Best of Alaska Fall Landscapes, Glaciers, & Moose Photo Tour 2023
The majestic mountain landscapes of Southcentral Alaska is a fall color photographer’s dream. A visual delight of wilderness landscapes with rugged mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes and cascading streams during the display of peak fall colors that can be photographed in all directions right from the highway system. Untold miles of yellows of aspens, birches and cottonwoods with colorful red and orange understory below rugged peaks greet the intrepid photographer seeking the ultimate fall color photo destination absent of crowds of photographers found at other popular fall destinations.
But there is more included in this action packed 7-day adventure than just roadside landscapes – things that can’t be found at other popular fall destinations in the Continental United States. Backcountry excursions include guided moose in rut sessions in a scenic valley and remote access to sweeping glacier views via helicopter, off-road vehicle, and boat. The icing on the cake will be possible northern lights displays. The northern reaches of the Susitna and Matanuska Valleys are close to the persistent aurora oval to afford viewable displays on clear nights. Aurora activity is more frequent around the equinoxes which our tour dates are close to. Compelling foregrounds with near zero light pollution are within easy reach on this tour.
Our small group will travel in a roomy high top van, stay at quintessential Alaska lodges (except in Anchorage for first and last nights) while photographing and experiencing some of the best of Alaska’s wilderness without leaving modern amenities behind. In between shoots we will conduct informal and valuable image critique and processing sessions to get the most out of your newly created imagery.
This unique and intimate Alaskan photo tour is personally crafted and led by one of Alaska’s most experienced travel and adventure photography teams from 33 years experience photographing and adventuring in this area.
WHEN: Sep 10 – 16, 2023 (7 Days/6 Nights)
WHERE: Starts & Ends in Anchorage, AK
FEE: Single: $4,395; Double*: $3,795 each
GROUP LIMIT: 6 – TOUR FULL
WHO: Advanced beginner and above
FITNESS LEVEL: Easy – Moderate ⓘ
REGISTER BY: May 1, 2023
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* Double occupancy available for two participants traveling together and sharing a bed.
✓ Small group (up to 6 participants) for maximum personal attention and group mobility.
✓ Luxury van travel and rustic, locally owned and operated Alaskan lodges.
✓ Unique and remote excursions to glaciers via helicopter and boat taxi.
✓ Hike-in bull moose photography sessions with knowledgeable local guide.
✓ Prominent, photograph-able views of Denali, North America’s tallest mountain (weather dependent).
✓ Potential for capturing northern lights above Denali.
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THIS TOUR
We are big supporters of sustainable tourism and practitioners of Leave No Trace. As much as possible we support local businesses with a commitment to quality and service. The lodges, B&Bs, restaurants, and even the van rental are all from locally owned businesses. Aviation and boat travel are mainstays of transportation in Alaska in this vast and largely roadless wilderness and allows access to outstanding wilderness locations. On location we practice and insist on Leave No Trace principles. Our small groups traveling in one vehicle allow us to minimize our impact and presence. Our use of helicopter transport is over vastly uninhabited and trail-less areas so there is minimal, if any, disturbance to residential areas, wildlife or to wilderness travelers. Our small group maintains a light footprint on the glacier or on a nearby ridges that have no trail access.
We encourage participants to stay an extra day or two at the end of the tour to increase chances for capturing aurora and exploring the other photographic opportunities Alaska provides with their newfound skills.
Our photo adventure starts in Anchorage where our introduction to Southcentral Alaska awaits in the rugged mountains of Chugach State Park (larger than Grand Teton National Park). From here we photograph moose gathering for the fall rut with a knowledgable local guide in a beautiful mountain setting. From Anchorage we head north to Palmer, Alaska’s farm community with its picturesque colony barns below the towering Pioneer Peak rising sharply nearly 5500 feet above the rich volcanic soil. From our quaint B&B, we have access to 3 great mountain ranges: the Alaska Range and Denali to the north, the nearby Talkeetna Mountains and the Chugach above the Matanuska Valley. On a clear evening or morning we will capture commanding views of Denali, North America’s highest mountain at 20,320’, and other impressive peaks of the Alaska Range rising above fall colors. There are several great vantage points for possible aurora borealis displays should conditions be favorable.
The nearby Talkeetna Mountains and Hatcher Pass are rich with intense fall colors, sharp rugged peaks and boulder strewn mountain streams that photograph well even in stormy weather. Another backcountry excursion awaits as we travel by boat to a remote area at the base of a glacier for more fall colors and icebergs in a glacier lake.
From Palmer we travel nearly 90 miles up the stunning Matanuska River and stay two nights at a rustic Alaskan lodge in the Glacier View area, a small community along the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway, exploring the peak fall colors of the upper Matanuska River. But that’s not all! One of Alaska’s prominent glaciers is a short helicopter flight away. Our helicopter access right from our lodge takes us to a remote ridge landing with tundra fall colors and sweeping glacier views. Along the way we do some aerial shooting of the long, sweeping glacier and towering Chugach peaks and, if glacier conditions permit, landing and photographing right on the glacier itself where we might find deep blue pools of summer meltwater. Our tour ends with another opportunity to photograph Alaska moose in Chugach State Park near Anchorage.
