The most comprehensive wildlife adventure in Southeastern Alaska—perfect for families!
Southeast Alaska presents one of the most exciting nature and wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. Two of its largest protected habitats are Glacier Bay National Park, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for marine wildlife and its stunning tidewater glaciers; and the Tongass National Forest, home to the largest population of bears in Southeast and the largest forest in the entire United States at 17 million acres! And while these places sound impressive (and they really are), it takes being there to understand the colossal proportions of the landscape. We have been pioneering adventure travel in “Southeast” since 1972, and our high ethics have set the standard for other companies.
We have crafted this itinerary—the best and most comprehensive of its kind—to include Southeast’s most awe-inspiring sites. With 7 days for easy-modearte hiking and easy wildlife viewing and boating excursions, you’ll be able to take it all in at a relaxed pace—the perfect family getaway! Using charter planes and small boats to transport us around this vast expanse with ease and speed, they also helps connect our minds with our maps. You’ll enjoy comfortable lodgings while getting lots of action during the day watching whales and other marine wildlife, walking through carpets of wildflowers above Juneau, and exploring the fjords of Glacier Bay by catamaran. Our senior guides in Alaska are true, seasoned professionals who know these remote areas like the back of their hands, and they will help you make sense of the incredible diversity you are experiencing.
We’ll start the trip off hiking the deep forest of the Tongass, a powerful and beautiful part of the northwest temperate rainforest. The forest offers a variety of terrain to explore, from gentle trails to ambitious hikes up glaciers. We’ll stay in the rustic bush town of Gustavus, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. Once in Glacier Bay, we’ll enjoy a thrilling day-long catamaran ride with a park ranger who will point out wildlife and explain the geological phenomenon of the bay. Not to be missed is our boat trip along the glassy waters of Point Adolphus on Chicagof Island, where humpback whales stay throughout the summer to feed on enormous schools of herring. The thrill of visiting with nothing but these 50-ton behemoths would be perfectly ample entertainment for anyone, but Point Adolphus is also host to porpoises, sea lions, seals, and a variety of sea birds that will have you reaching for your camera every few minutes. We’ll ride a tram in Juneau and walk along the border of the tree line and the alpine and see meadows full of wildflowers, high above the fjords! A bush plane takes us to Wrangell Island for the grand finale of our trip—the rare spectacle of black and brown bears fishing for salmon together at Anan Bear Observatory, Southeast Alaska’s best bear viewing!
With the best bear viewing in Southeast Alaska, the best tidewater glaciers, and the best whale-watching on the planet, you cannot miss out on this comprehensive adventure to some of the most outstanding wildlife habitats in the world.
Easy-moderate hiking and easy wildlife viewing
- Explore Southeast’s Alaska’s largest protected wildlife habitats, Glacier Bay National Park and the Tongass National Forest, with the adventure pioneers in "Southeast" since 1972!
- Watch for humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, sea otters, seals, and a variety of sea birds at Point Adolphus and have your camera poised and ready for bald eagles, bears, and moose in the Tongass!
- Visit the remote Anan Bear Observatory and witness the rare spectacle of brown and black bears coming together at the river to fish for salmon
- Ride a catamaran, a tram, and bush planes through pristine wilderness
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Juneau End Location: JuneauDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Juneau
Arrive in Juneau, where we'll be staying in a hotel downtown. Explore this historic Alaskan city on your own before a pre-trip meeting with your guide and dinner this evening.
Day 2 : Juneau – Tongass National Forest – Glacier Bay
Juneau boasts one of the most extensive network of hiking trails in all of Alaska. Today we hike the trails of our country's largest national forest, the Tongass. We will experience the power and the beauty of the northwest temperate rain forest. After a day of exploring the Tongass, we will transfer on small charter planes to the bush town of Gustavus, Alaska.
