The Landscapes and Wildlife of Northern Montana
August 31 - September 7, 2023
Starts and Ends in Kalispell, Montana
This workshop is limited to 6 participants.
About the Trip
Get ready for an experience of a lifetime! The Brooks Range and Wildlife of Alaska's North Slope is an itinerary set for the adventurous.
The Brooks Range is one of the largest uninhabited regions in Alaska and is the furthest north extent of the Rocky Mountains. This 126 million-year-old mountain range lies above the Artic Circle and extends 700 miles from east to west. While we won't see all of the range, we'll still get great views of this breathtaking wilderness.
We'll be on the periphery where the greatest mammal migrations occur annually. Here, vast herds of caribou and muskox range. Each year, hundreds of thousands of caribou migrate from their summer range to their winter haunts. In addition to the big mammals on Alaska's North Slope, ptarmigan, arctic fox, Dall sheep, and the occasional wolf or grizzly bear is also possible.
Since summer is passed by the first of September, fall colors should be in full swing. With the length of the nights roughly the same as the length of the day, aurora viewing ought to be getting good. Add to the whole itinerary a trip to the Arctic Ocean, a plane ride to the Gates of the Arctic National Park, and plenty of good photography and fellowship, this trip is a "can't miss."
The Brooks Range and Wildlife of Alaska's North Slope trip is truly one that will take us to the end of the road and into some of North America's most wild places. Since it is a vehicle-based excursion, there'll be minimal hiking. In addition, since we'll be off the beaten path, every room is double occupancy.
Ready for an adventure? Read on for the full itinerary.
We'll meet on the first evening at 5pm at our headquarters hotel in Fairbanks. You'll get an overview of the trip at the orientation meeting and meet your fellow travelers! After this brief orientation, we'll head to supper. Then if the conditions allow, we'll go out and hunt for the aurora borealis.
On day one, we'll head north, searching for incredible scenery and wildlife. Our journey will take us along the fabled Haul Road you've undoubtedly seen on shows like Ice Road Truckers. Along the way to our destination in Coldfoot, Alaska, we'll see notable sites such as the Yukon River, Finger Mountain, and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, we'll be looking for moose, caribou, and other species of Alaskan wildlife.
After our travels, we'll check into our lodging in Coldfoot before heading out for another adventure.
We'll head out at night to look for the Northern Lights if conditions are ripe. Above the Arctic Circle, you'll have a unique opportunity to photograph the heart of the auroral circle. Instead of the aurora being on the horizon, it will often be straight overhead.
Day two finds us traveling north from Coldfoot deeper down the Haul Road. We'll head to Atigun Pass and the Brooks Range, where we'll photograph one of Alaska's most majestic mountain ranges. It's a long day out, so we'll eat lunch in the field while we look for caribou, musk ox, and arctic fox. At the day's end, we'll travel back to Coldfoot for supper and another shot at the aurora borealis.
Come day three, we're back on the Haul Road, headed deeper into the Arctic landscapes. We'll head back into the Brooks Range and across Alaska's North Slope. It's a long drive to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean, so we'll travel all day. However, we'll have plenty of wildlife and landscape opportunities to photograph along the way.
On day four, we'll load a specially chartered bus where we'll genuinely go to the end of the road. Only accessible by permit, we'll see the Arctic Ocean where you can photograph this seldom-seen body of water and dip your toes into the sea. While we are still 1,300 miles from the North Pole, this may be the closest any of us ever get!
For the rest of the day, we'll explore the area, retreat to the hotel for photography instruction, and enjoy a seldom-seen part of Alaska. That night, if the weather allows, we'll head outside to see another site seldom seen by us in the lower 48 - the North Star nearly directly overhead.
On day five, we'll backtrack to Coldfoot in search of wildlife and other landscape opportunities. We'll be looking for muskox and one of Alaska's largest carbon herds along the way. On day three, it's a long drive across the North Slope. Still, adventurous travelers will appreciate us taking the road less traveled.
While this trip is long and we've covered some miles, the adventure isn't over yet. Today we'll take charter flights over to the Gates of the Arctic National Park and explore one of the nation's lesser-known and least-visited national parks.
After a half day of flying, we'll head over and check out the old mining camp called Wiseman. Wiseman is the true old Alaska and we'll explore it in earnest.
As always, if the weather permits, we'll head out at night to photograph the Northern Lights.
We've had a busy week! On the last day of the trip, we'll make a slow launch from Coldfoot on our way back to Fairbanks. While our itinerary is loose on this day, we'll still be looking for stunning scenery and truly wild, wildlife. We should be back in Fairbanks around 3 to 4 pm.
*Topics and schedules are subject to change.
Recommended Gear List
Digital Mirrorless or DSLR Camera
Wide angle lens (i.e. 16-35mm)
Short telephoto (24-105mm)
Medium telephoto (70-200mm)
Large telephoto (400mm and above)
Waterproof cover for your camera
The temperature in Coldfoot, Alaska ranges from a low of around 35 degrees Fahrenheit to the mid-50s around the first week of September. In Prudhoe Bay, it ranges from 35-42 degrees Fahrenheit. The skies vary from clear half the time to overcast and light rain the rest. As such, I recommend dressing in layers to comfort. Those layers should include:
Wool or synthetic material socks that insulate when wet
Photography shooting gloves or mittens
Wool or synthetic material shirt that insulates when wet
Wool or synthetic material pants that insulate when wet
Rain jacket (if your top jacket isn't waterproof)
Sturdy, waterproof hunting-type boots
What else is included?
Lodging during the duration of the workshop
Meals during the workshop
Hands-on photography instruction
Transportation during the workshop
Gratuities for waitstaff and service providers
What's not included?
Transportation to and from Fairbanks, Alaska headquarters hotel
Personal snacks and refreshments
For whom is this trip designed?
Anyone with a love for nature photography! While it's best if you have some working knowledge of your camera and its settings, you definitely don't have to be a seasoned expert with your camera. Since it is a vehicle-based excursion, there'll be minimal hiking.
As such, all skill levels are welcome.
Please feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To reserve a spot for this academy, a 50% deposit of the total cost is required by January 1, 2023. If booking within 30 days of the start of the academy, the total cost of the trip is required in order to make a reservation.
For payments, we accept Credit Card, Paypal, and Venmo.
If final payments are not received within 30 days of the start of the academy, we are allowed to consider your reservation canceled and can offer that spot to someone else.
If you do cancel, we require written notice in which cancellation fees in the following amounts
If canceled within 31 days or more prior to the start of the academy, the total cost of the deposit plus a $50 per person administrative fee.
If canceled within 30 days prior to departure - the total cost of the trip fee
No partial refunds will be made for any reason for parts of the academy that are not used by the client, itinerary changes, or any unforeseen circumstances.
Hackberry Farm reserves the right to cancel a trip for any cause and is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred during the trip, such as medical expenses, clothing, equipment of any kind, etc.