areas, and here we find numerous Tufted and Horned Puffins, often quite close to the boat. Common Murre are incredibly common and our captain knows where to find the more local Thick-billed Murre on very steep-sided seamounts. Black-legged Kittiwake are abundant and vocal.
As we enter the narrow channel to Northwestern Fjord, we look for Rhinoceros Auklet, Horned Puffin, possibly Ancient Murrelet, and, by small freshwater inlet streams, the rare Kittlitz Murrelet. The boat must navigate floating ice, recently calved from Northwest Glacier; our captain pulls up quite close to this glacier, turns off the engine, and lets us float among the sights and sounds of this actively calving glacier — extraordinary! We then venture into deeper water where we look for Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, more common at this time of year. As we reenter Resurrection Bay, we hope to get a glimpse of the rare Red-faced Cormorant, and hope to find Black Oystercatcher in a rocky bay.
After a very full day, dinner is at your leisure — choose from several great options close to our hotel.
Accommodations at the Harbor 360, Seward (B,L)
Mon., Aug. 12 : Seward Birding Hotspots | Tern Lake | Soldotna | Homer
Our birders can be out early for some optional birding at a couple of hotspots and a local feeder in Seward. Mid-morning we depart, following the shoreline of Turnagain Arm while we enjoy views of snow-capped mountains. We finish the day in Homer, our home for the next three nights.
Accommodations at the Lands End Hotel, Homer (B,L,D)
Tues., Aug. 13 : Wildlife in Homer | Bear-Viewing Flight Options
As July and August are prime time for witnessing Brown Bear feeding at salmon streams, we highly recommend that you opt for a bear-viewing flight out to an active salmon stream, with a guide, to view the amazing spectacle of bears fishing in a stunning wilderness setting. Be sure to signup for this as you book the trip — we go over options and get it set up!
We also offer activities in Homer for those that do not wish to go bear-viewing, including transportation up to walk at the local nature center, and a drive east along the bay, looking for Sandhill Crane feeding in the meadows and agricultural areas. The excellent local museum showcases history, nature, and art and there are nice coffee shops and lunch places.
Another option today is fishing. This is one of the best places possible to fish for salmon and halibut and there are daily charters going out from the docks.
Dinner tonight is a special place — the Homestead at Fritz Creek, out of town with delicious food and Alaskan décor and ambiance, nice!
Accommodations at Land’s End, Homer (B,L,D)
Wed., Aug. 14 : Homer Seabirds | Gull Rock | The Saltry
We have the full day to enjoy this small and charming Alaska town on the edge of the sea. Right outside our windows we should see Fork-tailed Storm Petrel feeding daintily and with luck, a Sea Otter floating by. Today we take the Danny J ferry out to an artist’s cove — eventually dining at the cozy Saltry Restaurant. This excellent and small restaurant hosts two seatings, with time to walk between artist’s studios when not your time to dine. En route though, we get great views at seabirds on a small islet that serves as a rookery for Black-legged Kittiwake, Red-faced Cormorant, Common Murre, and more.
You may opt for a second day of bear viewing or a fishing charter if you wish. Back in Homer we meet up at a very picturesque watering hole for a local brew, then go to dinner — fresh Halibut anyone?
Accommodations at Land’s End, Homer (B,L,D)
Thurs., Aug. 15 : Return to Anchorage
We break up the five-hour drive back to Anchorage, making a day of it with stops for birding, learning highligts of local ecology, geology, and more. Behind Potter’s Marsh we wind up into the hills to check for possible Boreal Chickadee or Black-backed Woodpecker. We check some ponds for Pacific and Common Loons, and scan the berry-rich hillsides for bears, Mountain Goat, and Dall Sheep.
Our accommodations are out by the airport, near the hike and bike trail that is often frequented by Moose as well as humans. Visit Earthquake Park for a wonderful Cook Inlet View. We dine at a favorite local restaurant in Anchorage.
Accommodations at The Millennium Lakefront, Anchorage (B,L,D)
Fri., Aug. 16 : Anchorage: Nature & Culture
We visit Westchester Lagoon today. Here we may find Red-necked Grebe (often with half-grown young), Hudsonian Godwit, and Short-billed Dowitcher, as Mew Gull circle overhead. We look for Boreal Chickadee, Alder Flycatcher, Blackpoll Warbler, and other songbirds in wooded areas in the hills above the tidal mudflats. We want to network with local friends and guides for tips on recent sightings. We may go to the local Arctic botanic garden, or head up into the hills or north to Eagle Creek, based on finding species we’d still like to see.
