Adult Expeditions

Adult Leadership Expedition — Alaska, Backpacking

Ages 18+  |  25 days  |  Starting at $5895
Hidden in the pristine Alaskan backcountry is a faraway adventure through the least visited National Park in the United States.
Three people backpacking in Alaska with a view of a mountain ahead of them.

Adventure First

Hidden in the pristine Alaskan backcountry is a faraway adventure through the least visited National Park in the United States. Join The National Center for Outdoor and Adventure Education (NCOAE) for a 50-mile route that is isolated, challenging, and absolutely untouched. Our 25-day Alaska expedition will give you the skills to travel in the remote, backcountry. And it’s breathtaking.

With NCOAE’s 25-day Alaska – Adult Leadership Expedition, you’ll explore remote territory on a rugged route that is distinctly Alaska. Our adventure begins and ends with Alaskan wilderness, and in the middle you’ll find Alaskan solitude. Our route takes you across remote glaciers, cold-mountain streams, high-mountain passes, and wide-open tundra. And, all of this provides the true backpacking adventure of a lifetime, with food and supplies airdropped by helicopter to remote locations.

In the wilds of Alaska, you’ll learn the skills to treat medical, environmental, and traumatic incidents in the backcountry. During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your leadership and technical wilderness skills.

During this 25-day course, you’ll find yourself exploring the heart of Wrangell-St.Elias, the least visited National Park in the United States. While traveling more than 50-miles across mountains, glaciers, and tundra, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.


  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification
  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer certification
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Backpacking
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Ice and snow gear and travel techniques

Course Details

25 days
Credit Hours
Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Please contact the NCOAE office.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental sustainability, as well as your leadership and outdoor technical skills.
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and wilderness education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire career skills to teach and travel in pristine destinations around the country — and around the world!
Academic Credits

Your work during our 25-day Alaska – Adult Leadership Expedition is eligible for up to six college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington including:

  • EVS 485 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits
  • EVS 592 — Issues in Sustainability: 6 credits
A group of people backpacking up a mountain in Alaska.


  • Gain new leadership and outdoor skills
  • Make new friends and lasting memories
  • Explore the most wild and remote region in the United States
  • Travel in the largest most remote National Forest in the country
  • Challenge yourself like never before
  • Earn college credit

On the Map

  • Wilderness of Wrangell — St. Elias National Park and Preserve — the largest unit in the U.S. National Park System
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Wrangell Mountains
  • Chugach Mountains

Talk to Us

Have any further questions about the course location, what you'll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we're here to help!



Start DateEnd DateAvailabilityRegistration
July 6, 2023July 30, 2023Waitlist



Frequently Asked Questions

Where in Alaska does this course take place?

Beginning in McCarthy, Alaska, you’ll fly to a remote base camp in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, relying solely on yourself and your fellow group members for everything.

Wrangell is the largest and least visited National Park in the United States. Spanning 13.2 million acres it’s as big as Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Switzerland combined. The park stretches from sea level to the top of one of the tallest peaks in North America — Mount St. Elias (18,008 feet).

You will be traveling and living in an area that is so remote, the only way in or out is by bush plane. Food and supplies will be airdropped at remote locations by helicopter.

How far will I be hiking/traveling?

You and your party will travel more than 50 miles across mountains, glaciers, snow-melt streams, and tundra, practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.

What wilderness skills will I develop during this adventure?

The 25-day Alaska – Adult Leadership Expedition begins by helping you develop foundational outdoor and adventure education skills. You will learn wilderness medical skills and receive your Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification. You’ll also gain hands-on experience in expedition planning, logistics, backpacking, backcountry cooking and food planning, remote wilderness camp craft, ice and snow travel techniques, environmental and civic responsibility, backcountry navigation, wilderness risk management, Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics, leadership and communication styles, as well as decision-making and teamwork. You will return home confident in your ability to travel in the backcountry using your newfound skills.

What level of experience do I need to take this course?

No prerequisites are required. Throughout the course, you will acquire the knowledge and skills required to complete the course and to teach others how to navigate and thrive in the wilderness and in life in general.

What do I need to do to physically prepare for this course?

You do not need to be an “Ironman” to participate in this course. That said, you will be required to carry your own pack, with your own gear and some group gear. Your pack will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds at any given time. You will be hiking over rugged terrain, crossing rivers and glaciers, making high altitude ascents, and negotiating deep valleys and steep ridges.

Will we be traveling in bear country?

Yes, Wrangell – St. Elias is home to all three species of North American bears. The Wrangell is land of harsh landscapes in which bears like to travel looking for food. Statistically, it’s unlikely that you will encounter a bear in this 13.2 million-acre park, but it’s possible.

That said, NCOAE follows recommended best practices to mitigate the risks associated with bear encounters. You will learn and practice these risk management techniques as part of the course.

What is the average group size and instructor/student ratio?

Each group has two or three instructors and eight to 12 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.

What are the average ages of students?

The average age range for this course is 18-23 years old.

Do I need to buy any special equipment or clothes for the course?

Yes. NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE pack list for this course.

Is financial aid available for this course?

At this time, we do not offer financial aid. However, if you are a college student you may be able to use your existing federal financial aid to help pay for your course, and you may receive college credits through a consortium agreement with NCOAE. If you are attending a college or university as part of a degree granting program, your advisor can determine whether your school will accept and transfer academic credits for participating in NCOAE courses from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. If it does, consult your financial aid office to determine if, how, and which funds may be used toward your NCOAE course costs. For more information on the consortium agreement process, contact


How do I book my flight?

All travel during the course is included. Upon enrolling in an NCOAE program, you are responsible for securing your flight to and from Anchorage, Alaska (Airport Code: ANC). You can do so by either, calling our trusted travel agent partner, Fly My Group, or another outside source if you choose to do so. All flights must arrive on day one (1) of your course between hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm at ANC airport where you will connect with an NCOAE staff member and the rest of your group.

Fly My Group:
Phone: (866) 374-5043

Are adult leadership expeditions offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer Adult Leadership Expeditions in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina , Patagonia, and Ecuador at various times of the year.

An instructor showing a student a map.

Participating in an NCOAE course has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!
It helped me to grow emotionally and taught me skills that I am able to transfer into my everyday life. I am truly grateful and lucky to have been a part of this program

Aaron Marshall, NC Teen Adventure Graduate