Day 3 : Glacier Bay
Full day cruise into the farthest reaches of Glacier Bay National Park by high-speed catamaran boat. An accompanying park naturalist will explain the geology, wildlife, and other natural wonders of the area.
Day 4 : Point Adolphus
Today, we'll go to see the humpback whales at Point Adolphus by boat. Point Adolphus is the best place in all the North Pacific to have a chance to observe the endangered humpback whale. Every summer these giant creatures swim from Hawaii all the way across the ocean to feed on the rich marine resouces at this specific spot. The protected north shore of Chichagof Island is a pardise for marine mammals and bald eagles. Special conditions in the ocean currents make this one of Alaska's hottest wildlife zones. Traveling by boat this day gives us the flexibilty to find where the wildlife is congregating and to observe them from the deck of a vessel.
Day 5 : Wrangell
Aside from the rich Native American heritage, Wrangell is also close to Anan Bear Observatory. This is the primary reason we visit this out-of-the-way small Alaskan town. Anan Bear Observatory is one of the best places anywhere to watch bears. A very large run of Humback salmon draws bears from many miles away to feed at this spot. It is very unusual to take in both Brown Bears (a.k.a. Grizzlies) and Black Bears in the same sweep of the eye. This is one of a few place this is possible.
Day 6 : Alpine in the Tongass National Forest
Fly to Juneau and hike into the alpine meadows above tree line. Life Zones are compressed in Alaska. There are no more trees above 2500'. From the charming downtown Juneau we hop aboard a tram that is operated by a Native American corporation and ride into the mountains. We start our walk at the border of the trees and the alpine and soon we are in fields of wildflowers, above the fjords, and close to the tops of the mountains. You may even get to play in some snow. Aside from being the best place to look for different species of wildflowers this habitat is also home to many bird species and the elusive Hoary Marmot. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner and spend one last night in Alaska's Capital city.
Day 7 : Depart from Juneau
Today you are free to depart from Juneau at any time.
DATES: Best time to go: July - August Departures: Jul 10 - 16, 2015 Jul 17 - 23, 2015 Jul 24 - 30, 2015 Jul 31, 2015 - Aug 6, 2015 Aug 7 - 13, 2015
Baranof HotelJuneau, Alaska
The historic Westmark Baranof Hotel stands out amongst all Juneau hotels. The Westmark Baranof is centrally located in downtown Juneau within walking distance of the waterfront, cruise ship docks, shopping, state capitol and government offices. While you may be far from home, never miss a beat with our complimentary wireless internet access offered throughout the hotel.
Guests of the Westmark Baranof are welcomed by elegant, art-deco public areas featuring the original artwork of acclaimed Alaska artists Eustace Ziegler and Sydney Laurence. Relax in our elegant lobby area, a perfect place to meet guests or catch up on reading.
Glacier Bay LodgeGlacier Bay National Park
Nestled under the spruce trees that line Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay Lodge offers the only hotel accommodations within Glacier Bay National Park. The Lodge offers magnificent sunset views of the Fairweather Mountain range. Here you'll enjoy cozy hotel room accommodations among the Sitka Spruce trees and relax in the warmth of the lobby's massive stone fireplace. All rooms have en suite bathrooms.
Stickine InnWrangell, AK
The Stikine Inn is now a 100% non-smoking facility. Many of the rooms are newly remodeled, and we have some of the most comfortable mattresses in the state.
All the rooms have expanded cable and HBO, in-room coffee makers, and clean, well-lit bathrooms.
They offer the best views of any lodging on Wrangell Island. The mountainside rooms have a beautiful view of Mt Dewey and the historic United States Post Office building. The oceanside rooms offer breathtaking views of ocean, mountains, and sea life.
