Alaska Private Photo Tours Trip Ideas

Photograph icebergs from lake shore © Michael DeYoung

Mile for mile, Alaska has the most photographable, high-quality landscapes right from the highways than anyplace else.

However, Alaska doesn’t have a lot of highways relative to the state’s size and we lack the endless network of secondary roads found in the Western Continental United States. There is a lot of GREAT stuff to see and photograph away from the highway system. Access to such places is by boat, bush plane, or helicopter. Many off-highway photo locations are close enough to cities and towns that they can be done as day trips. Landscape and some wildlife photography in remote areas isn’t necessarily better than what you can photograph from highways, just different and more unique. Most clients who travel this far want to do more than just photograph from the highway, but it does add to the total cost.

Things you can photograph from remote areas that you can’t from highways:

LANDSCAPES

  • Tidewater glaciers and calving
  • Glacier features like caves and deep blue pools (varies dependent on glacier and season)
  • Ridges above glaciers with broad sweeping views
  • Icebergs in bays and lakes
  • WILDLIFE

  • Safe and predictable brown/grizzly bear photography (almost exclusively done at remote lodges and beaches via bush plane)
  • Big marine wildlife: whales (humpback, orca, porpoises), sea lions, harbor seals on icebergs.
  • Puffins and other sea birds
  • Things you can photograph from highways and short hikes:

    LANDSCAPES

  • Endless mountain landscapes with forests, bays, lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands for foregrounds
  • Waterfalls and flowing water
  • Wildflowers (in season)
  • Some glacier faces
  • Fall colors
  • Aurora borealis (late-August to late-April)
  • WILDLIFE

    Somewhat reliable and photographable with normal telephoto lenses and ethical practices. Wildlife photography is always unpredictable and are not always present at places we normally go.

  • Moose
  • Dall sheep
  • Waterfowl: trumpeter swans, ducks, sometimes loons
  • Sea otters/harbor seals that hang around boat harbors and allow close approach.
  • Below are several tour options. These are merely suggestions and not packages. You can, if desired, go with what the suggested tour describes, or you can modify and add to them to suit your photographic preferences.

    3-DAY BEST OF ALASKA HIGHWAYS TOUR

    LANDSCAPES FROM THE SEWARD, GLENN, & PARKS HIGHWAYS

    View of Alaska's tallest mountain, Denali, with fall colors along Chulitna River from a private Alaska Photo Tour © Michael DeYoung

    This tour explores the best road-side accessible landscapes of Southcentral Alaska’s Highways: The Seward, Glenn, and Parks.

    EVENING PRIOR: Meet in the evening for a 1-2 hour presentation and dinner. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 1: Explore the Glenn Highway photographing the rugged and big peaks of the Chugach. Overnight in Palmer.

    DAY 2: If the weather is favorable and shots of Denali is on your list, then we head up real early up the Parks Highway to capture the best light on Denali’s south side at sunrise and continue to see other views in the northern Susitna Valley. Overnight back at Palmer or at a remote lodge north of Talkeetna during aurora season.

    DAY 3: Explore the Seward Highway south of Anchorage along Turnagain Arm, a very photogenic fjord with extreme tidal fluctuations. Return to Anchorage at end of day. Depending on weather and time we may push further onto the Kenai Peninsula for more landscape images.

    ESTIMATED COST FOR THIS 3-DAY/3-NIGHT BEST OF ALASKA HIGHWAYS PHOTO TOUR: $6,050 – $6,900 Final cost may vary based on various seasonal accommodation rates and lodging availability. Price includes our guide fee, ground transportation in our private van, and 3 nights accommodations for 1-2 people sharing a room.

    3-DAY HIGHWAY & GLACIER TOUR COMBO

    MOUNTAIN, GLACIER, & LAKE LANDSCAPES

    Photographing unique Alaska glacier landscapes. © Michael DeYoung

    This tour explores highway landscapes along the coastal Turnagain Arm and the Seward Highway along with the spectacular north slopes of the Chugach – big, rugged mountains seen from the Glenn Highway with a helicopter glacier tour. Weather permitting, we fly with doors off for aerials of the glacier and make 1 or 2 landings where no technical gear (other than basic traction devices) is required.

    EVENING PRIOR: Meet in the evening for a 1-2 hour presentation and dinner. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 1: Explore the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Peninsula. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 2: Explore the Glenn Highway with a remote glacier shoot via helicopter access. Overnight at remote lodge or Palmer.

    DAY 3: Travel back to Anchorage with exploration of Hatcher Pass with wildflowers or fall colors, streams, and mountains.

    ESTIMATED COST FOR THIS 3-DAY/3-NIGHT HIGHWAY & GLACIER PHOTO TOUR: $7,750 – $8,500 Final cost may vary based on various seasonal accommodation rates and lodging availability. Price includes our guide fee, ground transportation in our private van, chartered helicopter flight with 1-2 landings in a remote area of a glacier, and 3 nights accommodations for 1-2 people sharing a room.

