Take a course in Alaska's wildest classrooms!

2017 Field Courses

Alaska Geographic offers high quality learning experiences. Popular multi-day field courses immerse participants in intensive wilderness-based experiences led by experts in fields ranging from wildflowers and wolves to art and archaeology. These are active learning vacations. Participants must be in good physical condition and ready for some of the challenges of exploring Alaska. Hiking distance and physical fitness levels are described in greater detail for each course. These courses are accredited through the University of Alaska.

Birds of Wonder Lake (Lodge-based)

June 3 – 6
Denali National Park and Preserve
$1080 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($1200 Non-Member Price)

Spring is a great pivot point of the year for birds as they endure another epic journey of migration.  Join us for three nights and four days at the beautiful Skyline Lodge in the Kantishna region of Denali.  With long-time Denali resident and naturalist Nan Eagleson, we’ll enjoy the arrival of Denali’s first spring migrants who come to rub shoulders with hardy winter residents.  We’ll learn how to identify birds by sight and sound, and explore kettle ponds to search for waterfowl in vibrant full-breeding plumage.  We’ll also discuss avian behavior, habitat selection, food habits and of course migration ecology.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip and including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

Two professional development credits are available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Birds of Denali

June 9 – 11
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

Denali comes alive in June with birds arriving from all over the world to their summer home in the far north.  These migrants join the hardy year round residents to offer the Denali birder amazing opportunities to view and study a diverse avifauna in a spectacular landscape.  With long-time Denali resident and naturalist Nan Eagleson, we’ll venture out into the tundra and taiga to learn how to identify birds by sight and sound.  We’ll also discuss avian behavior, habitat selection, food habits and migration ecology.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip and including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Exploring Prince William Sound: Sea Kayaking

Course designed for teachersJune 7 – 13
Chugach National Forest
$750 Alaska Geographic member price ($825 Alaska Geographic non-member price) 

Explore the scenic heart of Prince William Sound by kayak and by foot to encounter glaciers and whales, sea lions and shorebirds. Share new ways to bring the natural world into your classroom. Spend six days camping, kayaking, and discovering with Chugach National Forest Wilderness Manager Tim Lydon. Emphasis will be placed on exploring the area’s human and natural history, with the human relationship to nature as a central theme. Registration for this course will be handled differently than others, with a goal of including active teachers from different regions of Alaska. Please note, registration for this course is through an application and completing the application does not guarantee a spot on the course. The application period will be from January 10 – 20th. Priority will be given to current Alaskan classroom teachers for this course.

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Participants must be in good fitness and health and equipped for sudden changes in weather.  No previous kayak experience is necessary, but participants must be capable of getting in and out of a kayak, and of paddling a kayak for several hours at a time. Participants must be able to walk short distances over uneven coastal terrain carrying up to 45 pounds of personal and group gear. Please see course overview for more information.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk managementRead more here. 

Three professional development credits through the University of Alaska are included in the cost of this course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

Wildflower Walks

June 19 – 21
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

Each summer Denali blooms in a vibrant tapestry of wildflowers. Join Wendy Mahovlic, member of Denali National Park’s botany staff, for an exploration of these beautiful mountainside colors. While hiking the hillsides we’ll learn how to identify wildflowers by sight, with a hand lens, and with field guides.  We’ll also investigate how subarctic wildflowers adapt to extreme latitude and high elevation. This is designed as an introductory course to Denali’s wildflowers and will involve two days of off-trail hiking.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrain, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip with as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and a significant stream crossing with water levels that are above hiking boots. Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Denali's Large Mammals: Past, Present, and Future

June 30 – July 2
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

100 years ago, Alaska’s first national park, what is now Denali National Park and Preserve, was set aside as a game refuge to protect wildlife populations. Join us in celebrating Denali’s centennial and the conservation of wildlife habitat by learning about and observing Denali’s iconic large mammals. With Alaska Geographic educator NJ Gates, we’ll explore the natural history and habitat of Denali’s “Big Five”: bears, wolves, sheep, caribou, and moose.  We’ll take a look at large mammal research, populations and changes to the ecosystem over the last 100 years and contemplate what the next 100 years may hold for these species.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Through the Eyes of Scientists: Denali's Cycles and Climate Change

July 3 – 5
Denali National Park and Preserve
$306 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($340 Non-Member Price)

After a century of protection as a national park, Denali is well known as a living laboratory, an intact ecosystem where we can learn about naturally occurring cycles like plant succession, predator prey connections, glacial movements, and permafrost dynamics.  Many studies have examined how all of Denali’s components interact, and how these systems change over time.  However, in recent years, scientists have witnessed significant changes in those systems due to a rapidly changing climate.  What will the next century bring?  Join Denali National Park Service scientists in the field for a close up look at Denali’s ecosystem and hear the latest in climate change research.  We’ll visit hotspots in the park to learn about causes of change in Denali – what’s “normal” and what isn’t?  Come find out!

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Denali's Mosses and Lichens

July 17 – 19
Denali National Park and Preserve
$306 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($340 Non-Member Price)

Interior Alaska is truly a land of mosses and lichens. They are draped on trees, nestled together in the tundra, and plastered on rocks. With a combined total of over 800 species, they are one of the most diverse species groups in Denali National Park and Preserve. Join Denali botanist Sarah Stehn for an introduction to the smallest, yet ever-present members of Alaska’s vegetation. We will spend our time investigating the biology and ecology of these mysterious organisms, striking out across the landscape to explore the many microsites they inhabit, while learning to identify the most common and charismatic species.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

My Wilderness: Storytelling Workshop and Performance

July 21 – 23
Denali National Park and Preserve
$360 Alaska Geographic Member Price ($400 Non-Member Price)

Do you have a story to share about an experience in Denali or another wild land? Join expert story coaches from Anchorage storytelling program Arctic Entries as they reveal the secrets to capturing and keeping an audience’s attention … just by talking about yourself! Your story can be funny, inspiring, humbling, or something else entirely. Immersed in the wilderness of Denali, we will explore storytelling principles, share our own stories, and learn how to make our story the best it can be. The workshop will culminate with a group storytelling performance — starring you — on the final evening of the course, on the theme of “In the wilderness: stories of being outside, finding yourself, and the trail less traveled.”

