Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Aboard the Denali Star, wind through the majestic valleys of the Alaska Range.
  • Stay at Winterlake Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set along the historic Iditarod Trail, and enjoy an exclusive dogsledding demonstration.
  • Hike or bike through Denali National Park’s backcountry with a naturalist guide.
  • Forage wild ingredients for a frontier-fusion cooking demonstration.



Venture into the heart of Alaska, discovering remote corners of the far north explored by few others on Earth. Delve into the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve, and experience the wilds of the historic Iditarod Trail from your base at a stunning National Geographic Unique Lodge. Explore the rugged peaks and tundra valleys of the Alaska Range, seeking out moose and grizzly bears with a seasoned naturalist and taking in views of Denali’s lofty summit. Then see these epic landscapes from unique vantage points—on a scenic train ride and, if you wish, on a helicopter flightseeing experience.

Day 1: Arrive Fairbanks, Alaska

Arrive in Fairbanks and transfer to your hotel on the edge of the Chena River. Pay a visit to the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North, which features exhibitions on Alaska's biological diversity and cultural traditions.

Accommodations:Pike's Waterfront Lodge
Day 2: Denali National Park

Travel to Denali National Park and Preserve via private vehicle. Upon arrival, board a shared shuttle to your lodge, located deep in the heart of the Denali backcountry. This scenic journey lasts six hours and provides ample opportunities for spotting wildlife such as moose and herds of caribou. Settle into your lodge in Kantishna, where guides will brief you on the variety of available wilderness excursions, customized for every activity level.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:Kantishna Roadhouse or Denali Backcountry Lodge
Days 3-4: Denali National Park

Explore the wilds of Denali, joining the lodge excursions of your choice. Set out on a hike in the Kantishna Hills alongside a naturalist, learning about the tundra’s flora and fauna and taking in spectacular mountain views. You may also wish to discover these stunning landscapes by mountain bike, pedaling along old mining roads or riding to the mirror-like waters of Wonder Lake. Other available excursions include fly-fishing, panning for gold, and wildlife viewing.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:Kantishna Roadhouse or Denali Backcountry Lodge
Day 5: Denali Star/Talkeetna

Rise early to catch the lodge shuttle back to the park entrance. From here, independently board the Denali Star for a scenic train ride through the Alaska wilderness. Settle into a first-class cabin, and take in magnificent scenery through the domed, panoramic windows of the top deck. Glide across rugged landscapes blanketed in stately spruce and magnificent purple fireweed and intersected by shimmering salmon streams. Disembark in Talkeetna and transfer to your hotel, which offers views of Denali’s lofty peak—the highest in North America.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Day 6: Winterlake Lodge: South-Central Alaska Wilderness

Board a floatplane to Winterlake Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World perched on the edge of a lake along the Iditarod Trail and accessible only by air. Settle into your split pine cabin and immerse yourself in Alaska’s breathtaking backcountry. Join a guide for an afternoon dedicated to the Iditarod, an opportunity arranged exclusively for National Geographic guests. Kayak across the lake to meet up with this historic trail, and learn about the pioneers who forged its path through the wilderness. You’ll also meet some huskies from the lodge’s dog-mushing school and watch a dogsled demonstration. After lunch, hike to Red Lake for a fly-fishing lesson, learn about wild edibles and forage with your guide, or relax by the lake. Return to Winterlake for the nightly wine tasting and a dinner featuring the award-winning cuisine of Chef Kirsten Dixon.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:This night includes a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge.
At the edge of a lake along the historic Iditarod Trail, the hand-built wood cabins of Winterlake offer a beautiful base for your adventures fishing, hiking, or dogsledding in Alaska's backcountry.
Day 7: Winterlake Lodge: South-Central Alaska Wilderness

This morning, join a yoga class if you wish. Then venture out into south-central Alaska’s trail-free backcountry with an expert guide and hike to the top of Wolverine Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with views of Denali’s summit. Explore the surrounding tundra, seeking out grizzly bears, wolves, and arctic ptarmigan birds. Return to the lodge for a frontier-fusion cooking demonstration. For an additional cost, you can also choose to board a helicopter that will whisk you away to a remote patch of wilderness for some alpine hiking, glacier trekking, white-water rafting, or fly-fishing. This evening, take a kayak or boat out onto the lake for wildlife viewing, or attend a talk by a naturalist.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Winterlake Lodge
Day 8: Anchorage

Fly to Anchorage and take a private city tour, including a stop at the acclaimed Alaska Native Heritage Center. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your leisure. Consider a visit to the Anchorage Museum, or take a stroll or bike ride along the scenic Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, frequented by moose and other area wildlife.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:Hotel Captain Cook
Day 9: Anchorage/Depart

Transfer to the Anchorage airport and catch your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast