Alaska North to South
Slice of Alaska – Arctic Plains, Denali and Lake Clark National Parks, and cruise Prince William Sound. Moose, Grizzly Bear, Caribou, Muskoxen, Gray Wolf, Arctic Fox, and birds from King Eiders to Bald Eagles await you in this rugged frontier land. Journey from the wide-open tundra of the Arctic Coastal Plains south through the Brooks Range and across the Arctic Circle. Visit Denali National Park for wildlife and wildflowers and take an exhilarating scenic flight around the highest mountain in North America. Explore the remote corners of Prince William Sound on a five-day voyage, observing Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, whales, puffins, and loons, amidst a spectacular blend of mountain, forest, and glacial scenery.
Immerse yourself in Coastal Brown Bear habitat at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, a private reserve within Lake Clark National Park. Take home countless memories and photographs under the expert guidance of Alaska resident, naturalist, and professional photographer Hugh Rose.
|Day 1||Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska|
|Day 2||Fly from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay to meet Hugh. Photograph wildlife in the Midnight Sun.||Hotel in Prudhoe Bay||D|
|Day 3||Photograph wildlife in the Arctic Coastal Plain.||Hotel in Prudhoe Bay||B, L, D|
|Day 4 - 5||Travel the Dalton Highway to Wiseman. Explore the Brooks Range and the historic gold-mining town of Wiseman.||Arctic Getaway B&B, Wiseman||B, L, D|
|Day 6||Continue south to Fairbanks, crossing the Arctic Circle and Yukon River.||River’s Edge Resort, Fairbanks||B, L|
|Day 7||Drive to Denali National Park.||Earth Song Lodge, Healy||B, L, D|
|Day 8 - 9||Explore Denali National Park, including scenic flight around Mt. Denali (weather permitting).||Skyline Lodge, Kantishna||B, L, D|
|Day 10||Return through Denali National Park and drive south to Anchorage.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L|
|Day 11 - 14||Drive to Whittier, board the Discovery for a five-day voyage on Prince William Sound.||Discovery||B, L, D|
|Day 15||Spend the morning on Prince William Sound then disembark and return to Anchorage.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L|
|Day 16 - 18||Scenic flight from Anchorage to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, photograph Brown Bears and other wildlife in Lake Clark National Park.||Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, Lake Clark National Park||B, L, D|
|Day 19||Enjoy more wildlife action then fly back to Anchorage for farewell dinner.||Susitna Place B&B, Anchorage||B, L, D|
|Day 20||Fly home from Anchorage, Alaska.||B|
Sail Aboard the Discovery
The Discovery is meticulously fitted to combine comfort and utility with an atmosphere of charm and style. The lower deck includes sleeping accommodations for up to twelve guests in six cabins, plus crew quarters, two bathrooms with hot showers, and stowage space. Guests can readily view and photograph panoramic scenery and marine life from the ship’s complete walk-around deck and expansive windows. Unlike the cumbersome cruise ship giants, the Discovery’s size enables access to Alaska’s lesser-traveled, more intimate inside passages.
Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska
Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. Lodging in Anchorage on this night is not included but we’ll be happy to make arrangements for you at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast near downtown.
Day 2: Fly To Prudhoe Bay For Arctic Wildlife
Take the afternoon flight from Anchorage to Deadhorse Airport in Prudhoe Bay. The small town of Deadhorse (consisting of the airport, lodging, and general store) supports the oil industry here in the North Slope along the Arctic Ocean. Hugh will meet you at the airport upon arrival to begin this amazing Alaskan adventure. We’ll check in at the hotel before heading out into the field to seek mammals and birds in what appears, at first glance, an unlikely place to view wildlife. Muskoxen, Caribou, Gray Wolf, Arctic Fox, and many spectacular birds make the Arctic Coastal Plain their home during the brief summer season. The oil industry’s presence results in residual heat creating freshwater pools that would otherwise be frozen. These pools are an excellent place for us to spot opportunistic shorebirds. Stay out late to photograph in the soft light of the Midnight Sun.
Day 3: Photograph Wildlife In The Arctic Coastal Plain
We’ll spend our day searching for birds and mammals in the Arctic Coastal Plain. Pacific, Common, and Red-throated loons, all in breeding plumage, are regularly seen. King Eiders, Long-tailed Jaeger, Arctic Warbler, and about 130 other species can be found in this birding paradise. Arctic Fox and the native Red Fox are also common visitors. A short drive down the Dalton Highway (which follows the Alaska Pipeline) may afford us looks at Muskoxen, Grizzly Bear, Caribou, and Gray Wolf.
