Alaska 2022: Denali & Kenai

Spectacular Vistas, Mammals, & Seabirds!

June 07 – 15, 2022

Tour Length: 9 days
Est. Spaces Left:

Trip to spectacular Denali National Park, then Denali Highway, the most scenic road in North America; then to Kenai Peninsula and Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. Enjoy the best of Alaska restaurants!

Tour Leaders

Dave Krueper
Kip Miller

Focus

Birds, Mammals, Marine Mammals, Photography

Price

Double Accommodation: $5,200/person
Single Supplement: + $775
Deposit: $750

Max Group Size

14 (2 leaders)

Pace

Easy to Moderate; a couple of moderately strenuous hikes of 1 – 2 hours.

Future Departures

June 07, 2023

Tour Descriptions

Our trip to stunning Denali National Park and the Denali Highway is as much about large mammals, including some of the great predators, as birds. We expect to see bird species like Trumpeter Swan, Willow Ptarmigan, Gyrfalcon, Long-tailed Jaeger, Northern Hawk Owl and Smith’s Longspur. We will also, however, most certainly see a number of Grizzly Bears as well as Caribou, Dall Sheep, Moose and, if we get lucky, a Wolf.

We will see magnificent Mount McKinley or Denali (The Great One) and spend two nights just outside the Park, taking the park shuttle 60 miles and getting off at some places if we wish to spend more time looking for birds. We’ll also spend a couple of days on the little-traveled Denali Highway, staying in comfortable cabins on a creek in the Tangle Lakes region.

Our small boat trip will take us through Kenai Fjords National Park, one of the most spectacular parks in North America. Highlights will be thousands of alcids, such as Tufted and Horned Puffin, Parakeet and Rhinocerous Auklet as well as breeching Humpback Whales, Orcas, Steller’s Sea Lions and many other sea mammals.

Many people believe the trip along Denali Highway is the most beautiful in all of Alaska. Long-tailed Jaeger, Rock Ptarmigan, Arctic Warbler and many others should be found in the area. A pair of Northern Wheatear is usually found either in the Park or along the highway. Smith’s Longspur breeds in very small numbers along the highway. On our Kenai Peninsula tour, we’ll stay in very comfortable lodging and dine at several of Alaska’s finest restaurants during prime season for salmon and halibut.

We should find a number resident species in the Anchorage area: Pacific Loon, Three-toed Woodpecker, and American Dipper. We will take an all-day trip on a small charter boat, allowing us to customize our journey through Kenai Fjords National Park and the Chiswell Islands. We should see Horned and Tufted Puffins, Red-faced and Pelagic Cormorants, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled and Kittlitz’s Murrelets, Parakeet and Rhinocerous Auklets and Black Oystercatcher. Ancient Murrelet, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwater and Northern Fulmar are possible as well. Land and marine mammals may include Black Bear, Sea Otters, Steller’s Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Dall Porpoises, and three to four species of whales, including Orcas, Humpbacked and Fin Whales.

Photographic opportunities will abound. We’ll do a hike through Pacific Coastal Rain Forest looking for Chestnut-backed and Boreal Chickadee, Townsend’s Warbler, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak and others.

“The Alaska/Denali trip was wonderful, as was Stephan. The birds were wonderful; the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful; the others on the trip were compatible (always a worry!); and we appreciated the nice places to stay and eat. The whole experience has made us think we are going to concentrate on High Lonesome trips in the future — and you have lots of offerings!”    M.T., NY, NY

Locations

Gallery

More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Trumpeter & Tundra Swans; Red-throated, Common, Pacific Loons; Kittlitz’s, Marbled, Ancient Murrelets; Red-faced & Pelagic Cormorants; Horned & Tufted Puffins; Common & Thick-billed Murres; American Golden-Plover; Whimbrel; Red-necked Phalarope; Golden Eagle; Northern Hawk-Owl; Gyrfalcon; Long-tailed Jaeger; Rufous Hummingbird; Arctic Warbler; Boreal & Chestnut-backed Chickadees; Bohemian Waxwing; Northwestern Crow; Townsend’s, Blackpoll, Wilson’s Warblers; Pine Grosbeak