In the afternoon we focus on culture, seeing the city and the excellent local Anchorage Museum with cultural, historical, and scientific exhibits. Enjoy some free time to shop, explore downtown, and then a grand finale at Simon and Seaforts – just an amazing restaurant with a view. If you prefer to walk this afternoon, the coastal trail can be accessed right outside your door and extends for many miles.
Accommodations at the Lakefront Millennium Hotel, Anchorage (B,L,D)
Sat., Aug. 17 : Departures
We say goodbye today; make flights out at your convenience. The airport return is a complimentary shuttle from the hotel. (B)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the tour is $5490 DBL / $6790 SGL per person, from Anchorage, Alaska and includes accommodations for 8 nights, most meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), park entrance and other activity fees for activities for nine days, as described in the itinerary, the all-day boat tour in Kenai Fjords National Park, professional guide services, pre-departure materials and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost does not include round-trip airfare to and from Anchorage, Alaska or your airport transfers. It does not include items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar; or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services. Optional bear viewing ($850 pp) should be booked with registration. You should be fit enough to walk at least two miles over uneven terrain. Rubber boots or hip waders are supplied. Times are based on bears, weather and tides, but the trips run 5-7 hours, typically a one hour to one and a half hour scenic flight each way and 3 hours on the beach/streams with bears. This is an outing with professional guides that we book for you.
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 August 9, 2024 no later than 5:00 PM if you want to join the group for dinner.
Departure Details: Plan flights to depart August 17, 2024 at your leisure.
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 10, minimum of six. The cost of the journey is based on 8 participants; with fewer than 8, a small-group surcharge (typically $100 – $300 per participant) may apply, or we may request that you pick up the cost of a few additional dinners in lieu of that surcharge.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
- May 2011
- June 2012
- July 2012
- May 2013
- May 2014
- June 2015
- June 2016
- August 2016 (Southeast)
- August 2016 (Sampler)
- June 2017
- August 2017 (Southeast Alaska)
- August 2017 (Alaska Sampler)
- June 2018
- August 2018
- June 2019
- August 2019 (Alaska Sampler)
- June 2021
- June 2021
- August 2021
- June 2022
- July 2022
- August 2022
- June 2023
- July 2023 (Southeast Alaska Cruise)
- August 2023
Bryan started birding at Fort Clark Springs in southwest Texas when he was 10 years old and never stopped. He got his first taste of guiding while leading trips for the Rio Brazos Audubon Society during college. After graduating from Texas A&M in 2015 with a degree in genetics, Bryan worked as an avian field biologist on several projects across Texas and New Mexico. Currently residing in Albuquerque as a professional birding tour guide, he leads field tours, workshops, and youth birding programs across the US. In his free time, Bryan enjoys butterflies, searching for herps, photography, art, cooking, and gardening.
Other trips with Bryan Calk
New Mexico Nature & CultureDecember 3 - 10, 2023
Costa Rica Birding & Nature Full! Take a look at our July Costa Rica tour!January 16 - 23, 2024, w/Pacific Coast extension
Best of BelizeFebruary 17 - 25, 2024
South Texas Birding & NatureMarch 12 - 20, 2024
Texas Hill Country: Birds + Full Solar Eclipse! FULL!April 4 - 9, 2024
Texas Hill Country Birding & Nature TourApril 26 - May 1, 2024
Oregon's Malheur NWR & Woodpecker WonderlandMay 20 - 29, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 25 - September 1, 2024
Yellowstone in The FallSeptember 21 - 28, 2024
South Texas Birding & Nature Special Departure!November 11 - 19, 2024
- New Mexico Nature & Culture
Kelly has worked with Naturalist Journeys since 2011. She assists our lead guides on trips to Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Death Valley, the Eastern Sierras, California’s Central Coast, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, Utah’s National Parks, Belize and the Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago. Kelly enjoys the outdoors, travel, nature, wildlife, and working with people. Kelly is a licensed wildlife rehabber and educator for Pacific Wildlife Care in San Luis Obispo county, and is a founding member of the organization. She is also the Owner/Broker of Central Coast Property Sales. She and her husband Art own a ranch in Cayucos on California’s Central Coast, where
they live with their large menagerie of birds and mammals, both wild and domestic. When not traveling, Art and Kelly welcome guests to find peace and quiet on their ranch in their B and B guest house.