Day 4 - 5: Travel To Wiseman And Explore The Brooks Range
We’ll drive the scenic Dalton Highway across the Arctic Coastal Plain and through the Brooks Range searching for wildlife and other photographic opportunities en route to Wiseman. Animals come to the plain to partake of the brief but intense bloom of life and its brilliant carpet of tundra vegetation is an excellent backdrop for photos. Caribou, Moose, and Muskoxen are often seen browsing on willows and sedges, while predators, such as wolves, fox, Snowy Owl, and Gyrfalcon, search for a warm meal.
We’ll ascend the foothills of the Brooks Range and over the Atigun Pass at 5,000 feet, the highest mountain pass in Alaska. Pass through the Koyukuk Valley with craggy peaks of 400-million-year-old limestone. Search for Grizzly Bear, Moose, and Lynx in the dense spruce forest. At the end of our 250-mile drive, we’ll arrive at our homey lodge in Wiseman. Wiseman is a historic, gold-mining community and worth the time to explore on foot. Many artifacts can be found within a short walk of our lodge. If circumstances permit, we may also have the option of a scenic flight over the Brooks Range and peaks known as The Gates of the Arctic (dependent on weather and pilot availability, cost not included).
Day 6: Cross The Arctic Circle En Route To Fairbanks
We’ll drive south traversing boreal forest and mountain passes of windswept tundra. As we cross the Arctic Circle, we’ll stop for a photo and picnic lunch then continue looking for wildlife in the changing habitats. Further south, we cross the mighty Yukon River and continue through the White Mountains to Fairbanks.
Day 7: Travel To Denali National Park
Drive to Denali National Park and enjoy a bit of the east side of the park before heading to Earth Song Lodge. If our timing is good, we may be treated to a wonderful slide show presentation from the lodge’s owner, an excellent photographer and dogsledder.
Day 8 - 9: Denali National Park, Including Scenic Flight
Denali National Park exemplifies interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers. Most of the park remains largely wild and unspoiled. It’s an excellent place for viewing wildlife and wildflowers from June through August, with a total of 37 species of mammals documented, including Moose, Grizzly Bear, Dall Sheep, and Red Fox. Even Wolverine and Gray Wolf are occasionally found. Notable birds include Golden Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Wheatear, and Arctic Warbler. Stony Creek is one of the special areas to explore with 132 species of wildflowers, as well as wheatears, nesting shorebirds, Long-tailed Jaeger, and other birds.
With timing dependent on the weather, we’ll have the opportunity for a scenic flight around Denali’s impressive peak. The north face of the 20,320-foot summit is only 20 miles from our lodge in Kantishna. The mountain makes its own weather and is often hidden in clouds, especially in the afternoon. Staying two nights in Kantishna provides us excellent opportunities to photograph this majestic mountain and explore the Kantishna side of the park, including Wonder Lake for iconic photos of Denali’s reflection.
Day 10: Denali National Park South To Anchorage
We’ll depart early for what we hope will be more stunning views of Denali and great wildlife experiences traversing back through the park. We’ll travel south to Anchorage through fertile Matanuska Valley farmlands and make a stop at Denali State Park for a chance to photograph the south side of the Alaska Range and Denali from a distance. After checking in at Susitna Place Bed and Breakfast, you’ll have a bit of time to explore downtown Anchorage and enjoy dinner on our own this evening.
Day 11 - 14: Cruise Prince William Sound On The Discovery
We’ll travel to the small port town of Whittier on the western side of Prince William Sound to rendezvous with the Discovery and begin our five-day voyage through breathtaking glacial scenery, blue icebergs, and spectacular marine life. Meet Captain Dean Rand and his small crew and set off for a colony of Black-legged Kittiwakes nesting nearby. Lush vegetation drapes the hillsides in green as streaming waterfalls cascade down the rocky cliffs. Harbor Seals hauled out on the flotillas of icebergs and Bald Eagles perched atop trees watch as the Discovery navigates the icy, blue waters. The Captain will choose our voyage route to maximize wildlife viewing. We’ll search for marine mammals such as Sea Otters, often seen sunbathing on icebergs or carrying young on their bellies as they swim. Listen to the cracks, pops, and thunderous roars of calving glaciers while the Discovery drifts silently by these active rivers of ice.