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 4 miles round trip including as much as 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

Register Online

Denali's Micro Wilderness: Insects and Spiders

July 28 – 30
Denali National Park and Preserve
$306 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($340 Non-Member Price)

Denali is well known for its large mammals and big mountain, but a closer look reveals a vast microwilderness waiting to be discovered. Denali’s insects, spiders, and other arthropods play a critical role in Denali’s ecosystems and have only recently been the subject of more in depth research. Join entomologists Jessica Rykken from the National Park Service and Derek Sikes from the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a behind the scenes look at their 5 year arthropod study and an exploration of this fascinating world. We’ll visit several research sites to learn about the different insects found there and the important roles they play in Denali. As a group, we will help collect some of these species to add to the current study and learn more about what this research has revealed so far.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Mushrooms of Denali

July 31 – August 2
Denali National Park and Preserve
$432 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($480 Non-Member Price)

Late summer showcases a wealth of mushrooms throughout interior Alaska. Join renowned mycologist Dr. Gary Laursen in Denali and learn various techniques for identifying native wild mushrooms. Taking clues from the landscape, we’ll hone our observation skills to help recognize fungal friends and foes.  We’ll gain experience using field guides and learn how making spore prints assists in mushroom identification. We’ll learn about the many roles that mushrooms play in Denali’s vastly different environments as we gain an appreciation for wild mushrooms and how they influence our lives.

moderate hiking iconHiking will be moderate, covering distances of approximately 1 – 2 miles round trip, and including as much as 800 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and small stream crossings. Participants should be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

Register Online

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

Register Online

Denali's Large Mammals: Past, Present, and Future

August 4 – 6
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

100 years ago, Alaska’s first national park, what is now Denali National Park and Preserve, was set aside as a game refuge to protect wildlife populations. Join us in celebrating Denali’s centennial and the conservation of wildlife habitat by learning about and observing Denali’s iconic large mammals. With Alaska Geographic educator NJ Gates, we’ll explore the natural history and habitat of Denali’s “Big Five”: bears, wolves, sheep, caribou, and moose.  We’ll take a look at large mammal research, populations and changes to the ecosystem over the last 100 years and contemplate what the next 100 years may hold for these species.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be moderately strenuous, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on rough, uneven tundra and forest terrains and will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots.  Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Wolves of Denali

August 7 – 9
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

Wolves are a potent symbol of wilderness in our society, and Denali is one of the world’s best places for learning about these elusive predators. Join Denali National Park’s wolf biologist Bridget Borg in the field as we explore predator and prey relationships, wolf behavior, social structure, and wildlife management issues facing the National Park Service. Learn the latest in wolf research as we search wildlife corridors for tracks and signs of this fascinating species.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be moderately strenuous over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrain, covering distances of approximately 3-5 miles round trip with as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain.  We will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots. Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

From the Soil to the Sky: 100 Years of Connection at Denali National Park

August 11 – 13
Denali National Park and Preserve
$333 Alaska Geographic Member Pric
e ($370 Non-Member Price)

Denali National Park is celebrating its Centennial in 2017, marking 100 years of protecting the natural abundance of this sub-arctic ecosystem.  In honor of the Centennial, we put together a list of 100 species important to Denali, but like John Muir said, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe”.  While seeking these 100 species, we’ll explore the meaningful connections between them.   We’ll strengthen our naturalist skills, and then take our knowledge of Denali and love of wilderness to the next level, by learning how to share that knowledge and passion with others in meaningful and inspiring ways. This course will be taught by long-time Denali resident Nan Eagleson and local writer Erica Watson.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be moderately strenuous over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrain, covering distances of approximately 5 miles round trip with as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain.  We will likely encounter wet tundra / forest conditions and stream crossings with water levels that are above hiking boots. Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

One professional development credit is available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

Ecology of Migratory Birds

August 25 – 28
Denali National Park and Preserve
$396 Alaska Geographic Member Price ($440 Non-Member Price)

Autumn in Denali is bustling with activity as resident birds prepare for the long winter and migratory birds start their amazing journeys. The Wonder Lake region is one of the best places in Denali to search for flocks of migratory birds and study their behavior. Join Carol McIntyre, National Park Service Wildlife Biologist, to explore ridges, forests and wetlands in search of the many different species of birds that live or migrate through these areas.  In addition to watching migrating birds in action, we’ll learn about the many ways scientists study bird migration, and share discussions on the ecology and conservation of these amazing species.

strenuous hiking icon

Course participants must be able to hike up to 5 to 8 miles a day across rugged and uneven terrain. Daily hikes include walking up and down small ridges and slopes, bush-whacking through alder and willow thickets and forested areas, and crossing smaller streams and small wetlands. Participants must be in good physical condition.

Like any outdoor activity, there are inherent risks associated with our field courses yet we actively manage our exposures and depend on you to play a role in our risk management. Read more here.

Two professional development credits are available for this course through the University of Alaska. You may choose this option when registering for the course. The syllabus and registration form will be available in the spring.

This course is full. Please email courses@alaskageographic.org to be put on the waitlist.

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