Alaska Polar Bear & Aurora Borealis Tour with Denali Add-on
Our Alaska Polar Bear & Aurora Borealis Tour with the Denali Add-on is the only tour package in Alaska that allows you to see Grizzly and Polar bears on the same tour! You will see Grizzly Bears and other wildlife like caribou and moose as well as experience the peak of the fall colors in Denali National Park, and stay at a small lodge in the heart of the park near Wonder Lake. Then you will travel to the Arctic Coast to observe Polar Bears in the best Polar Bear viewing area in Alaska as well as experience Northern Lights in one of the best aurora borealis viewing locations in North America.
You will also experience the world famous Dalton Highway of ‘Ice Road Truckers’ fame, cross the Arctic Circle, stay in heart of the Brooks Range in a quaint Alaskan Bush village, explore one of Alaska’s most captivating landscapes, visit an Eskimo village, relax in natural hot springs, and much more.
‘The Alaska Polar Bear & Aurora Borealis Tour with the Denali Add-on is one of the best adventures I have ever taken!’
Miquel Correll, Texas
You may also consider our Alaska Polar Bear & Northern Lights Tour (10 days/9 nights) which has the identical itinerary but without a visit to Denali National Park.
- Experience Denali National Park at the peak of the fall colors
- See caribou, Dall sheep, grizzly bears and moose along the park road
- Stay in the heart of Denali National Park
- See polar bears in the best polar bear viewing area in Alaska
- Experience the Northern Lights from one of the best viewing locations in North America
- Travel along the Dalton Highway, an almost mythic road that runs for over 400 miles through Arctic wilderness, and follow the famous Ice Road Truckers
- Discover some of the most dramatic scenery in Alaska
- Cross the Arctic Circle
- Stay with local Alaskans in the Brooks Range wilderness
- Visit one of the most remote native communities in Alaska
- See Arctic Wildlife
- Dip your toes in amazing hot springs
- Visit an ice museum
- Small group of maximum six guests provides for highly personalized experience
- 13 days (12 nights) of lodging
- All meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
- All transportation during the tour incl. return flight from Deadhorse to Kaktovik
- Full day boat excursion with native guide to view polar bears
- All activities (ice museum, hot springs)
- Professional guide
- Permit fees
Day 1 – Fairbanks
Welcome to Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city. You will arrive on your scheduled flight, be picked up at the airport and transferred to our local hotel. You will share our Welcome Dinner in the evening in downtown Fairbanks. Fairbanks is called “The Golden Heart of Alaska,” a reference to the character of her people as much as to the location in Alaska’s interior, or to the discovery of gold in 1902. Its central location makes it the focal point for the tiny villages scattered throughout the surrounding wilderness, and Fairbanks is a staging point for North Slope villages such as Barrow and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Yet, unlike Anchorage, it still retains its down home “frontier” feel. It is contained within the North Star Borough, similar to a county, but roughly the size of New Jersey!
Day 2 – Fairbanks – Denali National Park (Kantishna)
Today, you are driving down to Denali National Park, the crown jewel of National Parks in Alaska. The park is one of the superlative places in the world: a land of gigantic mountains, plentiful wildlife, burly rivers and sublime wilderness. Autumn in Denali offers the chance to experience Alaska’s greatest park cloaked as comparatively few see it. During any season, the park offers some of the most striking vistas found in Alaska, but at no other time is the vast tundra more colorful than in early fall. A spectacular 90-mile drive across the park into the backcountry provides our group with a broad sampling of the epic landscapes this remarkable park has to offer. With clear weather the drive places us within easy photo access of the great mountain itself—Mt. McKinley or Denali – North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet. In autumn the mountain tends to be less frequently eclipsed by clouds, and stunning images can be made featuring it in sweeping fall-colored landscapes or reflected in lakes and tundra ponds. You will stay in a small lodge in Kantishna at the end of the Denali Park road, far away from the crowds that can be overwhelming around the entrance of the park. The lodge serves as the base of operations for Kantishna Air Taxi, and their pilots stay there as well. In the evening, we will do an excursion to see and photograph the alpenglow on Mount McKinley reflected in Wonder Lake, where most of the iconic pictures of Mount McKinley have been taken.
Day 3 – Denali National Park (Kantishna)
Today, you will have many options, including a couple of short but very scenic hikes in the beautiful Kantishna Hills to capture some exceptional views of Mount McKinley and the vast tundra landscape in blazing fall color. The fall colors will be at the peak, and opportunities to capture this magical tapestry of colors abound, as the tundra provides an endless variety of colorful subjects: dwarf willows and birch trees only a few inches or feet in height will be in full golden hue, punctuated by the vibrant reds and magentas of wild blueberries and bearberries. You also have the option to go mountain biking on the Park road and old mining roads, fishing in Wonder Lake, or taking a flightseeing tour around Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range. If you prefer, you may just relax in the lodge. You will get a first-hand view of the daily lives of Alaskan Bush pilots and crew.
