Wildlife, Fjords, and Glaciers
- Kayak into dramatic fjords, home to whales and sea lions.
- Hike to the foot of the largest glacier in the United States.
- Trek into Denali's backcountry.
- Delve into Alaska's vibrant cultural heritage, meeting members of its native peoples.
Naturalist and environmental educator Jason Matthews will join this expedition.
Choose one of these projects and delve further into your area of interest:
Itinerary 12 Days
In Alaska's undeveloped wilderness, towering peaks preside over massive glaciers, wild rivers cut through thick pine forests, and the Arctic tundra seems endless. Moose, bears, and caribou roam the land, while the waters teem with whales, sea lions, and seabirds. Head to America's wild northern frontier and discover a spectacular wilderness—and the forces that threaten it—through the lens of your On Assignment project: Photography, Wildlife & Conservation, or Film & Video.
AnchorageDays 1-3. Our adventure begins in the far northern city of Anchorage. We'll get to know each other during an orientation covering Alaska history, geography, and wilderness skills, and then set out to explore Anchorage in our On Assignment teams. Go for an acclimation hike, and get acquainted with the native peoples of the north at the acclaimed Alaska Native Heritage Center. At the center, try your hand at traditional native Alaskan games, get lost in timeless legends during an afternoon of storytelling, or visit with cultural ambassadors at their authentic dwellings. Examine the threats facing Alaska's indigenous cultures and the steps being taken to preserve their endangered languages.
Denali National ParkDays 4-7. From Anchorage, travel north to Denali National Park, a remote and unspoiled wilderness cradling the icy summit of North America's highest mountain, Mount McKinley. The park encompasses six million acres of subarctic taiga and tundra, and is populated by an astounding range of wildlife. From our base at the eastern edge of the park, meet National Geographic expert Jason Matthews and set out to explore one of America's most pristine natural settings. Venture deep into the wilderness to observe and photograph herds of caribou, a moose wading in a lake, or a grizzly bear feeding on blueberries. Track a wolf pack loping along a glacial riverbed, or catch a glimpse of a flock of white Dall sheep perched high on a mountainside. Learn about dogsledding at a working mushing kennel, bike alongside the Savage River, or trek to remote ridges to get a once-in-a-lifetime view of the colossal Mount McKinley, the mountain the Athabascans call “the great one": Denali.
Seward and the Kenai PeninsulaDays 8-12. Stop over in the quirky mountain town of Talkeetna, then head south to the mountains, fjords,and glaciers of the Kenai Peninsula. Our base is Seward, a traditional fishing village surrounded by glaciers and jagged peaks. Seward is the jumping-off point for exploring Kenai Fjords National Park, one of America's newest and most dramatic national parks. At the Alaska SeaLife Center, the only cold-water marine science facility in the Western Hemisphere, learn about the region's incredibly rich marine life and the effects of climate change on the Bering Sea ecosystem. Hike into the heart of Kenai Fjords National Park, past towering blue-ice glacial crevasses, to the spectacular Harding Icefield, an immense glacial relic from the last ice age. Scan the cliffs for mountain goats, spot bright-red salmon running in the river rapids, and watch for bald eagles and bears taking advantage of the easy snack. Paddle a sea kayak through the fjords, taking in the incredible scenery and keeping your eye out for sea lions, otters, puffins, and orcas. Spend one night at a kayakers-only hostel in a remote cove of beautiful Resurrection Bay. Our adventure concludes with presentations of On Assignment projects. Fly home from Anchorage.
Note: This expedition includes several full-day hikes in Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks. To get the most out of the program, participants should be physically fit and enthusiastic about wilderness hiking.