    4-DAY ULTIMATE WILDERNESS TOUR

    GLACIERS, BEARS, & MARINE WILDLIFE

    Alaska coastal brown bear (grizzly) in field of lupine - Lake Clark National Park © Michael DeYoung

    Experience genuine Alaskan wilderness photography by private charter boat, helicopter and bush plane to day bear viewing and photography in Lake Clark National Park. This no expense spared photo adventure maximizes our time in the best of Southcentral Alaska’s breathtaking backcountry in comfort and style. In addition to bears and huge bull moose you will see and photograph large sweeping glaciers not only from the air but on ridges above and on the glacier itself. Weather permitting you will also see some of the highest coastal mountains on earth with peaks rising from sea-level to 9,000’ – with more prominence than the Grand Canyon.

    EVENING PRIOR: Meet in the evening for a 1-2 hour presentation and dinner. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 1: Float plane trip to day bear viewing (location varies with season. Mostly August/September) to a remote lodge in Lake Clark National Park. Return in late afternoon and continue with local area landscapes. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 2: All day private boat charter in Prince William Sound where we photograph spectacular mountain scenery, tide water glaciers and possible calving. If tide is favorable, we make a beach landing and photograph icebergs with spectacular glacier backgrounds. We almost always see sea otters, puffins and Stellar sea lions and other marine mammals to photograph. Return and overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 3: Get an early start and go on a robust hike in search of regal bull moose in nearby parks. (Mostly mid-August to late September) then drive up the Glenn Highway photographing some of the best mountain landscapes in Alaska. In the evening spend several hours photographing glacier aerials via helicopter, with 2 possible landings on or above the glacier for truly unique Alaskan scenery not viewable from the highway. Overnight at remote lodge.

    DAY 4: After a local area sunrise, we return to Anchorage stopping in Palmer to do another Helicopter tour to a remote glacier lake with icebergs – a truly unique Alaska photo opportuntity, especially with wildflowers or fall colors.

    ESTIMATED COST FOR THIS 4-DAY/4-NIGHT ULTIMATE WILDERNESS PHOTO TOUR: $17,885 – $21,250 Final cost may vary based on various seasonal accommodation rates and lodging availability. Price includes our guide fee, ground transportation in our private van, chartered bush plane for remote bear viewing, private boat charter for marine wildlife photography, 2 chartered helicopter flights, and 4 nights accommodations for 1-2 people sharing a room. Some meals are included in this itinerary.

    3-DAY WINTER HIGHWAY & GLACIER TOUR

    Northern Lights over snow covered Alaska landscape © Michael DeYoung

    Winter in Alaska is marvelous! Sure, there are many places in the Lower-48 that have winter, mountains, and snow. Why visit Alaska in winter? There are several things that really make an Alaska winter tour unique over locations further south. First, glaciers and glacier features that are not possible to see in summer are more accessible in winter because they are frozen. Many locations are easily accessible by helicopter and can be explored and photographed with simple traction devices. Secondly, northern lights or aurora borealis over the winter landscape become more frequent toward the Spring Equinox. The best months for a winter photo tour are February and March. It’s still plenty cold, the snow is still deep, but the days are getting longer. Around Anchorage, daylight increases at the rate of 6 minutes a day (3-hours a month) this time of year. There is a greater chance of clearer days than other winter months. Aurora displays peak near the equinox, March 20. There’s also a cool vibe with the Iditarod, dog sledding in general and a great feeling the strengthening sun brings to the far north.

    This tour mixes both the best of highway landscapes and some non-technical backcountry glacier exploration via helicopter not to mention the potential to capture aurora displays. Any night could have the potential for aurora displays and there are several places to go depending upon weather.

    EVENING PRIOR: Meet in the evening for a 1-2 hour presentation and dinner. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 1: Capture sunrise and coastal winter landscapes along the Seward Highway. Especially in March, one can find open water in the winter landscape which usually results in magical images. Overnight in Anchorage.

    DAY 2: We travel north of Anchorage to the spectacular Glenn Highway and the northern slopes of the Chugach Mountains which are some of the most dramatic mountains seen from the Alaska road system. Remote glacier exploration via helicopter in the afternoon. Overnight in Palmer area.

    DAY 3: We head north to capture morning light on Denali or explore the Talkeetna Mountains and deep snow in Hatcher Pass. Return to Anchorage.

    Other options for winter tours: 1. Prince William Sound Depending upon availability, a private boat tour in fair weather brings us to some of the most striking landscapes in Southcentral Alaska with deep blue marine waters in a winter landscape. 2. Guided glacier adventure We team up with local guides where you can reach more remote and unique glacier features with technical gear and guidance provided by the outfitter.

    ESTIMATED COST FOR THIS 3-DAY/3-NIGHT WINTER HIGHWAY & GLACIER PHOTO TOUR: $6,906 – $8,779 Final cost may vary based on various seasonal accommodation rates and lodging availability. Price includes our guide fee, ground transportation in our private van, and 3 nights accommodations for 1-2 people sharing a room.

    DeYoung Photo Workshops, LLC