The views from the rooms are a panorama of unspoiled beauty, local culture, and natural landscapes. Between the mountains, the ocean, and the totems on the Post Office lawn, you can get a fair cross-section of local life from your windows.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Wade Panzich, Alaska Discovery Kayak and River Guide: Wade has lived in Alaska for 7 years, 4 of these working for Alaska Discovery. During the fall, Wade travels the globe searching for the perfect wave. Winters are spent teaching snowboarding in Alaska. Spring and summer finds Wade kayaking and rafting beautiful southeast AK. He has also spent time on the water in the western U.S., Central and South America. All seasons he is an avid backpacker and an aspiring mountain man. Wade’s got some good stories to tell, from hitchhiking across the country to tropical subsistence living, a trip with him will never be dull.
Maureen D'Armand, Alaska Discovery Kayak & River Guide: It might be her childhood in Austria combined with her school years in Alaska that give Maureen her blend of sophistication, charm, and tremendous outdoor skills. She has traveled from pole to pole- from the Arctic to Antarctica. She is building a house in Haines, Alaska, but still lives in Juneau when she is not exploring the rest of the world. As for guiding, Maureen says, "I do not intend to stop anytime soon. My passion to explore is ever-growing."
Shelli Ogilvy, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Shelli was born and raised in Alaska. She grew up in Gustavus with Glacier Bay as her backyard. She has been guiding for Alaska Discovery as a wilderness leader since 1997. She has a deep love for this place and ecosystem, finding peace and joy through sharing the experience of the wilderness. When not guiding, Shelli tries to find time to paint and work on her cabin. She currently spends her winters in New Mexico skiing and eating green chilies.
Brock Tabor, Alaska Discovery River & Kayak Guide: For ten years Brock has been committed to a professional career as an outdoor educator and wilderness guide. His experience range from teaching skiing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and river rescue to photographing the plazas of Ecuador. Brock has a strong background in natural history which he enjoys sharing. Of guiding for Alaska Discovery, Brock writes, "I enjoy the opportunity to interact with people in an unusual setting. The rewards people gain through these trips are contagious!"
Tom Schwartz started guiding canoe, skiing and sea kayak trips in Southeast Alaska in 1997 with a non-profit organization for youth in Juneau. He joined the Alaska Discovery team in 2003 guiding trips to Berner's Bay, Pack Creek and Glacier Bay. His experience as a fine dining chef has inspired him to create excellent food in amazing places. Keep an eye out for a wilderness cookbook!
Keith Thompson, Alaska Discovery Kayak Guide: Originally from Pennsylvania, Keith left a job in medical research to pursue his love for travel and the outdoors. He's been involved in a rock and ice climbing business, worked as a bike guide, and traveled extensively throughout North and Central America, and Southeast Asia. In 1999, his travels led him to Alaska where he fell in love with his surroundings. Keith writes, "I found the pristine Alaskan wilderness an inspiration and guiding a way of sharing and learning about this special place." (Bonus: Keith is also a massage therapist.)
Jeff Sloss, Alaska Discovery Kayak, Canoe, & River Guide: Jeff has been a lead guide for Alaska Discovery for over 20 years. He has helped set the high standards of quality and commitment that makes us a great company. Whenever we think of exploring a new area we turn to Jeff to make it happen. In the winter, Jeff teaches skiing and snowboarding in Juneau, works on film projects, and helps raise his two daughters. Jeff is an active conservationist and has lobbied Congress to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jeff carries a deep love for Alaska onto all of his trips. Jeff writes, "Among the high points of this career are experiencing some of the world's finest places, and meeting new people as well as enjoying the company of returning guests that share an appreciation of this Great Land."
Born and raised in coastal Alaska, Solan works as a kayak guide, a kayak ranger, a boat builder, and a marine mammal emergency responder. He received a degree in Philosophy which led him directly to a career working outdoors in the cold regions of the earth. As a kayak guide he divides his time between Antarctica and Alaska. A highlight of his career, Solan was the co-leader of one of the first commercially guided overnight sea kayak expeditions in Antarctica. In his spare time Solan is a collector of bones, books, and vinyl records. He co-directs a small film production company and is a tireless student of the banjo.