Other trips with Kelly Vandenheuvel
Baja's Bounty: Wildlife Discovery in the Sea of CortezFebruary 10 - 17, 2024
Death Valley National Park Sampler Lens-FriendlyMarch 10 - 15, 2024
Sunshine Birding: California Coast to CactusApril 15 - 22, 2024
Yellowstone: Birds, Bears & Wildlife Traveling CyclonesJune 12 - 19, 2024
- Baja's Bounty: Wildlife Discovery in the Sea of Cortez
Essential Information +
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. We trust that you have talked with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health Information” section.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance, agent number 176098.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into and departing from Anchorage (ANC). Send a copy 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
Please plan to arrive in Anchorage, Alaska at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) at a time convenient for you on the start date for the main tour. Once we have everyone’s information on arrivals, we can help you coordinate with any others arriving on your flight for taxi transfer to the Copper Whale Inn, which is located near downtown Anchorage. Please remember, as flights come in at so many different times, we have not included this in the tour cost - plan to pay your taxi, Uber, or Lyft directly, approximately $25.00.
If you wish early nights at the Copper Whale Inn, please let us know right away; August books very quickly and we make our reservations a year in advance! If you are arriving early but not staying at the Copper Whale, we would appreciate having the contact information for your hotel in Anchorage. And please send us your cellphone number if you have not already done so; it is very handy while on tour to keep in communication (though note cell reception is not available in Denali).
This is a rest and relax day with no planned activities. For those arriving early, downtown Anchorage is a lot of fun, with a great museum, and myriad restaurants to tempt you. There is a paved walking trail along Cooke Inlet close to your hotel, and it is easy to walk around the streets of Anchorage, where you’ll find the start of the Iditarod Race, and fresh hanging flowers to bring color as summer bursts forth. An excellent tourist information center is in the Log Cabin downtown. In the evening, we enjoy dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants.
Departures from Anchorage
Please plan departures at a time convenient to you on the last day of the tour. Your hotel has a complimentary 24-hour airport shuttle. If you have a late flight, you will be able to store luggage to free you up to explore. The Lakefront has an hourly shuttle to and from downtown Anchorage.
General Health Information
We will share your health 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 its 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 summer temperatures surprisingly pleasant. Daytime average highs range from the mid-50’s°F – to high 60’s°F. Nighttime lows are refreshingly cool, dipping into the 30's - 40's. Layers function very well, and the single most used item is often a fleece-vest, just enough to buffer a cool wind.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Please pack your personal medication, I.D., binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your CARRY-ON. We understand that it is difficult to pack lightly for Alaska as you want to be prepared. But do go through that pile and cull a bit – you won’t want to have to haul lots of luggage about as we shuttle between vans and trains. Camp Denali has rubber boots IF needed (normal hiking boots normally are fine), and rain gear, daypacks, and mosquito-net hats available for your use. Also, a very tempting gear shop. Think about layering, necessity, and warmth for your combined layers to bring as little as possible but as much as you need. If you have questions while making decisions, don’t hesitate to ask. Clothes that keep you warm and dry are essential. Occasionally they get a real summer hot spell.
Dress is very informal in Alaska. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. There will be laundry facilities available on our trip, but not at each location. There is a coin-operated laundry at a nearby laundromat in Seward (hours 9 AM until 10 PM). Laundry equipment and soap is available mid-trip at Copper Whale Inn in Anchorage. This is by the honor system, paying at the desk $5 per load as you check out. The facilities at Copper Whale are available after the maid is finished, from 5-9 PM, or could be available as early as 3 PM.
You may wish to pack clothing that is easy to hand wash and fast drying for washing clothes in your room.
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.
For the Kenai Fjords all day boat trip we’ll be on a big boat but if you are sensitive to motion you may want to bring along some Bonine or other motion sickness medicine. The nice thing on the route is that we do get into a fjord where it’s calm, so the rock and roll sections are not too long!
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.
