Ultimate Alaska Photo Itinerary
Our Alaska photography adventure begins in Fairbanks, Alaska's thriving "second city" that retains its frontier flavor with pioneer saloons,
Days 2 & 3: Denali National Park
Denali National Park, larger than the state of Massachusetts, is one of the world’s great wilderness preserves. Denali, which means "The Great One," is the native Athabascan name for this 20,320-foot mountain that is the highest peak in North America. Its ice-clad summit looms over the tundra and taiga below that provide habitat for grizzlies, wolves, moose
Day 4: Denali / Alaska Railroad / Talkeetna
Depart for the park entrance this morning by road, keeping an eye out for moose, caribou, grizzly bears and other resident wildlife often visible from the road. At midday, we board the Alaska Railroad for a classic train journey through Alaska’s rugged Interior. Our route through the Alaska Range climbs above tree line over Broad Pass, then descends to follow the Susitna River to the historic village of Talkeetna, where we disembark to spend the night. This rustic town, founded over a century ago as the district headquarters for the new railroad, sits at the confluence of three rivers and enjoys a striking panorama of Mt. Denali and adjacent peaks. An outdoor recreation mecca, Talkeetna today has an economy that thrives on rafting, flightseeing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing
Days 5 & 6: Talkeetna / Girdwood
Leaving Talkeetna, we continue south, eventually reaching the coast and following Turnagain Arm to Girdwood and Alyeska Resort, Alaska’s premier ski area, where a host of exciting summer activities is also available. Set in a lush glacial valley in the Chugach Range southeast of Anchorage, Alyeska offers nature and luxury in tandem. Explore the northernmost temperate rain forest in North America that surrounds our deluxe accommodations at the Hotel Alyeska, or choose an optional tram ride to the alpine summit with vistas of the ice-bound peaks and inlet far below. On Day 7 we'll photograph iceberg-choked Spencer Lake, then take a gentle float trip down the Placer River before returning to Girdwood. Dinner is not included on Day 7, to give you a chance to sample your choice of restaurants in the Alyeska/Girdwood area.
Day 7: Kenai Peninsula / Fox Island
This morning's drive showcases the magnificent scenery of the Kenai Peninsula as we drive south to the fishing town and port of Seward. Once we reach the harbor, look for floating sea otters—frequently spotted here—as we prepare to board a boat to Fox Island, a private outpost on the edge of Kenai Fjords National Park. The island's secluded location reveals a pristine side of Alaska that most visitors miss. The waters around our lodge offers excellent sea kayaking, and an easy paddling excursion late this afternoon is likely to reveal some of the area’s prolific marine life. Keep your camera handy during paddling breaks to capture possible shots of Steller sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals and black bears wandering ashore.
Day 8: Kenai Fjords National Park—Private Cruise
Iconic images of Alaska are on display today aboard a
Day 9: Seward / Anchorage
Days 10 & 11: Katmai National Park—Brooks Falls
It's hard to imagine that anything could top all we've experienced so far, but for most wildlife photographers, today is the ultimate highlight of our Alaskan adventure. Katmai National Park is home to the world’s largest population of brown bears, and it takes some effort to get here. We fly by small plane to King Salmon, then by floatplane to Brooks Falls, one of the very best places to view these coastal grizzlies in their natural habitat. We enjoy Alaska's most exclusive bear-watching accommodations, a scenic floatplane hop away at Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge, where you'll enjoy a secluded wilderness experience, a luxurious lodge atmosphere and gourmet meals. Inside the park, photograph the bears' classic wildlife spectacle at close range from the safety of platforms built over Brooks Falls. On our June and July departures, when the salmon are running upstream to spawn, we may get photos of bears vigorously fishing, attempting to catch salmon as they leap from the boiling falls into giant waiting jaws. Later in the summer, we're likely to see even more bears in the area, though not primarily in the falls catching fish.
Day 12: Katmai / Anchorage
After one more opportunity to photograph the famous bears of Katmai, we fly back to Anchorage, arriving in the afternoon. At a farewell dinner this evening, join our Expedition Leader to celebrate our Alaskan adventures.
Day 13: Anchorage / Depart
Our Alaska photo safari comes to a close this morning as we transfer to the airport for homeward flights.
Important note on bear viewing:
Bears are attracted to the Brooks River at various times during the summer, and their precise location depends on seasonal movements. More bears (and fewer tourists) tend to be on view in late August and September than in late June and July, and they are found throughout the area rather than primarily atop the falls, where they congregate earlier in the summer.
Important note on Katmai accommodations:
Depending on your departure date, you will overnight on Days 10 and 11 either at Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge or Brooks Lodge. See Dates & Prices page for more details. Alaska's Gold Creek Lodge, a fly-in wilderness lodge near King Salmon, offers deluxe accommodations and includes a scenic 20-minute floatplane ride to reach Brooks Falls. Brooks Lodge is a more rustic accommodation.
Physical Rating: Moderate
The activities on our Alaska wildlife adventure are diverse, requiring general mobility and fitness. The longest required walk is one mile one-way over a relatively flat wooden boardwalk to reach the Brooks Falls viewing platform from the main lodge in Katmai National Park, where we observe the brown bears. Trail surfaces for our various walks vary from pavement to uneven natural terrain. While all travelers must be able to walk at least two miles without assistance, some longer hikes are available for those who desire. Travelers may have the opportunity to participate in optional kayaking, on Fox Island, weather permitting. Though no prior kayaking experience is required, general fitness and mobility, including the ability to get into and out of a kayak, are essential. We stress that travelers are not required to participate in every activity, but all participants must be generally physically fit and have the ability to walk two miles unassisted.
Have questions about this Alaska photography tour? Click here to view a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the adventure.
The Great Alaskan Grizzly Encounter
Photo departures available