Denali's Spring Wildlife and Wildflowers
Experience the crown jewel of the National Park system, Denali National Park, from our comfortable custom Sprinter van rather than a crowded tour bus. Look for and photograph birds and iconic wildlife as you make an unhurried drive through the park. Stay in Kantishna at the end of the Denali Park road in a small exclusive lodge run by the local air taxi operator.
Enjoy the most spectacular flight on the continent as you fly around the highest mountain in North America, “Denali”, in a bush plane from the airstrip in Kantishna located less than a mile from your lodge. Enjoy the unique views of Denali and the Alaska Range from the ground, reflected in Wonder Lake. Take home countless memories and photographs under the expert guidance of Alaska resident and naturalist, Bill Mohrwinkel.
|Jun 18||Arrive in Fairbanks/overnight Rivers Edge||Rivers Edge Resort|
|Jun 19||Morning visit to UAF museum of the north then drive to Denali Park Entrance (approximately 3 hours), tour the dog kennels at Earthsong lodge and check out Denali Park Visitor Center||Earthsong Lodge, Healy||B, L, D|
|Jun 20||After breakfast depart on all-day drive (90 miles) through Denali Park with multiple stops for wildlife and scenery. Picnic lunch while in route.||Skyline Lodge, Kantishna (Denali Nat. Park)||B, L, D|
|Jun 21||After breakfast scenic flight around Denali (North America’s highest mountain). Then spend the rest of the day exploring Wonder Lake area||Skyline Lodge, Kantishna (Denali Nat. Park)||B, L,D|
|Jun 22||After early morning breakfast, depart on return drive through Denali Park (90 miles) then drive George Parks Hwy to Anchorage||Susitna Place B&B (or equivalent), Anchorage||B, L|
|Jun 23||Either join “Grizzly Bear Adventure” to Lake Clark National Park or fly home||B|
Jun 19: Drive to Denali National Park, Alaska
At 10 am, trip leader Bill Mohrwinkel will meet you at Rivers Edge Resort and drive you to the University of Alaska Museum of the North for a fascinating morning at one of Alaska’s best museums of natural and cultural history. After lunch you will make the approximately 3-hour scenic drive to Denali National Park. At the end of the drive, you will find comfortable and homey accommodations at Earthsong Lodge, located in Healy, Alaska just outside the entrance to the Park. If time and interest permits, you will have the opportunity to tour the dog kennels at Earthsong Lodge and learn about dog “mushing”. Afterwards drive to the Denali Park, entrance to spend an hour at the world class visitor center, followed by dinner in a nearby restaurant. For anyone interested, the lodge owner Jon Nierenberg presents a nightly slide show on the “seasons of Denali. Jon has led dogsled tours in the park for over 20 years and has many stories to tell!
Jun 20: Drive the 90-mile Park road to Kantishna, located just beyond Wonder Lake.
After breakfast at Earthsong Lodge, you will depart on an all-day drive along the 90-mile Denali National Park Road, which ends in the historic gold-mining town of Kantishna where your lodge for the next two nights is located. This drive has been described as the most scenic drive in North America, crossing four mountain passes and traversing millions of acres of Alaska Wilderness and prime wildlife habitat. Every other visitor to Denali experiences the park from a bus with 50 other people, but due to my long-term relationship with the lodge owner in Kantishna I hold a permit to drive my customized Mercedes Sprinter van on the park road. With this utterly unique privilege to drive the Park road in a private vehicle, come many regulations, however, we are not constrained by the rigid schedules of the park tour buses. This means we can take our time and enjoy the park at a leisurely pace, stopping to watch wildlife or take photos on our schedule, not the tour bus schedule! Additionally, our customized Mercedes vans allow for a comfortable experience, where all windows open for photography. Passengers are only allowed to exit the van and walk around at five “official” rest stops. These stops allow you to stretch your legs and have an opportunity to get out on the tundra and experience the environment first-hand.
After arriving in Kantishna, you will be treated to a fine dinner in the wilderness setting of Skyline Lodge. Depending on the weather, you’ll have the opportunity for a scenic flight around Denali’s impressive peak (cost included) after dinner. The mountain makes its own weather and is often hidden in clouds, from mid-day through the afternoon. Evenings (after dinner) and mornings tend to be the best time for the scenic flight. If weather does not allow for the flight this evening, you will have the next day (morning and evening) for making the flight. Staying two nights in Kantishna, provides excellent opportunities to photograph this majestic mountain and explore the Kantishna area of the park, including visiting Wonder Lake for iconic photos of Denali’s reflection in Wonder Lake.
Jun 21: Denali National Park, chance to explore or take the 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, mammals, and birds and this is your day to enjoy it at your leisure. After breakfast and packing a sack lunch in the lodge, you will either organize for the scenic flight or prepare to explore the local area. Take a hike on one of the great hiking trails located just outside the doors to the lodge or Bill will give you a ride 6 miles back down the Park road to Wonder Lake, where you can wander this scenically stunning area. Skyline Lodge also has bicycles for guests to use and a bicycle ride on the Denali Park Road is a perfect way to experience this unforgettable environment. The day ends with another fine meal in the Skyline dining room.
Jun 22: Denali National Park south to Anchorage
After breakfast and making a sack lunch you will depart early for what will hopefully be more stunning views of Denali and great wildlife experiences traversing back through the park. After exiting the National Park, you will travel south to Anchorage on the “Parks” Highway, 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 the hotel, you will have some time to explore downtown Anchorage and enjoy dinner on your own this evening.
Jun 23: Continue your journey in Alaska with us or fly home.
Either continue to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge with Bill or fly home.
Trip Cost, double occupancy: $2,995
Single Supplements: $400-800
– Single Supplements are limited and may be partial meaning you can get a single room at some locations but not others.
Costs are per person, double occupancy, no hidden costs.
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you are willing to have a roommate, we will find a roommate for you, and if we cannot, we will not charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed throughout the tour.
Payment, Reservation & Cancellations:
Payments will be due based on the schedule below. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
- Deposit, due now to reserve your space: $500
- Second payment, March 1, 2021: $1,500
- Final payment, May 1, 2021: Remaining Balance
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $500 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
- All activities, leaders, transport, park entry, taxes and user fees, landing fees and permits unless described as optional.
- Accommodations for the nights of June 19 through June 22.
- Meals from dinner on June 19 through breakfast on June 23, excluding dinner in Anchorage on the evening of June 22.
- Scenic flight in Denali National Park (weather permitting; no portion of the tour cost is refunded if the flight must be cancelled).
- Gratuities to lodge and hotel staff throughout the trip.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- Airfare from your home to Alaska, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
- Dinners on June 22 (in Anchorage).
- Airport transfers in Anchorage.
- Gratuities for the scenic flight pilots. We recommend $10–$15 per participant per flight.
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.