Take a course in Alaska's wildest classrooms!

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 geology and birds to mosses, mammals, and more. These are active learning vacations. Participants must be in good physical condition and ready for some of the challenges of exploring Alaska. Hiking distances and physical fitness levels are described in greater detail for each course. These courses are accredited through the University of Alaska.  Teachers: click here for more accredited courses designed just for you!

Registration will open on February 9 at noon Alaska time

Denali's Mosses and Lichens

Denali National Park and Preserve
June 10 – 12
$360 Alaska Geographic member price ($400 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 1000 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 over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrain, and will include frequent bending and stooping.  Hikes will cover distances of approximately 4 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

Writing in the Footsteps of the Muries

Denali National Park and Preserve
June 24 – 26
$400
Alaska Geographic Member Price ($360 non-member price)

One hundred years ago, in the summer of 1922, two half-brothers, Olaus and Adolph Murie, arrived in Mount McKinley National Park (today’s Denali NP) to study caribou. Over the following decades, they would revolutionize the sciences of ecology and wildlife biology, and marry half-sisters Mardy Thomas and Louise Gillete. Together the four would become pillars of the American wilderness preservation movement. Join Alaska author Kim Heacox to hike the tundra where the Muries did, and gain inspiration from their writing. Discover your own writing style and hone your skills while sharing ideas and insights with the group.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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.

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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Syllabus Journal Assignment

Family Field Retreat

Denali National Park and Preserve
July 1 – 4
Price TBA

Bring your family and spend the holiday weekend at the Teklanika Field Camp in Denali National Park. A field camp host will be available to help your family plan exploration adventures and answer any questions you may have about Denali. Family friendly activities will be provided, including a guided hike and suggestions for activities you can do on your own as a family.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be moderately strenuous over uneven forest, and river bar terrain covering distances of up to 2 miles round trip with as much as 800 feet of elevation gain. We may encounter wet forest conditions and small 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.

Our Global Climate System - a History of Change

Denali National Park and Preserve
July 8 – 10
$400
Alaska Geographic Member Price ($360 non-member price)

Although recent climate change has been attributed to human influences, the earth’s climate has exhibited high-frequency variability throughout its modern 400 million year history. The geographic site and situation of Denali National Park and Preserve provide a unique opportunity to visually interpret 120,000 years of climate change. Join Alaska Geographic educator and Retired Atmospheric Scientist David Arnold to observe first hand this history of change. By exploring evidence of these astronomical and earth driven changes, we’ll gain a better understanding of how human impacts have reached a magnitude significant enough to also impact the global climate system.

moderately strenuous iconHiking will be off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Syllabus Journal Assignment

Geology of Denali

Denali National Park and Preserve
July 11 – 13

$360 
Alaska Geographic member price ($400 non-member price)

Denali’s dramatic landscape has been sculpted and scoured by tectonics, glaciers, rivers, and landslides. Join National Park Service geologist Denny Capps for an introduction to Denali’s geology. We will spend our days hiking mountains and valleys learning how geologists study the Earth and interpret the landscape’s story. We’ll learn basic mineral and rock identification, decipher evidence of past glaciations, examine dynamic braided rivers, and visit areas affected by permafrost and landslides.

strenuous hiking iconHiking will be strenuous, covering distances up to several miles round trip and including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on steep, rough, uneven, and unstable rocks, tundra, and/or forested terrain. Depending on prevailing conditions we may encounter 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

Paleontology in Denali

Denali National Park and Preserve
July 22 – 24
$360 Alaska Geographic member price ($400 non-member price) 

It’s been over 15 years since the first evidence of dinosaurs was found in Denali National Park. Since then, thousands of tracks and plant fossils have been discovered – and even a few bones – helping to paint a picture of an extinct Cretaceous ecosystem. Join paleontologist Patrick Druckenmiller, Director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, for an inside look at his current research in Denali to better understand dinosaurs and their environment. In this field-based course, we will learn how to recognize dinosaur tracks and other fossils and test this knowledge by visiting potential new sites. We will also learn some of the paleontological tools-of-the-trade and contribute to real research on Alaskan dinosaurs.

strenuous hiking iconHiking will be strenuous, covering distances of up to 5 miles round trip including as much as 1,500 feet of elevation gain. We will be hiking off trail on steep, rough, uneven, and unstable rocks, tundra, and/or forested terrain 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

The Rhythm of Denali's Mammals

Denali National Park and Preserve
July 29 – 31
$360
Alaska Geographic member price ($400 non-member price)

The myriad of mammal species in Denali are intricately tied together through cyclic fluctuations, patterns of reproduction, and the climate and ecological extremes of this northern ecosystem. Join long time resident and naturalist Nan Eagleson to examine the landscape for animal life in Denali’s treeless tundra, boreal forest and river bars. From the charismatic megafauna to the voles, lemmings and shrews, the predator-prey relationships play out in a natural state here. On outings we will look for tracks and scats that suggest their food habits while keeping a sharp eye out for wildlife of all sorts. Climate change and its impact on the lives of northern animals, in the backdrop of this fragile ecosystem, will be part of a discussion for our vision of their future.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

Bears of Denali

Denali National Park and Preserve
August 12 – 14
$360
Alaska Geographic member price ($400 non-member price)

As the days grow shorter, grizzly bears are preparing for their long winter’s sleep. Join Denali National Park wildlife biologist Pat Owen and hear tales from her 30 years of studying bears in the park. We will spend our time investigating grizzly bear habitat while learning about this animal’s behavior, life history, and their role in the Denali ecosystem. We’ll also discuss ongoing grizzly bear research and how to stay safe in bear country.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

Wolves of Denali

Denali National Park and Preserve
August 19 – 21
$360
Alaska Geographic member price ($400 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 off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Journal Assignment

Ecology of Migratory Birds

Denali National Park and Preserve
August 26 – 28
$360
Alaska Geographic member price ($400 non-member price)

Denali National Park is near the geographic center of Alaska. Several well-documented migratory flyways for dozens of species of migratory birds transect the park north of the Alaska Range. Late summer is a busy time in this area for both resident and migratory birds. Resident birds are preparing for the long subarctic winter and migratory birds are preparing for and embarking on their amazing journeys. Join Dr. Carol McIntyre, National Park Service wildlife biologist, to search for some of the birds that live in Denali and to learn about their ecology. We’ll discuss how we study Denali’s bird species, what we are learning about them, and how we try to apply results of our studies to help conserve them.

moderately strenuous icon

Hiking will be off trail over uneven tundra, forest, and river bar terrains, 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.

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 following documents will be available in the spring.

Syllabus Journal Assignment

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations and/or substitutions that occur 14 days or more in advance of the course start date will be refunded the full course fee. Cancellations occurring within 14 days of the start date will not be refunded unless we can fill your space. If you must cancel from a course, please notify us as quickly as possible so that we may attempt to refill the spot. If Alaska Geographic must cancel a course due to the pandemic, we will provide you with several options at that time, including requesting a refund of your fee. All membership purchases are non-refundable and non-transferable.