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Alaska; a wilderness exploration
The wild frontier; adventure, excitement, majestic mountain ranges, diverse and abundant wildlife and implausible wilderness. The beauty of this state is its wide open landscapes, the alpine terrains high above treeline, snow-capped mountains and endless glacial valleys. Without question it is that simple wilderness, so extraordinarily rare in our modern world, which lures the bulk of Alaska’s visitors; this is what lured me here and holds me here today.
A backcountry excursion is the best way to see Alaska, to experience it’s unique wilderness, the expansive treeless tundra, the glorious mountains and ancient glaciers. Backpacking in this wilderness is a singularly Alaskan experience: take a bush plane flight deep into the remote backcountry, and spend a week hiking, watching for wildlife, discovering glaciers and exploring.
The largest national park in the nation. Six times the size of Yellowstone National Park, larger than 9 US states, this place is infinite wilderness. 4 major mountain ranges converge here, a mad tumbling of peaks and crags that overwhelm the senses. Glaciers run miles upon mile, rivers and lakes, tundra and boreal forest.
Wrangell – St. Elias National Park is part of a UNESCO World heritage site and International Biosphere Reserve. Adjacent to Kluane National Park, Tatsenshini-Alsek and Glacier Bay National Parks, this protected region totals 24 million acres of ecological wonder. Some of our favorite hikes in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park are the Goat Trail, Bremner – Tebay, Sanford. Photographers might enjoy the Skolai Pass Photo Tour.
The 2nd largest park in the nation and dissected by the extraordinary Brooks Range, the northernmost reaches of the Rocky Mountains. Famed American explorer and wilderness advocate Bob Marshall called these peaks ‘the Gates of the Arctic‘, and the apt name has stuck well. Marshall’s impassioned advocacy drove home, and this region remains one of the world’s premier wilderness areas in the world.
North of the Arctic Circle, the short summer here is offset by endless days. The sun never sets. Gates is where I did my first ever backcountry Alaska trip, and every return here is a little like going home. Have a look at the Arrigetch Peaks Trip; an out of this world adventure to of one of Alaska’s real crown jewels.
Home to the greatest bear viewing in the world. Scientists estimate Katmai’s brown bear population to be around 2000 bears. World famous Brooks Falls is here, Hallo Bay, Geographic Harbor, the Valley of 10 000 Smokes and the Alaska Range. Biologically critical habitat for a rich biological diversity, nearly 30 species of land animals, 6 of sea mammals, 150 species of birds, and 28 of fish, as well as uncounted intertidal and coastal species all call this place home.
My specialty for Katmai and this region of Alaska is the grizzly bear, or brown bear, photo tours. I’m proud to run possibly the most singularly unique brown bear photo tours offered in Alaska. I’ve been shooting Katmai’s bears every year for nearly 15 years now, and there are very few photo tour leaders out there with my experience and understanding at doing so.
ANWR preserves a unique wilderness landscape; infinite caribou herds, polar bears, grizzly bears, muskox, wolves, dall sheep, wolverines and migratory birds in the tens of thousands live here. Amazingly diverse, within the refuge’s boundaries are 5 different ecological regions, coastal marine, coastal plain tundra, alpine tundra, transitional forest/tundra and boreal forest habitats.
There are no roads in the Refuge. 19 million acres of protected wilderness ecozones. First granted federal protections in 1960, the Refuge has been expanded over the years as advocates have shown US Congress how vital the totality of this region is; the largest intact single landscape in the country.
The Canning River trip is exceptional. We travel almost 150 miles, from the Contintental Divide to the Arctic Coast, and explore the tundra, the mountains and the stunning coastal plain along the way.