Sarett Nature Center's
Alaska Summer Adventure
a Natural History Tour with Wilderness Birding Adventures
July 31 through August 11, 2012
From the noisy seabird cliffs and whales of Kenai Fjords National Park, to the tundra wildflowers and large mammals of Denali National Park, we'll explore Alaska's various natural habitats on this well-rounded tour. Using the road system, ferry system, plus boat and bus tours in two national parks, this trip will take us to southcentral Alaska's coastal, rainforest, boreal forest, and alpine tundra habitats. We will begin the tour in Anchorage, traveling down the Seward Highway through the coastal rainforest to Seward for a day-long boat trip into the spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park. We'll then board a ferry for a trip across Prince William Sound to Valdez, heading to the remote town of McCarthy which is surrounded by Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Spending two nights there will give us a day to explore on foot, the forests and glaciers of this beautiful park, as well as the historic Kennicott Copper Mine and town. Back on the road, we'll backtrack to the Richardson Highway and head west on the Denali Highway in the eastern Alaska Range. Two nights in this area will give us a day to hike at treeline and explore the alpine tundra. We will then continue west to the celebrated Denali National Park and spend a day observing grizzly bears, caribou, wolf, Golden Eagles, Long-tailed Jaegers, and many other possible species. This tour is designed for people with a keen interest in the natural world and offers a wonderful sampling of the natural features the state has to offer. The trip is suitable for anyone in average physical condition. To visit this variety of habitats, we will be traveling off the beaten path a bit. The key to enjoying Alaska is to be prepared for anything and to pack your most important piece of equipment: a sense of adventure.
Tuesday, July 31 - Arrival in Anchorage - Participants should plan to arrive in Anchorage and transfer to our hotel. We will have a welcome dinner and orientation at 6:00 p.m. No other activities are planned given the demands of travel and uncertain arrival times. Overnight in Anchorage.
Wednesday, August 1 - Travel to Seward - After breakfast in Anchorage, we'll pack up the vans and head south from Anchorage to Seward. The drive is only 130 miles so we'll have a leisurely day of it, stopping to for sights such as Portage Glacier and stopping to bird along the way. During the drive, we'll travel along Turnagain Arm with the second biggest tides in the world. We'll observe the influence of wet weather from Prince William Sound coming over Portage Pass, providing conditions for lush forest habitat along Turnagain Arm. We'll proceed over Turnagain Pass where the spruce-hemlock forest meets the alpine zone, then down into the mountainous interior of the Kenai Peninsula. A stop along the way at the Portage Glacier Visitor Center will provide an excellent introduction to the glaciers of Alaska. En route, we'll visit the Exit Glacier near Seward. Arriving at Seward, we'll check into our accommodations and explore habitats around this lovely coastal town sandwiched between steep mountains and Resurrection Bay. In the coastal rainforest we'll look for such birds as Varied Thrush and Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and observe sea otters in the offshore waters. We will finish off the day with a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center, a world class sealife aquarium and laboratory. Here we will get a close-up look at some of the birds and mammals we will see on the boat trip. Lunch will be a picnic along the way and dinner will be in a Seward restaurant. Overnight in Seward
Thursday, August 2 - Boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park - We'll eat breakfast and board a tour boat at 8:00 a.m. for an all-day tour of Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. This is a spectacular trip for marine mammals, including whales, porpoises, sea lions and sea otters, and seabirds such as Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet, Pigeon Guillemot, and Horned and Tufted Puffins. We won't neglect the scenery on this trip, either. The boat will take us past waterfalls and at least one of the park's inland glaciers, where we should experience a glacier calving. Please note that this trip can be canceled or shortened, depending upon the seas that day. Lunch will be on board the boat, dinner will be at a Seward restaurant. Overnight in Seward.
Friday, August 3 - Travel to Valdez - We will pack up and load up the vans after breakfast, then drive back up the Seward Highway to Portage. From Portage, an unusual train tunnel adapted for car travel takes us through the mountain to Prince William Sound and the unique town of Whittier. We check in at 12:45 p.m. for our 2:45 p.m. ferry to Valdez. This is a six hour trip that travels past the glaciers, islands, steep mountains, and waterfalls of western Prince William Sound to the town of Valdez, southern terminus of the Alaska oil pipeline. We will keep our eyes peeled to spot whales and other marine mammals. Lunch will be at a Whittier restaraunt, dinner on the ferry. Overnight in Valdez.
Saturday, August 4- On the road to McCarthy - After breakfast in Valdez, we'll load the vans and head north on the Richardson Highway. We'll drive a total of about 180 miles today. Along the way we'll stop at the Worthington Glacier, where we will see fine examples of alpine tundra and hanging glaciers before driving through spectacular Thompson Pass with its cascading waterfalls. Heading north again, we will transition from moist, alpine habitat to the drier climate of the Copper River Basin. Further north, we will turn east and cross the huge Copper River at Chitina, and then continue east to McCarthy, a historic mining town at the edge of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Breakfast will be at our Bed & Breakfast in Valdez, picnic lunch will be along the road, and dinner will be at a restaurant McCarthy. Overnight in McCarthy.
Sunday, August 5 - McCarthy area - We will have the entire day to explore on foot the forests and glaciers of this area, as well as visit the historic Kennicott Copper Mine. Wrangell- St.Elias National Park is our nation's largest national park, and though it is twice the size of Denali, most visitors to Alaska do not see this spectacular area. We will have a great chance of seeing Spruce Grouse and Three-toed Woodpeckers. Breakfast at a restaurant in McCarthy, we will have a picnic lunch, dinner will be in McCarthy. Overnight in McCarthy.