✓ All transportation provided to and from accommodations in Anchorage in a high-top 15 passenger van.
✓ All off-road transportation including helicopter and boat rides.
✓ 6 nights of lodging – each room with a private bathroom.
✓ Constructive image critique sessions with post processing instruction and guidance.
✓ Michael and Lauri as your guides and instructors.
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
✓ Transportation to and from your home to Anchorage, AK
✓ Personal expenses
PLEASE NOTE: Itinerary is tentative and may change based on weather conditions to facilitate the best photo opportunities. Any night during the tour has potential for aurora displays and when possible the next day’s schedule will be adjusted for sleeping in.
DAY 1: (SUN SEP 10) ARRIVAL DAY
Our photo adventure kicks off at 4PM at the hotel conference room for an orientation and motivational presentation on photography in Alaska, details of our adventure followed by a group dinner. PLEASE NOTE: Alaska is 4 hours earlier than the East Coast. To help you adjust to the difference in time zones, you may wish to arrive a day or two earlier to acclimate. We will be happy to assist you with booking additional lodging in Anchorage. Our hotel has free airport shuttle service. Please plan to arrive no later than 2PM on the first day.
LODGING INFO: Each room will have a King size bed and include amenities such as a coffeemaker, microwave, a personal refrigerator, tv, and private bathroom.
DAY 2: (MON SEP 11) MOOSE & FALL COLORS
Our day begins early meeting at 6:15AM. We’ll head to Chugach State Park, meet our guide and hike up to 2.5 miles (one-way) in search of moose that congregate in the area for their mating season. Upon return and after an early lunch we head Northeast on the Glenn Highway towards Matanuska Glacier, stopping at several scenic locations to photograph the spectacular Chugach mountains and the miles of fall colors. After checking into our rustic cabins, we will break for dinner followed by more evening landscapes very close to where we are staying. Conditions permitting, we could possibly photograph aurora too!
LODGING INFO: Each classic cabin will have a Queen size bed (and most will have an additional twin size bed). Amenities include a Keurig coffeemaker, microwave, a personal refrigerator, and private bathroom. All linens, towels, soap, shampoo & conditioner are provided too. There is free wifi, but as this lodge is in a rural area, it is strongest in the main lodge where the restaurant is located.
DAY 3: (TUE SEP 12) GLACIER and LANDSCAPES via HELICOPTER ACCESS
We start with an early sunrise landscape photo shoot at one of several nearby mountain lakes. Afterwards, we return to the lodge for a late breakfast. We have some free time for image critique and post processing, or catching up on sleep from aurora shooting the previous night. In the afternoon our helicopter ferries the group to a remote area ablaze in tundra fall colors with sweeping glacier views. Conditions permitting, we will also do aerials and a shoot right on the glacier for ice features. Upon return we will do more road-based sunset photography and dinner.
DAY 4: (WED SEP 13) BOAT CHARTER & GLACIER/ICEBERG LANDSCAPES
After our local sunrise shoot, breakfast and check out, we travel approximately 80 miles to Palmer to our next accommodations – a Bed and Breakfast nestled on 8 acres of spruce forest – to check in and drop off our gear before heading to another backcountry photo excursion of glacier views, icebergs and more fall colors. We access this location using a charter jet boat that takes us to a moraine where we will spend a couple of hours photographing possibly until sunset returning for a late dinner.
LODGING INFO: The Bed & Breakfast is a 4200 sq ft log home. We rented the whole place and therefore will have access to all the common space, the dining room, and the large kitchen. Each room has its own private bathroom. 5 of the 6 rooms have at least one Queen bed. The 6th room only has a Full Size bed. All linens, towels, shampoo & conditioner are provided as well as basic breakfast items such as muffins, oatmeal, and other items.
DAY 5: (THU SEP 14) DENALI SUNRISE & FALL LANDSCAPES
Today and the next will be our opportunities to catch a sunrise of a lifetime. With clear weather, sunrise on the “Mountain” is about a 2 hour drive north to one of the best views of Denali, catching alpenglow and first light on the glacial clad Alaska Range above fall colors. This will call for early departures. If there is strong potential for aurora displays our schedule will change to shoot displays then travel a short distance for sunrise. We return to the lodge for well deserved meals and sleep. In the absence of clear weather and aurora, nearby locations near Hatcher Pass affords endless quality photography even in stormy weather. We will spend our time there.
DAY 6: (FRI SEP 15) FALL LANDSCAPES
We’ll check out of our B&B around 11AM and check back in to our last night’s lodging in Anchorage. However, there is plenty of time before check out to catch a sunrise on Denali if the previous day doesn’t work out weather wise. After check out, there are several quality options for photography either in Hatcher Pass or heading back toward Anchorage and exploring other parts of Chugach State Park for more fall color and mountain landscapes. We check in to our hotel (same as the first night’s) for our last official night of our tour.
DAY 7: (SAT SEP 16) MOOSE ROUND #2 – END OF TRIP
This morning we get another chance to photograph big moose going out early again with our guide. We return to the hotel by 11AM to say our goodbyes and treasure the experience we all just shared. Please don’t plan to fly out any earlier than 3PM on our last day.