Top Mammals

Brown (Grizzly Bear) & Black Bear; Wolf; Caribou; Moose; Lynx; Wolverine (rare); Dall Sheep; Porcupine; Humpback Whale; Orca; Dall Porpoise; Steller’s Sea Lion; Sea Otter

Other Attractions

Spectacular scenery. Exceptional photographic opportunities.

During your free time in Anchorage, don’t miss going to Wave Bookstores on Northern Lights or downtown on 5th Avenue. They have a great selection of Alaska fiction and non-fiction! In addition, there are some excellent restaurants downtown, including Orso, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, and Marx Brothers.

Extensions

  • Alaska 2021: Barrow. The High Arctic
  • Alaska 2021: Dutch Harbor & The Whiskered Auklet #2
  • Alaska 2021: Nome & The Seward Peninsula I
  • Alaska 2021: Pribilofs II (St. Paul Island)
  • Alaska 2021: Spring Migration in Gambell. “The Siberian Express”

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Coast Inn at Lake Hood, Anchorage, Alaska

Accommodations

Very comfortable hotels & lodges.

Included

From Anchorage: 8 nights lodging, all meals from first night dinner through final day’s lunch, pelagic boat trip, transport, guides, taxes, tips.

Excluded

Alcohol, personal calls, laundry, other personal expenses.

Habitats Covered

Boreal & taiga forest; tundra; mountain ranges; lakes & shorelines; Pacific Rainforest; islands

Expected Climate

Mild to colder on the water.

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Credit cards / cashBinocularsScope and tripod (optional)Sunglasses and sunscreenExtra eyeglasses or contact lensesWater bottleSmall umbrellaSmall day pack / fanny packSmall flashlightMosquito/insect repellant (DEET 25% or greater)Itch relief creamLip screen/balmPrescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problemsOTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)ToiletriesSmall alarm clockCleaning fluids/cloths/drying clothsField guidesNote pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)Hiking Boots/ShoesMedium-weight jacketMedium-weight long pantsMedium-weight long-sleeved shirtsWarm hat with visorRain hatWaterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)Long sleeve shirts (various weights)T-shirts or undershirts (capilene or polypropylene)Pants (fleece or wool; jeans NOT recommended)Long Underwear (capilene or polypropylene)PJs or shorts for lounging/sleepingWool socks (various weights) and liners.GORE-TEX socks/liners for water protection and warmthSturdy, waterproof boots; NEOS are lightweight waterproof overboots

Recommended Reading

  • Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th Edition Jon Dunn, et al. (2011); National Geographic Society
  • Shorebirds of North America, Europe, & Asia: A Guide to Field Identification Don Taylor; illustrated by Stephen Message (2006); Princeton University Press
  • Shorebirds of North America: The Photographic Guide Dennis Paulson (2005); Princeton University Press
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000); Knopf
  • Seabirds of the World Peter Harrison (1997); Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of Japan (1982); Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia Bharat Bhushan, et al. (1993); Wild Bird Society of Japan
  • Birds of Russia & Adjacent Territories V. E. Flint, et al. (1984); Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Birds of China John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps (2000); Oxford University Press
  • Birds of Europe Killian Mullarney, et al. (1999); Princeton University Press
  • Birds of Europe with North Africa & the Middle East Lars Jonsson (1992); Princeton University Press
  • The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe & the Western Palearctic Mark Beaman and Steve Madge (1998); Princeton University Press
  • A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain & Europe Ian Lewington, et al. (1991); Domino Books, Ltd.
  • New Generation to the Guide Birds of Britain & Europe Christopher Perrins (1987); University of Texas Press