Prince William Sound is surrounded by the northern-most temperate rainforest in the world and many land mammals are also present, though not always easy to spot. We’ll hike on shore among the wildflowers and also kayak for a water-level view of the wonders of the sound. Whale watching will be another exciting and unpredictable experience as many whales, especially Humpbacks, are found in the region.
Day 15: Prince William Sound To Anchorage
We will wake to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery with sprawling glaciers and a panoramic skyline of mountain grandeur. We’ll enjoy lunch and take in a last look at this magical place as we cruise to Whittier. After disembarking, we’ll follow the Turn Again Arm of the Cook Inlet as we return to Anchorage, keeping an eye out for the occasional family of Dall Sheep on the cliffs above.
Day 16 - 18: Brown Bears And More In Lake Clark National Park
From Anchorage, we’ll take a one-hour flight to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, situated on the coast of Cook Inlet within Lake Clark National Park. The scenic, low-level flight will end with a beach or lagoon landing for a unique experience. Silver Salmon Creek Lodge is on 40 acres of private land within the coastal region of the expansive park, offering views of the coast and towering volcanic peaks.
The opportunity to observe concentrations of Coastal Brown Bears in their natural habitat is the primary attraction of this remote wilderness area. Due to their high-protein salmon diet, Coastal Brown Bears are often significantly larger than the Interior Grizzly Bears (both are subspecies of Brown Bear, Ursus arctos). Most of our time here will be spent observing and photographing the phenomenal bear activity, sometimes even from the deck of our cabins. We’ll look for mothers with cubs as well as larger male bears as they dig for clams at low tide and forage for grass in the meadows. Patches of lupine, wild geranium, and other wildflowers will add a splash of color to your photos. As we move into the habitat of the bear, we may witness seldom-seen behaviors, such as courting, mating, and nursing. We will also keep our eye out for wolves and other wildlife that inhabit the park.
Birding around Silver Salmon Creek Lodge is excellent with an abundance of shorebirds, songbirds, and birds of prey, such as Peregrine Falcons and Northern Harriers. Small islands just off the coast host nesting pelagic birds. Horned and Tufted puffins, Parakeet Auklets, murres, eiders, and more are found here during the short Alaskan summer.
Day 19: Wildlife Viewing And Scenic Flight To Anchorage
We will have the morning for one last bear viewing opportunity and to take in the wildlife and scenery around Silver Salmon Creek before departing for the flight back to Anchorage. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner together at a local restaurant.
Day 20: Fly Home From Anchorage
After breakfast, transfer by taxi to the Anchorage airport for your flight home or you may choose to stay longer to explore Alaska on your own.
Included in the price:
- All activities, leaders, transport, park entry and user fees, landing fees and permits as described in the detailed itinerary.
- Accommodations for the nights of Day 1 to Day 19.
- Meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 20 except three dinners listed in the Not Included section.
- Round-trip flights between Anchorage and Silver Salmon Creek Lodge.
- Scenic flight in Denali National Park (weather permitting; no portion of the tour cost is refunded if the flight must be cancelled).
- Group airport transfer on Day 1 in Prudhoe Bay.
- Complimentary beverages (wine, beer, spirits, sodas, juice) aboard the Discovery.
- Gratuities to lodge and hotel staff throughout the trip except at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- Rubber boots, rain gear, and kayaks available for use aboard the Discovery.
Not included in the price:
- Airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
- Optional scenic flight in Wiseman (approximately $150-200, depending on length paid at time of flight, subject to weather conditions and availability).
- Lodging in Anchorage prior to flight to Prudhoe Bay.
- Dinners on Day 6 in Fairbanks and Day 10 and Day 15 in Anchorage.
- Airport transfers in Anchorage.
- Gratuities for the crew of the Discovery: Cheesemans’ and Discovery Voyages firmly believe that a gratuity it is not required nor expected, but rather earned. Gratuity amounts are certainly discretionary, however we suggest budgeting a total of $200-240 per participant to be distributed among the three Discovery crewmembers (including Hugh).
- Gratuities for the guide and staff at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge: Gratuity amounts are certainly discretionary and based on your satisfaction. As a guideline, it is customary to tip about $50-65 per participant for our guide and about $50 per participant to be split among the lodge staff.
- Gratuities for the scenic flight pilots. We recommend $10-12 per participant per flight (two scenic flights are possible).
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages (except on the Discovery), items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.