The official group meeting location will be at 4:00PM at the Dimond Center Hotel (700 E Dimond Hotel, Anchorage, AK). Alaska is 4 hours earlier than Eastern Standard Time and 1 hour earlier than Pacific Standard Time so you may want to consider arriving a day or two before to allow yourself time to adjust. If you need help in making additional lodging arrangements, we’d be happy to assist.
The Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is a busy, visitor-friendly airport with plenty of flights daily. Some of the major airlines that service to Anchorage include:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
There is a shuttle service from the airport to the first night’s accommodations (at the Dimond Center Hotel). They provide 24-hour airport shuttle service. Call them at 907.770.5000 when you arrive baggage claim so they can inform the driver and also guide you where to meet the shuttle.
Dimond Center Hotel is 5.6 miles away from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: Our moose photography sessions may require up to a 5 mile round trip hike with camera gear on cold and/or rainy mornings. Most of the trail is wide with a gentle grade but the hike also requires off trail sections (to get to where the moose are) on wet, uneven spongy terrain, or tall wet grasses and brush. Other parts of the tour including on tundra ridges via helicopter transport will require some hiking on uneven tundra and sloped terrain. There will be no technical hiking on this trip. Any glacier walking via helicopter access will be on flat ice covered in rock for traction.
WEATHER: Alaska has a harsh climate. One of the reasons for a 7-day event is to stack the odds in our favor of catching some spectacular light particularly for seeing and photographing Denali. It is unrealistic to go anywhere, especially Alaska, for only a day or two and expect magical light conditions that produce the kind of images we all seek. While many of us want warm sunny conditions with direct light for our photography day, Mother Nature does not always deliver. Please do not get discouraged.
Our tour is timed to take place during peak fall with maximum red and gold colors. With careful and creative techniques, it is still possible to get colorful and beautiful landscape images in cloudy weather and even light rain. Remember, often times, bad weather can equate to great photos. Moody low clouds are frequent and can result in great mountain landscapes and intense forest and stream colors can be captured in the rain.
FACILITIES: While this trip is about wilderness landscapes without leaving modern amenities, participants may be in remote locations with no restroom facilities for up to several hours. Please be prepared to answer nature’s call in actual nature if necessary and we always practice Leave No Trace. We will always have bathroom necessities with us and available should the need arise.
PAYMENT & CANCELLATION POLICIES
PAYMENT TERMS: A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space. Required deposit amount is $500. Final payments, which can be made in installments, are due 90 days prior to tour start date.
When a participant cancels a reserved spot in a regularly scheduled (i.e., non-custom) photo tour, it takes time and effort to fill the vacancy. Please be sure to check your personal schedule well ahead of the dates of the trip to make sure there are no conflicts. If you discover that you will not be able to attend we would very much appreciate knowing this as soon as possible.
The following fee schedule applies:
If your cancellation is received more than 90 days prior to the beginning of a tour or workshop, we will refund your registration fee less a 5% of your initial deposit. Any fees paid up to this point, less 5% of your initial deposit, can be applied to another scheduled tour or converted to a private photo tour or private photography instruction session.
As other vendors we book with have limited refund policies, if your cancellation is received less than 90 days prior to the beginning of a tour or workshop, we will retain the entire balance paid to date unless you are able to locate someone who will fill your position.
If the photo workshop or tour is full and someone from the waiting list can take your spot, we will refund your entire balance paid to date less 5% of your initial deposit.
No refund of any fees will be made for cancellations after the tour begins.
In the event that a tour must be cancelled due to inadequate enrollment, all registration fees received by us will be refunded in full or, if you prefer, your registration fees paid up to this point can be applied to another scheduled tour or converted to a private photo tour.
We are not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets or lodging arrangements you made in the event of a tour cancellation. Please do not make any travel arrangements until you have received notification that the tour has met its minimal participant requirement which will be known at least 90 days prior to the start date OR consider the purchase of trip insurance.
We highly suggest TravelGuard® or similar travel insurance policies to assist you in case of last minute plan changes and emergencies.
“It was one of the best trips I’ve done. They [Michael and Lauri] keep it to a small group which is great. They know Alaska very well and took us to some amazing areas. The helicopter trip to the Matanuska Glacier was a highlight and it was great to have time on the glacier and nearby. They are both very attentive to the participants and go out of their way to help with everything. “
– Sharon P. (White Salmon, WA)
“Excellent photography trip across the board. Great trip leaders who took us to the best places. The trip was very well organized and the execution was perfect. … Included in package was a helicopter ride up to a glacier and beyond, and a boat ride to a glacier for a different perspective. We also had 2 outings specifically looking for moose, and Aurora outings as well. Accommodations were very nice. Both Michael and his wife, Laurie, were very engaged with the group and both really went out of their way to make sure the trip met our expectations and beyond.”
– Helen M. (Tucson, AZ)
Have a Question About This Tour? Send us an email.
Guided by one of Alaska’s most experienced commercial photographers and photo tour leaders.
DeYoung Photo Workshops, LLC