Adult Expeditions

Adult Leadership Expedition — Alaska, Backpacking

Ages 18+  |  14 days  |  Starting at $3895
Discover Alaska's remote, technical terrain, as you backpack through rugged wilderness on a 14-day adventure.
Overview

Adventure First

At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure, while learning the technical skills to travel & explore remote destinations!

With NCOAE’s Alaska Backpacking course, 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. During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your technical wilderness skills, backcountry navigation and leadership skills.

During this 14-Day Alaska Backpacking Course, you’ll find yourself exploring the heart of the least visited National Park in the United States.

EDUCATION ALWAYS

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Remote Backpacking
  • Wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning

Course Details

Ages
18+
Length
14 days
Tuition
$3895
Credit Hours
3
Fly-In/Fly-Out
Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Please contact the NCOAE office.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Develop essential wilderness knowledge & skill  — while living and learning in Alaska’s wild, beautiful places
  • Immerse yourself in a wonderland of dense boreal forest, cool mountain streams, and stunning glacial formations.
  • Acquire the skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!
Academic Credits

Your work during the 14-day Alaska course may eligible for up to three college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

If you are interested in earning additional academic credit for a course, learn more about our 25-Day Expeditions and Gap Semester courses which may be eligible for up to six college-level credits

A group of people backpacking in Alaska.
Itinerary

Highlights

  • 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
Location

On the Map

  • Chucagh National Forest
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
  • Anchorage, AK

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!

Dates

DATES

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FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

Where in Alaska does this course take place?

Beginning in Anchorage, Alaska, you’ll travel to the Chucagh National Forest & Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

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).

How far will I be hiking?

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 14-day Alaska Backpacking course begins by helping you develop foundational outdoor and adventure education skills. You will learn wilderness medical skills and gain hands-on experience in expedition planning, logistics, backpacking, backcountry cooking and food planning, remote wilderness camp craft, 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 and explore remote places around the world!

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.

Who should take this course?

This course is best suited to those who want to challenge themselves in Alaska’s remote, rugged conditions.

How different are is the 14-day course, compared to 25-day or Semester courses?

If you’re looking for a longer course with more time for additional exploration and adventure, we suggest you consider joining us for a Gap Semester course. You’ll go even more in-depth, combining the highlights of local topography, geography, and culture with our exceptional Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course.

These courses allow for a wide variety of activities against the backdrop of lush greenery, winding rivers, and some of the oldest mountains in the world! Explore the mountains to the sea, while earning the top certifications required in the outdoor industry, including Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification and Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer certifications.

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 minimum and average ages of students on the 14-day Alaska – Backpacking course?

The minimum age for this course is 18 years, and the average age is about 30 years. Typically, participants range in age from 25 to 34 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.

Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for in Alaska?

Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

What kind of food will I be eating?

Since we will be carrying all of our food on our backs, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.

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.

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14 Day ADULT LEADERSHIP EXPEDITION

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