Wrangell – St. Elias National Park
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 miles, 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, The Southern Traverse, Sanford Plateau.
Photographers might enjoy the Skolai Pass Photo Tour.
Article about Climate Change in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Gates of the Arctic National Park
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 of the Arctic 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 one of Alaska’s real crown jewels.
Katmai National Park
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.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
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 Continental Divide to the Arctic Coast, and explore the tundra, the mountains and the stunning coastal plain along the way.
The Chilkat Eagle Preserve was officially designated in 1982 with the specific goal to “protect and perpetuate the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat”. Over 48 000 acres of land, mostly river bottomland along the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers has been put aside to help preserve this incredible gathering.
A combination of mostly Cottonwood trees and mighty Sitka Spruce provide great habitat, and the backdrop of that massive St. Elias Range mountains is about impossible to beat.
Visit the Chilkat River with the Bald Eagle Photo Tour.
While no one can ever say with certainty exactly when and where the aurora borealis display might occur, Fairbanks is certainly one of the best locations in Alaska to view the northern lights. Just as critically, it’s a great central location within Alaska to get around the state to other potential shooting locations.
Aurora borealis (northern lights) can be seen an average of 243 days a year in Fairbanks.
Interior Alaska gets cold. Like, super cold. The Endicott Mountains still hold the nation’s all-time low recorded temperature at -80˚F.
Interested in seeing the aurora? Check out one of the Aurora Borealis Photo Tours.