Venture into the heart of Alaska, discovering remote corners of the far north explored by few others on Earth. Delve into the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve, and experience the wilds of the historic Iditarod Trail from your base at a stunning National Geographic Unique Lodge. Explore the rugged peaks and tundra valleys of the Alaska Range, seeking out moose and grizzly bears with a seasoned naturalist and taking in views of Denali’s lofty summit. Then see these epic landscapes from unique vantage points—on a scenic train ride and, if you wish, on a helicopter flightseeing experience.
Arrive in Fairbanks and transfer to your hotel on the edge of the Chena River. Pay a visit to the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North, which features exhibitions on Alaska’s biological diversity and cultural traditions.
Travel to Denali National Park and Preserve via private vehicle. Upon arrival, board a shared shuttle to your lodge, located deep in the heart of the Denali backcountry. This scenic journey lasts six hours and provides ample opportunities for spotting wildlife such as moose and herds of caribou. Settle into your lodge in Kantishna, where guides will brief you on the variety of available wilderness excursions, customized for every activity level.
Explore the wilds of Denali, joining the lodge excursions of your choice. Set out on a hike in the Kantishna Hills alongside a naturalist, learning about the tundra’s flora and fauna and taking in spectacular mountain views. You may also wish to discover these stunning landscapes by mountain bike, pedaling along old mining roads or riding to the mirror-like waters of Wonder Lake. Other available excursions include fly-fishing, panning for gold, and wildlife viewing.
Rise early to catch the lodge shuttle back to the park entrance. From here, independently board the Denali Star for a scenic train ride through the Alaska wilderness. Settle into a first-class cabin, and take in magnificent scenery through the domed, panoramic windows of the top deck. Glide across rugged landscapes blanketed in stately spruce and magnificent purple fireweed and intersected by shimmering salmon streams. Disembark in Talkeetna and transfer to your hotel, which offers views of Denali’s lofty peak—the highest in North America.
Board a floatplane to Winterlake Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World perched on the edge of a lake along the Iditarod Trail and accessible only by air. Settle into your split pine cabin and immerse yourself in Alaska’s breathtaking backcountry. Join a guide for an afternoon dedicated to the Iditarod, an opportunity arranged exclusively for National Geographic guests. Kayak across the lake to meet up with this historic trail, and learn about the pioneers who forged its path through the wilderness. You’ll also meet some huskies from the lodge’s dog-mushing school and watch a dogsled demonstration. After lunch, hike to Red Lake for a fly-fishing lesson, learn about wild edibles and forage with your guide, or relax by the lake. Return to Winterlake for the nightly wine tasting and a dinner featuring the award-winning cuisine of Chef Kirsten Dixon.
This morning, join a yoga class if you wish. Then venture out into south-central Alaska’s trail-free backcountry with an expert guide and hike to the top of Wolverine Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with views of Denali’s summit. Explore the surrounding tundra, seeking out grizzly bears, wolves, and arctic ptarmigan birds. Return to the lodge for a frontier-fusion cooking demonstration. For an additional cost, you can also choose to board a helicopter that will whisk you away to a remote patch of wilderness for some alpine hiking, glacier trekking, white-water rafting, or fly-fishing. This evening, take a kayak or boat out onto the lake for wildlife viewing, or attend a talk by a naturalist.
Fly to Anchorage and take a private city tour, including a stop at the acclaimed Alaska Native Heritage Center. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your leisure. Consider a visit to the Anchorage Museum, or take a stroll or bike ride along the scenic Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, frequented by moose and other area wildlife.
Transfer to the Anchorage airport and catch your flight home.
Extend your trip to Tutka Bay Lodge, harbored in a secluded cove where old-growth forest meets the sparkling Kachemak Bay. Explore surrounding woodlands on foot, and kayak the pristine waters of a neighboring fjord as you seek out resident sea otters and whales. Set out for a deep-sea fishing expedition, or take to the skies on a thrilling helicopter excursion to view brown bears or walk atop a glacier. Throughout your stay, savor the award-winning sea-to-table cuisine of chef and lodge owner Kirsten Dixon.
Instead of traveling to Anchorage on Day 8, fly from Winterlake Lodge directly to the Kenai Peninsula by floatplane. Settle into your cabin at Tutka Bay Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set amid old-growth Sitka spruce at the mouth of a stunning fjord. For lunch, get your first taste of chef and lodge owner Kirsten Dixon’s award-winning sea-to-table cuisine. Then set out by kayak to explore the bay, seeking out sea otters and other marine life as you paddle to secret coves and secluded isles. Later, join a naturalist guide in foraging for wild edibles in the forests surrounding the lodge. Bring your bounty back to the Wilderness Kitchen, fashioned from an old crabbing boat. As a National Geographic guests, you’ll enjoy a private gourmet dinner, as well as the opportunity to chat with the chef preparing your meal.
This morning, choose from one of the following excursions: a deep-sea fishing trip to catch salmon and halibut; a wildlife-viewing adventure on the Katmai Coast, home to one of the largest concentrations of brown bears in the world; or a helicopter ride to the Grewingk Glacier in Kachemak Bay State Park to kayak or paddleboard among the ice floes. This evening, gather for a wine and cheese tasting featuring selections from the famous Murray’s cheese shop in Manhattan, washed down with Alaskan brews and gourmet sodas. After dinner, soak in the lodge’s wood-fired hot tub overlooking the bay, or go for a soothing sauna.
Depart Tutka Bay Lodge by water taxi, and cruise across the bay to the town of Homer. Transfer to the airport and fly to Anchorage to continue your private expedition. Enjoy a private tour of Anchorage, including a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your leisure. Consider a visit to the Anchorage Museum, or take a stroll or bike ride along the scenic Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, frequented by moose and other area wildlife.
Transfer to the Anchorage airport to catch your flight home.
This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain. In Denali National Park guests can choose easy or moderate hikes ranging from one to five miles or more. Guests can expect some lengthy driving days with multiple stops as well as transportation by float plane and train.
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character, including Winterlake Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
Other Important Details
This trip is available to children age 4 and older; please contact our reservations specialists for details.
Our accommodations are selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character. Below are several of the accommodations featured on this expedition.
Winterlake Lodge – South-Central Alaskan Wilderness, United States
At the edge of a lake along the historic Iditarod Trail, the hand-built wood cabins of Winterlake Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World offer a beautiful base for your adventures fishing, hiking, or dogsledding in Alaska’s backcountry.
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $965 per person in 2018. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon holidays, local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
This expedition is available June through early September.