Monday, August 6 - Travel to the Denali Highway - After packing up and checking out, we will drive back to the Richardson Highway and continue north along this road to the town of Paxson. At Paxson, we turn west onto the Denali Highway where our lodge awaits us. As we drive up the Richardson, we are continuing up the Copper River Basin and starting into the mountains. On the Denali Highway, we will be traveling at the border between the boreal forest and alpine tundra habitat, with sweeping vistas of the Wrangell Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the north. Breakfast at a McCarthy restaurant, lunch will be at a restaurant or picnic along the drive, dinner at a restaurant near our lodging, and our lodging will be at the Denali Highway Cabins.
Tuesday, August 7 - The Denali Highway area - Today we will spend a leisurely day along the Denali Highway. We will be birding and taking short hikes in the area, looking for Smith's Longspurs, Long-tailed Jaegers, and other interior birds, as well as enjoying the alpine tundra wildflowers. The Denali Highway, a gravel road, is considered by most Alaskans to be the most beautiful drive in the state. It is also an excellent area for viewing wildlife and we will have a good chance of seeing caribou and grizzly bear here. Breakfast and dinner at an area restaurant, picnic lunch. Overnight lodging will be at the Denali Highway Cabins.
Wednesday, August 8 - Travel to Denali National Park - After breakfast, we'll pack up and continue our journey west along the Denali Highway to its intersection with the Parks Highway. There we’ll turn north and head for our accommodations outside Denali National Park entrance. Our drive today isn't terribly long, but it offers such incredible scenery and birding and wildlife viewing that we'll take our time and stop, and enjoy and maybe even take a short hike along the way. Lunch will be at a restaurant along the way and dinner at or near our accommodations outside the park entrance.
Thursday, August 9 - Denali National Park - Today we will rise early to take a tour of Denali National Park. Access to the park is restricted to traveling on Park Service shuttle buses or private tour buses. We'll board a shuttle bus at between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. and spend eight hours touring the first 66 miles, or so, of the park's 90 mile road. We will stop along the way to observe birds and mammals, and are very likely to see grizzly bears, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and, with luck, a wolf. We will also take time to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the park, and identify additional alpine wildflowers along the road. We will hope to see Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet, but our chances of this are only about 30 percent, due to the persistent cloud cover over the park. Breakfast will be near our lodge, lunch will be a box lunch in the park, and dinner at an area restaurant. Overnight at the same lodge as last night.
Friday, August 10 - Return to Anchorage - Today, we will drive south along the Parks Highway to Anchorage. We will break up the day with plenty of stops to rest, enjoy scenic points, watch birds or wildlife, and have lunch at a restaurant. Arriving in Anchorage, we'll check into our hotel for the last night of the tour and have dinner at a local restaurant.
Saturday, August 11- Departure - Today members of the group are on their own to return home or embark on some post-tour Alaska adventure.
COST: $4,700 per person, based on double occupancy, plus a Sarett membership of $35/individual or $40/family. A single supplement of $935.00 is available.
DEPOSIT: A deposit of $1000.00 will reserve your space for this trip. Space is limited to 12 participants, so sign up now. Deposits must be received by March 31, 2012. Make checks payable and mail to Sarett Nature Center, 2300 Benton Center Rd., Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
PAYMENT SCHEDULE: A deposit of $1000.00 is due by March 31, 2012. Balance of $3,700.00 due on or before May 1, 2012.
CANCELLATION: If you must cancel, your deposit and any payments (minus a $100 administrative fee) will be refunded with notification to us at least 120 days prior to departure. With 90-119 days notice of cancellation, all but your deposit will be refunded. With less than 90 days notice, 50 percent of your trip price is not refundable. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance. Most policies require that you purchase travel insurance very soon after signing up for your trip.
This trip requires a minimum group size of eight people to be run at the listed price. If we must cancel a trip due to too few people, your money will be refunded or applied toward another trip, whichever you desire.
PRICE INCLUDES: *All lodging
*All ground transportation in Alaska
*All park entry fees
*Admission to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward
*Welcome dinner in Anchorage
*Five picnic lunches and August 2 lunch onboard boat
*Guide services of Aaron Lang
*Services of Sarett Nature Center
NOT INCLUDED: *Meals not specified
*Beverages and items of a personal nature
*Tips for local guide
RESPONSIBILITY: It is clearly understood that Sarett Nature Center will provide interpretive services on this trip and is in no way whatsoever responsible for the operations of airlines, local agents, and other transportation companies. The Sarett Nature Center will act only as agents for the passenger with respect to transportation, hotels, and others providing services in connection with this tour. The Sarett Nature and its agents shall not be liable for any injuries, damage, losses, accidents, expenses, delays, or irregularities that are beyond their control. We cannot accept responsibility for unexpected transport delays and changes resulting from strikes and other causes, nor liability for additional expense or loss of time incurred by tour participants resulting therefrom. On advancement of deposit to Sarett Nature Center, the depositor agrees to be bound by terms and conditions here mentioned.
INFORMATION: For more information contact Mindy Walker at Sarett Nature Center, 2300 Benton Center Rd., Benton Harbor, MI, 49022, or call (269)927-4832.
SARETT HOURS: Nature Center Building
Our trails are open dawn to dusk every day.
[Home] [New Addition] [Rentals] [Environmental Education Classes] [Homeschool]