Dalton June

Trip Dates  June 14-20, 2017

Photo Tour Fees: 

  • Deposit (paid): 50% due to reserve a space on the photo tour
  • $3800 / person. Fee includes a full week of in-field guiding, instruction, transportation and gas from Fairbanks, as well as complete scheduling and booking of lodging, etc.

From: Fairbanks, Alaska

Leader: Matthew Studebaker

Target Group Size: JUST your family!

 

Driving the gravel James Dalton highway through the center of the Alaskan wilderness is one of America’s great motoring adventures. The scenery is magnificent, from the spectacular peaks of the Brooks Range to the board sweep of tundra blanketing the coastal plain. The 30-mile stretch between Atigun Pass and Galbraith Lake is one of the finest viewing areas in Alaska for Dall sheep. Galbraith is a lambing area and Atigun is a rearing area for lambs. Motorists may see muskoxen, arctic foxes, and caribou throughout most of the year. In June, when grasses and lichen poke through roadside rinds of half-melted snow, concentrations of a wonderful variety of arctic breeding birds crowd the tundra and forests along the road. In some ways, this is the best of both my Nome and Barrow trips. 

Our trip will begin in Fairbanks, Alaska. From here we will start exploring the northern boreal forest in search of many beautiful songbirds such as the Blackpoll Warbler as well as Northern Hawk Owls and mountain scenery. Next we will head north crossing the arctic circle to the edge of the treeline where we stay in a beautiful bed and breakfast located at the edge of the Brooks Range Mountains. Proceeding further north, our group will cross the Brooks Range with Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the right side of the road, Gates of the Arctic National Park on the left. In the mountain pass itself we should be able to find Dall Sheep, Caribou, Willow Ptarmigan, and Gyr Falcons, Smith's Longspurs, Golden Plovers, and more. The Brooks Range mountains themselves have a stunning and stark beauty. As the taper off, we enter the North Slope, where endless tundra provides habitat for Red-throated Loons, Wagtails, Bluethroats, Lapland Longspurs, and a variety of shorebirds on breeding territory. and Arctic Fox, large Caribou Herds, and Musk Ox. With luck, we may even have chances at more rare birds such as Spectacled Eider or Yellow-billed Loon. The number and diversity of bird species able to be seen and photographed on this trip is by far the largest and longest of any trip I offer. 

 

 

Schedule

June 14 - day 1 - Family to arrive in Fairbanks at 12:14am. Start late morning in Fairbanks, AK. Drive 270 miles North to Wiseman. Stay at Boreal Lodge, Wiseman, AK

June 15 - day 2 - Explore the area around the Brooks Range. Drive only as far as we like to explore the area. One cabin with Arctic Getaway B and B in Wiseman, AK

June 16 - day 3 - Drive 235 miles North to Prudhoe Bay. Stay at Deadhorse Camp Hotel 

June 17 - day 4 - Drive 235 miles south to Wiseman and stay again at the Boreal Lodge

June 18 - day 5 - Drive 270 south to Fairbanks.

June 19 - day 6 -  Drive 275 miles South to Talkeetna - Glacier landing www.talkeetnaair.com/flights/summit-w-glacier-landing hotel

June 20 - day 7 - Drive 237 miles South to Seward. Seward Glacier Day Cruise http://www.kenaifjords.com/day-cruises/northwestern-fjord-tour. Drive two hours north this evening to Anchorage and stay near the airport

June 21 - fly out of Anchorage International Airport at 8:15am

 

Equipment: I recommend bringing a digital SLR with matching lens. On this photo tour, we will want a wide variety of lenses. A long lens will be useful for birds that keep their distance or for frame-filling portraits. Landscapes may be quite appealing in some areas, so bring a wide angle as well. Bring a tripod, and binoculars if desired.

Likely Species on the trip. Not all species will be photographable, but most will be present on any given trip, with a generous assortment posing for photos for the group.