Day 4 –Denali National Park – Fairbanks
You will backtrack the 90-mile Park road today as you return to the park entrance. Denali National Park is one of the greatest wildlife viewing areas in the world. It’s simply the best place in Alaska to see and photograph some of the large mammals like moose, caribou, Dall sheep and grizzly bears. We may spot these and other smaller animals that also inhabit the park such as foxes, arctic ground squirrels, hoary marmots, pikas, snowshoe hares, and beavers. We will continue our trip back to Fairbanks tonight, and embark on the journey up the Dalton Highway to Wiseman tomorrow.
Day 5 – Fairbanks – Wiseman
You head north along the James Dalton Highway, a 414 mile road connecting Deadhorse to the Elliot Highway near the town of Livengood, located approximately 80 miles north of Fairbanks. Made famous by the recent Ice Road Trucker series, it’s considered by many to be one of North America’s most scenic and beautiful wilderness roads. Also known as the Haul Road, the Dalton Highway is critical to the delivery of material, equipment and supplies to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. You will travel through the boreal forest and north of the Yukon River you will reach a milestone on our trip: the iconic Arctic Circle, an invisible line at the elegant latitude of 66º33′. North of the Arctic Circle is the land of the midnight sun, where the sun never sets during the summer. Soon after crossing the Arctic Circle you will reach the foothills of the Brooks Range, and a couple hours later you will arrive at our oasis in the wilderness in Wiseman, population 13, a historic gold mining community town located in the heart of the Brooks Range. During our nights in Wiseman we will keep a watchful eye for the northern lights. Wiseman is located closed to what scientists describe as the ‘maximum zone close to 67 degrees north’. This makes Wiseman one of the best places in Alaska (and in North America!) where you can see the northern lights most often and with greatest intensity.
Day 6 – Wiseman – Deadhorse
You will explore the surroundings of Wiseman today. Located on the middle fork of the Koyukuk River, much of Wiseman’s colorful gold rush history is preserved in its buildings. You will go for a hike in the alpine tundra near Atigun Pass (4643 ft.), the only pass in the Brooks Range that is crossed by a road. Atigun Pass also is the northernmost pass in the world that is kept open year-round and the highest year-round pass in Alaska. This area is one of the best for hiking along the Dalton Highway and a great place to look for Grizzly Bears, Moose and Dall Sheep. Beyond towering Atigun Pass, the Arctic Slope extends 170 miles, first through rolling tundra foothills, then over the broad, lake-dotted flatlands of the vast Coastal Plain that extends to the Arctic Ocean. We will keep our eyes peeled for Dall Sheep in the mountains and Caribou and Muskoxen on the North Slope. You will spend the night in Deadhorse. The town consists mainly of facilities for the workers and companies that operate at the nearby Prudhoe Bay oil fields.
Day 7 – Deadhorse – Kaktovik
You will spend the morning exploring Deadhorse and head back out along the Dalton Highway if weather permits. Around noon you will board a scheduled flight to Kaktovik. This flight will give you an incredible aerial impression of Alaska’s Arctic. The small Inupiaq Eskimo village of Kaktovik is located on Barter Island, population around 280. You are now only about 60 miles from the Canadian border, but still 1,400 miles from the North Pole! During a tour of the village, you will catch our first glimpse of Alaska Polar Bears at a place called the ‘bone pile’. Polar bears have historically used the barrier islands and sand spits around Barter Island as a resting place, a feeding place and a stopover until winter sea ice forms. However, the possibility of seeing large numbers of bears in one place can be linked to the local whaling. The greatest numbers of bears loafing in the area are typically found in September and October, just prior, during and after the time Kaktovik residents hunt bowhead whales. The Polar Bears feed on unused portions of whale carcasses that are deposited at a “bone pile” a few kilometers from the village during Kaktovik’s subsistence whale harvest season in September and October. The sea ice generally forms soonest again near Barter Island, which explains the bears’ presence in the area.
Day 8 – Kaktovik
Your Inupiaq guide, who is US Coast Guard licensed and vetted by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, will safely guide you by boat and on shore all day along the barrier reefs for rare Polar Bear encounters. Viewing Polar Bears in the wild is probably one of the most unique experiences in the world. Certainly the Polar Bears take center stage, but there are opportunities to see other wildlife. Wherever Polar Bears roam, it is highly likely that arctic fox will follow. The arctic tundra itself—stark and barren as it may at first appear—can be truly breathtaking under an ever-changing Arctic sky. There are very few places on Earth allows this kind of intense Arctic experience.