Spending Money and Gratuities
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 our 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 us 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 easiest for us to pack in the vehicles – duffle bags are a great choice
- Include your name and address on the inside of the bag and the luggage tag
- Most airlines charge for checked bags over 50 pounds
- We recommend that you double check with your airline a week or so before departure to verify luggage size and weight restrictions
- Pack medications, airline tickets, binoculars, camera, emergency contact information, and other essentials in your carry-on – you’ll want a daypack for field trips, so this can serve a dual purpose. The pair of shoes most important to the trip (your boots) are good to wear on the plane
- Dress is very informal
- The weather should be cool, with days in the low 60’s and nights in the 30’s, and rain is always possible
- Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm
- Choose clothes you can get dirty and that are comfortable and easy to wear. Layering is your best strategy for comfort
- Supportive hiking books are essential
Clothing and Gear
- Long pants, 2-3 pair. One of these might be rain pants you wear over long underwear or tights. Quick dry hiking pants work well if you plan to do hand laundry
- Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 3-4 – think layering
- T-shirts or equivalent, 1 (optional) for layering
- Long underwear, 1 pair lightweight (silk or polypro is nice) or substitute tights or pantyhose to keep you warm underneath while adding little weight
- Raincoat and pants – these double as wind break
- Medium to heavy jacket for warmth and wind protection – layer with rain gear
- Lightweight sweater or fleece shirt
- Medium weight zip jacket, sweater or equivalent
- Down or fleece vest (windproof, if possible, this is a great clothing item for this climate)
- Rain gear – a two-piece suit is preferred. It is important that this be both waterproof and breathable, you will most likely be wearing it for active activities (hiking), as well as large enough to fit over other layers for sedentary activities (boat trips) as an additional layer. This doubles as wind gear so find a set that is comfortable.
- Warm jacket (windproof) can be same as your rain gear if you layer adequately.
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes, dressier clothing if desired for time in town though everyone in AK dresses practically and most dress is casual)
- Hat with broad brim for sun on dry days
- Scarf or neck gaiter, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat for cold weather
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – several warm pairs, 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. You may want to treat your boots with snow- seal or other similar product. Another good option is an LL Bean type boot with rubber bottoms and leather uppers. Bring shoes with good support and firm grip tread. Remember North Face Lodge does have rubber boots in case we encounter heavy rain or wet conditions at that location.
- Comfortable shoes for evenings, travel days
- Bandana (optional)
Equipment and Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets (make a copy to keep in a separate location)
- Personal identification
- Small daypack or fanny pack to carry gear while hiking (essential!)
- Walking sticks (optional)
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (Make sure this is in good working order.) Be sure to bring extra batteries, just in case!
- Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
- Sunscreen/lip balm with sunscreen
- Toiletry articles
- Insect repellent, there will be mosquitoes! Some like to bring a hat with mosquito netting
- Sleeping mask or equivalent to cover your eyes if you are light sensitive
- Earplugs if you are noise sensitive
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
- Spotting scope (optional). Guides will have a scope to share, but feel free to bring your own.
- Camera and extra battery, digital chips etc., lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Water bottle (or plan to reuse our store-bought water bottle if prefer)
- Gallon-size ziplock bags for keeping things dry
- Laundry soap for hand washing, travel sewing kit
- Notebook and pen or journal (optional)
- Field guides (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 and First Aid Items
- Personal medication
- Copy of eyeglass and medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed in vans or boat
- Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
History & Culture
Travels in Alaska by John Muir
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 +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Anchorage Audubon Society
Alaska Birds Checklists
Birds of Anchorage
Alaska Birding Maps
Kenai Fjords Wildlife Guide
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Kenai Fjords National Park
Denali National Park
Alaska Sealife Center
Alaska Conservation Foundation
The Nature Conservancy in Alaska
Alaska Wildlife Alliance
Geology & Geography
Geology of Alaska
Geology of Denali National Park
Geography of Alaska
History & Culture
Museums & Culture in Anchorage
Alaska Native Communities on Harriman’s Route – PBS
Native Federation – Alaska
Dena’ina People of Anchorage/Homer
History of Homer, AK
History of Seward, AK
Seward’s Native Tribe – Qutekcak
Adolf Murie – Historic Explorer of Alaska in early 1900’s
Cuisine in Alaska
Helpful Travel Websites
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
National Passport Information Center
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Date, Time & Holidays
Photo credits: Banners: Chugach Mountains, courtesy UnSplash; Fishing Grizzlies, courtesy UnSplash; Harbor Seal by Greg Smith; Breaching Orca by Peg Abbott; Moose by Sandy Sorkin; Denali by Peg Abbott; Grizzlies by Greg Smith; Tufted Puffins by Peg Abbott; Red Fox by Bud Ferguson; Arctic Terns; Orca by Greg Smith; Willow Ptarmigan by Peg Abbott; Caribou by Peg Abbott; Dall Sheep by Greg Smith; Tundra Flower Photos by Greg Smith; Black-legged Kittiwakes by Greg Smith; Horned Puffins by Greg Smith; Red Fox by Greg Smith; Steller's Sea Lions by Peg Abbott; Grizzly Bear by Greg Smith; Train from Denali by Peg Abbott.