Prepare yourself for Alaska, the Land of the Midnight Sun – a place where glaciers crackle in mysterious fjords; bears, wolves, and bald eagles animate miles of majestic forest; and whales, porpoises, otters, and sea lions grace an astonishing seascape.
Our epic 26-day teen summer adventure program hikes through the untouched Denali State Park, sea kayaks the majestic Prince William Sound, whitewater rafts the Matanuska River, and ice and snow mountaineers on Matanuska Glacier.
Click on Description to learn about our teen summer adventure program in Alaska. It is truly a program that takes a step beyond traditional summer camp and supports students to realize their untapped potential.
Alaska // You Don't Want to Miss...
#1 Watch A Tidewater Glacier Crash Into The Ocean
If you ever need to be reminded of the power of Mother Nature, there is nothing better than watching ice shear off a glacier and explode into the ocean below.
#2 Denali State Park and Preserve
Denali is more than a mountain. With six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road, the low-elevation taiga forest gives way to high alpine tundra and snow-capped mountains that culminate in North America's tallest peak, Mount McKinley.
#3 Matanuska River Rafting
The Matanuska River pours forth from the massive Matanuska Glacier in a swift torrent of Class II to Class IV whitewater for 70 miles before it meets the sea. A fast and thrilling ride, the river flows through big holes and waves down between rock walls surrounded by glaciers.
#4 Wildlife Pure and Simple
The Alaskan wilderness is one of the last traces of thriving populations of wildlife where you can you see polar bears, bald eagles, blue and humpbacked whales, gray wolves, grizzly bears, orcas, lynx, moose, and hundreds of other rare and endangered species in their original and undisturbed natural habitats.
#5 Prince William Sound
The sound contains 150 glaciers, 17 of them tidewater glaciers, that are especially known for dramatically calving huge ice blocks into the sea.
#6 Ice and Snow Mountaineering: Matanuska Glacier
The density of the glacier causes spectacular blue ice. The entire spectrum of light is being absorbed, all except for the glacier blue light, which is reflected and can actually be seen by the naked eye.
#7 Talkeetna Mountains
A stretch of long-extinct coastal volcanoes that have pushed inland through millions of years of geologic activity contain glaciated summits over 8,000-feet in height, abundant wildlife, and numerous wild and free flowing rivers.
#8 Chugach National Forest, Decision Point State Marine Park
Aptly named, this is where one stands on a pebble and sand beach and decides whether to head out into the larger expanse of water of Port Wells...
#9 Alpenglow At Midnight
People say that the Midnight Sun re-awakens them to the magic of life. The views are inspiring, especially the rosy band of Alpenglow that is visible around the mountains.
#10 Whales Shattering the Surface
It's specially stirring to see a whale come up from deep in the ocean, far below the surface, and throw their tons of mass into the air in an effortless and magical display.
For a first time visitor to Alaska, experiencing the Land of the Midnight Sun could, in and of itself, be the highlight of the adventure. We have much more in store in this land of greatness.
Arriving into Anchorage, we make our way along the Seward Highway as it hugs the dramatic shorelines of Turnagain Arm. Arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in America, Chugach State Park's 3000-foot mountains jut up on our left while we are greeted with the second highest tides in the world on the Cook Inlet. We settle into our first campsite in time for an evening orientation and prepare for our first adventure - Denali State Park.
Situated between the Talkeetna Mountains to the east and the Alaska Range to the west, our landscape varies from meandering lowland streams to alpine tundra. Moose, black and grizzly bears, wolves, and fleets of seabirds bring the seas and skies to life.
Dominating this diverse terrain is Kesugi Ridge, an alpine ridge that affords some of the best views of Mt. McKinley in the state. Here we find gently rolling tundra at the top of the ridges much more conducive to trekking. Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America, doesn't lie in the park itself, but the best views of it do! For four days, we follow the ridge backpacking past alpine lakes and through dense forests. We focus on the basics of loading a pack, pressure breathing, river crossings, selecting backcountry campsites and Leave No Trace ethics.
The next day we move on to Whittier and load our gear into tandem sea kayaks on the glacial waters of Prince William Sound. Paddling off towards Blackstone Bay, we weave in and out of floating impressive bergs, and are overwhelmed with the remarkable tidewater and calving glaciers.
Surrounded by Chugach National Forest, Decision Point is our first destination. With 15,000-square miles of countless bays and islands, lush rainforest, towering mountains, spectacular glaciers, and over 2,500 miles of rugged coast, this is the ideal place to explore by sea kayak.
Camped on a small beach, we behold the magnificent Lawrence, Blackstone, and Beloit Glaciers. Paddling through bobbing icebergs, the overwhelming beauty of Blackstone Bay builds with each stroke. Sheer rock walls echo cracks of thunder as glaciers cave into the Sound. Like Eskimo kayakers before us, we silently approach harbor seals resting on ice floes and witness 500-foot waterfalls cascading down the icy cliffs.
After exploring the Sound, we’re off to the Matanuska Glacier, where we spend three days enveloped in the intricacies of ice and snow mountaineering. By the light of the midnight sun, we hone the skills needed to negotiate the glacier: ice climbing, crampon techniques, self-arrest, crevasse rescue and glacial navigation. At 27 miles long by 4 miles wide, it 's a good place to examine glacier-borne rocks and to peer down into crevices and imagine the decades and physical forces that went into the glacier's creation, now slowly disappearing.
An unusual feature of the glacier is the presence of a "weather hole," making the climate unusually sunny and clear. Perhaps part of the attraction of this glacier is being present as this cold creature, born in the Chugach Mountains, visibly dissolves into a new form: the Matanuska River, running full-bore to the sea.
We take to the waters and for two days we paddle the fast stretch of glacial whitewater grey brimming with silt and boulders that make the ride that much wilder as it gets squeezed between rock and ice. The mid-summer glacial melt and the higher water of the evening combine to bathe the magnificent peaks of the Chugach Range in the soft hues of the Midnight Sun.
The next day we mobilize for our final adventure in Alaska: a five-day hike through the remote Talkeetna Mountains. With a wealth of pointy summits, soaring passes and endless humbling glaciers, the Talkeetnas provide the perfect finale to our time in Alaska. Focusing on route-finding and navigation, this hike affords us numerous opportunities to enjoy the solitude of the Alaskan bush.
We end our journey where it began in Anchorage with a hearty feast and conclude our long days of summer, among the wildflower alpine slopes and glacier-fed turquoise lakes, as watch the midnight sun skimming along the horizon for one last night.
Arrival Day (Day 1):
Meet the group in Anchorage and transfer to campground. Settle in.
Warm Up (Day 2):
Orientation. Get your muscles warmed up with a day hike to Eklutna Lake.
Backpacking (Days 3-7):
Transfer to Kesugi Ridge (Denali State Park) and begin backpacking adventure.
R&R (Day 8):
Rest up and clean up (laundry, showers, etc.)
Mountaineering (Days 9-11):
Brave the icy facade of Matanuska Glacier.
Sea Kayaking (Days 12-16):
Explore Prince William Sound by boat, and discover a world of watery wonders.
R&R (Day 17):
Rest your sore muscles and catch up on some much deserved sleep.
Backpacking (Day 18-22):
Strap on those packs one more time and take on the Talkeetna Range.
Whitewater Rafting (Days 23-24):
Rip down the Matanuska River and hold on to your helmets! It's gonna be a wild ride!
Final Banquet and Homeward Bound (Days 25-26):
Close with RLT's famous and traditional final banquet, and say goodbye to the adventure of a lifetime.