Day 9 – Kaktovik – Deadhorse – Wiseman
You will have all morning to explore Kaktovik and return once more to see the Polar Bears. By mid-day, you will fly back to Prudhoe Bay on a scheduled flight. You will then slowly work your way back across the Coastal Plain towards the Brooks Range. The snowline will have been creeping down to lower elevations, and it is not unlikely to have snow on the ground at the end of September, which will add another dimension to the already stark landscape. After crossing over Atiugn Pass, you will reach treeline again. Your accommodation in Wiseman will be a welcome sight to relax in. You will keep your eyes peeled again at night for aurora activity. Many factors do affect our ability to see the Northern Lights, however the location of Wiseman close to what scientists describe as the ‘maximum zone close to 67 degrees north’. This makes Wiseman one of the best places in Alaska where you can see the aurora most often and with greatest intensity.
Day 10 – Wiseman
Today will head up Nolan Creek Valley for an all-day hike and enjoy the peace and serenity of the Brooks Range. Some of you may decide to just want to spend the day exploring on your own, at your own pace.
Day 11 – Wiseman – A Taste of Alaska Lodge
You will be heading south this morning, across the Brooks Range and back into the Boreal Forest of Interior Alaska. Driving the Dalton is always an adventure. Frommer’s Guide described the Dalton Highway as follows: “The experience of the Dalton Highway for a traveler is so far beyond the ordinary as to require a whole new frame of reference to take it all in. The road is so very long, so remote and free of traffic, and the scenery is so mind-boggling in its grandeur and repetition, that after a time it feels like you’re living in a dream. At some point, you have to swallow and say to yourself, “I guess I didn’t know that much about the world after all.” Your destination for the night is A Taste of Alaska Lodge, a gorgeous B&B along Chena Hot Springs Road.
Day 12 – A Taste of Alaska Lodge – Chena Hot Springs – Fairbanks
Today your destination is the Chena Hot Springs Resort, internationally known for its natural mineral hot springs and its Aurora Ice Museum, which we will visit first. This facility is kept at a constant 28 degrees F and is operational year round with the same geothermal energy that keeps the resort open for business. The museum features a gallery and ice bar, overhead chandeliers made of individually carved ice crystals which change color every six seconds mimicking the northern lights, countless sculptures including a gigantic chess set, life sized jousting knights, an ice fireplace and four galleries with varying themes. and prime location for viewing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). After lunch, you will appreciate soaking your tried bodies in the legendary healing mineral waters. Not only is this a place where you can enjoy a dip in a natural hot tub (the hot springs source is 165 degrees F), but the resort itself is an excellent example of geothermal energy and sustainable design. The entire resort is powered by the utilization of the 165 degrees hot springs ground water, which flows to a heat exchanger to develop the heating system loop and transformed to electrical power for lighting and power at the resort. There is also a green house where the fruits and vegetables used at the restaurant are grown. You will be heading back to Fairbanks in the afternoon, drop your bags at your hotel before enjoying your farewell dinner at the Pump House Restaurant, which offers one of the best dining experiences in Fairbanks.
Day 13 – Fairbanks
This morning you bid farewell to Alaska and each other. You will return home from your Alaska Polar Bear and Northern Lights Tour with a wealth of images and stories and new friendships. And you will have gained a better appreciation for a unique part of Alaska and its majestic wildlife that very few people will ever encounter.
“The Alaska Northern Polar Bear and Northern Lights Tour with the Denali Add-on was a special time in our lives. Many fantastic memories!”
Peter Zemek and Merran Matheson, Australia
“Thanks again for making the trip so special and for a great adventure.”
Hans & Anina Bodenstein, South Africa
“This will always remain one of the most lovely trips of mine. What I best liked in your tour is the family like bond and cozy care you have taken for us amidst difficult conditions.“
Nirmalya Chakraborty, New York
“Thanks again for a once in a lifetime trip!”
Julianne Skai Arbor, California
“Thanks again for such a fantastic trip, don’t think I will be surpassing that one anytime soon.”
Alison Byrne, Ireland
“We got to experience the adventure of a lifetime!”
Ruth Zhang and David Tan, Singapore
“I wanted to extend my sincerest gratitude for allowing me to join you on this trip. I saw some truly incredible things, and you made that happen.”
Michelle Theall, Colorado
“I think this might be one of the best adventures I’ve taken.”
Miquel Correll, Texas
“Just a word of thanks and appreciation. We arrived with the expectation of snow and Polar bears, and in fact we experienced much, much more. It is clear that you ‘enjoy’ what you do… and that perhaps is the most important part of success!!”
Frans Badenhorst, South Africa
**We only require a $500 deposit per person to hold your space.