Alaska Range Aurora and Winter Landscapes Photo Tour 2023

Photographing ice formations in glacial ice cave © Michael DeYoung

Many know that Fairbanks is one of the best places in the world to view aurora borealis. Just 2 hours down the road the aurora displays are just as active but with mountain foregrounds of the Eastern Alaska Range. The views of big rugged peaks just south of Delta Junction are stunning and this area will serve as our base for 4 nights as we pursue the northern lights during peak activity. But that’s not all. During the day our photo quests will include big mountain landscapes still cloaked in winter white, a unique glacier ice cave and a shoot of Alaska mushers and their dog team with scenic backdrops.

Join Michael and Lauri as they share their 34 years of expertise and passion in capturing the magic of the northern winter landscape and maximize all opportunities to photograph the aurora borealis with mountain foregrounds. Though winter still has a firm grip on the Alaska Range and the Interior in late March, the extreme cold and dark are gone and we could also see very bright and pleasant days as well. March daylight increases rapidly at 8 minutes a day giving us an equal mix of day and night. Late March and April also usually see peak aurora activity and an increase in clear days.

Our instructional based tour is timed to maximize potential for aurora displays and winter scenery.

This unique and intimate Alaskan photo tour is personally crafted and led by one of Alaska’s most experienced travel and adventure photography teams.

WHEN: Mar 26 – 31, 2023 (6 Days/6 Nights)

WHERE: Starts & Ends in Fairbanks, AK

FEE: Single: $3,995; Double*: $3,195 each

DEPOSIT: $500

GROUP LIMIT: 6

WHO: Advanced beginner and above

FITNESS LEVEL: Easy – Moderate

REGISTER BY: Dec 16, 2022

* Double occupancy available for two participants traveling together and sharing a bed.

HIGHLIGHTS

Small group (up to 6 participants) for maximum personal attention and group mobility.

Luxury van travel and quaint Alaska lodging.

Photograph an Alaskan dog musher and her dog team.

Optimal potential for capturing northern lights above the Alaska Range.

Click on any image for a larger version to display

SPECIAL NOTES AND CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THIS TOUR

Why a 6-7 day workshop? All northern latitudes under the aurora oval have predominantly cloudy climates, especially mountainous areas but this is where the best foregrounds for night skies are. It is possible anywhere in the north to have several consecutive days of continuously cloudy periods even in the dry spring season. Climatologically, late March into April have the greatest number of clear days of the year in this part of Alaska. Aurora frequency also peaks near the equinoxes – late March and late September. We feel at least 6 nights are necessary for decent chances of capturing an aurora event.

If cloud cover prevents aurora displays from being seen, we want participants to still capture something truly unique and Alaskan. This is why we are including a unique glacier ice cave shoot and a scenic and possibly participatory shoot of Alaska’s most popular sport – dog mushing. Glacier ice caves are not permanent and change over time. This is a normal part of glacier dynamics, but we stand a really good chance at getting to a really unique ice cave and we can spend hours crafting artistic imagery. Group willing, we can even return at night for night painting and if aurora displays are in the right direction we can even combine aurora and ice cave shooting. That will need to be evaluated on location. Our ice cave exploration is non-technical and only requires traction devices to prevent possible slipping on a flat icy surface.

Our workshop is timed for maximum aurora viewing potential with peak frequency around the equinox that corresponds with decent chances for clear night skies and with interesting mountain foregrounds but there is no guarantee that we will see a photographable display. We will do everything possible to travel to where skies might be the clearest and we have 3 directions we can travel to for several hours if necessary. Be leery of any outfitter or anyone who guarantees aurora displays.

  

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. 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.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: The hike to our ice cave adventure is 1.3 miles each way on a usually well packed snow trail. Traction devices (Kahtoola Exo spikes) will be provided.

WEATHER: Alaska has a harsh climate. One of the reasons for a 6-day event is to stack the odds in our favor of catching some spectacular light particularly for seeing and photographing morning and evening mountain alpenglow in cold air and of course, aurora displays. This time of year can see delightful sunny pleasant days but winter is far from over. Interior Alaska is not a particularly windy place but some mountain locations can see occasional strong winds. New snowfall is possible and even welcomed. Forested areas with new snow always make for better imagery. Delta Junction is situated at 64 north latitude and 1227’ in elevation. Late March sees average low temperatures in the single digits above zero and average highs in the upper 20’s Further south in the Alaska Range where we can be at elevations up to 3500’, expect temperatures to be roughly 10 degrees colder. Warm or cold periods can see temperatures that are 10-20 degrees below or above averages. March is the driest month of the year. Participants need to be prepared for anything from -20F to +50F.

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.

WHAT'S INCLUDED
All ground transportation provided to and from accommodations in Fairbanks in a high-top passenger van.

Single occupancy lodging for 6 nights.

Public lands entrance fees.

Michael as your guide, instructor and motivator, and Lauri as your cheerful driver and logistics manager.

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Transportation to and from your home to Fairbanks, AK

Meals

Personal expenses

ITINERARY

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 getting adequate rest.

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 Fairbanks.

DAY 1 (SUN MAR 26) – ARRIVAL DAY

Our photo adventure kicks off at 3PM at the hotel conference room for an orientation and motivational presentation on photography in Alaska, details of our adventure, and followed by a group dinner and/or an aurora photo shoot if the forecast looks favorable.

DAY 2 (MON MAR 27) – TRAVEL TO DELTA JUNCTION & BEYOND

We check out and head south on the Richardson Highway to Delta Junction, our home for the next 4 nights at an Alaskan roadside lodge. From here, we will continue south, exploring the Alaska Range for potential winter landscape opportunities and foregrounds for aurora.

DAY 3: (TUE MAR 28)

Today we will spend time photographing the Alaska Range and Castner ice cave. (Note: Ice caves change year by year, season by season. While one cave disappeared in late June 2022 due to warm temperatures and higher water flow, a new one will most likely form later in the 2022 season.) We will head out in the evening to photograph aurora displays.

DAY 4 (WED MAR 29)

Today we will photograph a dog mushing team in a remote Alaskan setting. In the evening, we will head out to photograph aurora displays.

DAY 5 (THU MAR 30)

We will make a decision based on weather and aurora forecast and past success whether we go shoot or relax and do a group image share and critique session. This will be our last opportunity to photograph northern lights in the Alaska Range before heading back to Fairbanks tomorrow.

DAY 6: (FRI MAR 31) TRAVEL BACK TO FAIRBANKS: END OF TOUR

Though the workshop officially ends around 3PM, we will still have the van until the next morning allowing one more night to find aurora displays if conditions are favorable.

NOTE:This night’s lodging is included in the tour cost.

We recommend that folks stay an extra day or two beyond the workshop to explore the area on your own. Many flights depart Fairbanks at night between 11pm and 6am. If you need to fly back the evening the workshop ends on a “redeye” please make sure your return ticket reads April 1 and NOT March 31 for an after 12am flight.

GETTING HERE

The official group meeting location will be at 4:00PM at Sophie’s Station (1717 University Ave S, Fairbanks, 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 Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) is a visitor-friendly airport with several daily flights. Some of the major airlines that service to Fairbanks include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • United

There is a shuttle service from the airport to the first night’s accommodations (at Sophie’s Station). They provide 24-hour airport shuttle service. Call them at 907.479.3650 when you arrive baggage claim so they can inform the driver and also guide you where to meet the shuttle. Lyft, Uber, and taxi services are also available.

Sophie’s Station is 2.9 miles away from Fairbanks International Airport.

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.

CANCELLATION POLICY:

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.

 

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