Mammals:

  • Grizzly Bear
  • Caribou
  • Moose
  • Musk Ox
  • Red Fox
  • Arctic Fox
  • Dall Sheep

Birds:

  • Spruce Grouse
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse
  • Willow Ptarmigan
  • Rock Ptarmigan
  • Northern Hawk Owl
  • Tundra Swan 
  • American Wigeon
  • Northern Pintail 
  • Green-winged Teal 
  • Northern Pintail
  • Bufflehead
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Greater Scaup 
  • Harlequin Duck 
  • Long-tailed Duck 
  • Spectacled Eider
  • Red-breasted Merganser 
  • Red-throated Loon
  • Pacific Loon
  • Red-necked Grebe 
  • Horned Grebe
  • Black-bellied Plover 
  • American Golden-Plover 
  • Pacific Golden-Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover 
  • Wandering Tattler 
  • Whimbrel 
  • Wilson's Snipe
  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Ruddy Turnstone 
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper 
  • Western Sandpiper 
  • Rock Sandpiper
  • Surfbird
  • Red Knot
  • Red-necked Phalarope
  • Red Phalarope 
  • Mew Gull 
  • Glaucous Gull 
  • Aleutian Tern
  • Arctic Tern 
  • Parasitic Jaeger 
  • Long-tailed Jaeger
  • Short-eared Owl 
  • Northern Shrike
  • Common Raven
  • Horned Lark 
  • Cliff Swallow 
  • Arctic Warbler 
  • Bluethroat 
  • Northern Wheatear 
  • Gray-cheeked Thrush
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • American Pipit 
  • Orange-crowned Warbler 
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Wilson's Warbler 
  • American Tree Sparrow 
  • Savannah Sparrow 
  • Fox Sparrow 
  • White-crowned Sparrow 
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow 
  • Lapland Longspur 
  • Smith's Longspur
  • Snow Bunting 
  • Rusty Blackbird 
  • Common Redpoll
  • Hoary Redpoll 

 

What to pack

· Boots: Warm winter boots and comfortable warm socks.
· Jacket: You will want a coat. Be prepared for temperatures in the lower 30's to the mid 60's. 
· Hat and Gloves: I recommend wearing a ski mask to keep your face warm if it is especially windy on the tundra. A warm hood could be nice as well. Wear the warmest gloves possible but make sure you can still operate your camera gear with your gloves on. Hat and gloves won't be needed most of the time, but I like everyone to have them just in case.
· Camera Gear. Bring your longest lens. That's the only lens that is really necessary, but a landscape lens could be fun for a brief roadside panorama.

Cell Phones and Internet: We will have fast wifi in Fairbanks, but no internet in the Brooks Range apart from 5 minutes worth of texting at breakfast. It's possible we may have brief wifi and reception on the arctic coast as well, but we can't necessarily rely on this. 

Weather and Schedule:
North of the Arctic Circle, the sun will never set. The best light for photography will tend to last between 6am to 10am, and again 6pm to 10pm. YOUR group will be the boss on this trip, so if you want to sleep in or rest, we will do just that!

Transportation: There will be a lot of driving during this trip in order to gain access to a variety of habitats. I will rent a vehicle for the group. Most of the photography will be done right near the road. 

Hotel:  More information to be provided about where to stay upon signing up for the trip. Fairbanks hotel costs are not included in the photo tour fee. 

Unpleasantries: As with anywhere in Alaska, some days we'll need bug spray. The road can be bumpy or dusty at times. 
 

Learning / Slideshows: 
On the first day, and during a couple mid-day breaks I will go over some tips, composition, and post processing ideas. Along with a few brief slideshows and discussions, I will try to talk about my photographic vision for each situation and spout off my camera settings in the field as well as peek over everyone's shoulder from time to time to check histograms and exposures. Aside from that, I'll need YOU to tell me if you have additional questions, learning objectives, or concerns. I'm happy to help as much as you wish and the group is small so I can give each of you as much attention or as little as you want when it comes to using the camera gear. 

My job is to know the area, do many hours of research, know and be able to ID the animals instantly and understand their habitat and behaviors, drive you to the most productive areas at the right time of day, be prepared to attract the animals or assist the group in stalking them, advise on how to make the most of each photo opp, ensure that everyone has their physical needs met, and ensure that everyone gets the most and highest quality images in the time we have.

Your job is to communicate your needs and have fun. I want to emphasize that each of you please communicate and keep me aware of your needs.

Physical Requirements:
Almost all the photography on this trip will be done right from a boat or from the road next to our vehicle. 
 

To sign up for the Photo Tour, please add the deposit to your cart at the top of this page. E-mail me with any questions at matthewstudebaker@gmail.com