Alaska | Backpacking | Teen Adventure

Discover the remote, technical terrain of Alaska’s soaring peaks, as you trek across rugged wilderness on a 14-day backpacking adventure for teens..

Questions? Call NCOAE Support (910) 399-8090


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!

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14 days


Course Information

Adventure First

Alaska is synonymous with adventure.

With NCOAE’s Alaska Backpacking 14-day adventure course for teens ages 14-18, 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 adventure of a lifetime!

During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your technical wilderness skills, including glacier travel technique, backcountry navigation, hazard assessment, and personal skill development. You may even get the chance to apply your new skills in the last few days of the course with a “graduation climb” up a mountain peak.

During this 14-Day backpacking course, you’ll find yourself exploring the heart of the least visited National Park in the United States. As you travel through the Chugach or Wrangell mountain ranges, exploring snow covered glaciers, rocky ridges, and tundra, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills to plan and lead adventure-based experiential education trips.

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  • Duration: 14 days
  • Minimum Age: 14
  • Tuition: $3,010.00
  • Credit Hours: 0.5
Available Dates
Jul 23, 2020 - Aug 05, 2020
Jul 22, 2021 - Aug 04, 2021

Education Always

  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Awareness certification
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning
  • Itinerary
  • FAQs
  • Credits
  • Outcomes
  • Downloads

Itinerary Highlights

  • NCOAE core curriculum
  • LNT Awareness training
  • Gain experience in expedition planning, wilderness risk management, remote campcraft, environmental studies, backcountry navigation, leadership in the wilderness, outdoor technology, and more
  • Remote Alaska backpacking

Why Take This Course

  • Develop Backpacking skills
  • Explore Alaskan mountain ranges, wide-open tundra, and snow covered glaciers
  • Advance your knowledge of environmental science and outdoor leadership curriculum — while living and learning in Alaska’s wild, beautiful places
  • Discover which areas of outdoor and wilderness education are best suited to your strengths
  • Acquire the skills needed to travel in remote, pristine destinations around the world!

Where You’ll Be

  • Wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve — America’s largest National Park
  • Chugach & Wrangell Mountain ranges
  • Anchorage, Alaska
Where does the 14-day Alaska Backpacking teen adventure course take place?

Fly in to Anchorage, Alaska then head to McCarthy, Alaska, where you’ll travel to a remote base camp in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, relying solely on yourself and your group 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).

How far will I be hiking?

You and your party will travel more than 30 miles across mountains, glaciers, snow-melt streams, and tundra, practicing backpacking and camping skills needed to explore rugged, remote areas around the world!

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.

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 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.

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 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 remote, rugged conditions.

What do I need to do physically to 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 30 and 40 pounds at any given time. You will be hiking over rugged terrain, crossing rivers and trekking across glaciers.

Is the 14-day course offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer teen adventure courses in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the summer to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also  explore the Pacific Northwest or North Carolina on a 14-day summer expedition!

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 ages of students in the 14-day Alaska Backpacking teen adventure course?

Students enrolled in this course are 14-18 years old.

What gear and equipment do I need?

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 14-day Alaska Backpacking teen adventure course pack list.

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. Each student should bring a small amount of spending money for personal items; such as 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.

Academic Credit

Learning achieved through NCOAE’s 14-day Backpacking teen adventure course may be eligible for high school credits through Blueprint Education, an accredited distance learning school for grades seven through 12 with a mission of inspiring students to make better choices and be champions of their own learning.

Academic Course Hours and Credits

The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) curriculum maintains and exceeds U.S. high school standards for seat-time. Students may be eligible for the following high school credits:

  • Physical Education: Achieved through learning and showing proficiency in mountaineering, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, standup paddle boarding, alpine, and/or backpacking activities.
  • Outdoor Leadership: Achieved through learning and showing proficiency in interpersonal development, small group dynamics, critical thinking, and decision making.
  • Environmental Studies: Achieved through learning about and showing proficiency in water conservation, astronomy, environmental sustainability, Leave No Trace (LNT), cycle of rain clouds, and oceanography.

Course Outcomes

This 14-day course is strenuous and will test your route-finding skills, stamina, and ability to excel in the outdoors. You will bushwhack, travel steep side-hills, navigate challenging terrain, cross multiple ice-cold streams and rivers, and encounter untouched flora, fauna, and landscapes.

Where do you want to go (physically, mentally, socially, academic, etc.)?

Traveling through Wrangell – St. Elias National Park will allow you to rely on yourself and your fellow outdoor leaders – for everything. Additionally, you’ll learn environmental and civic responsibility, backcountry navigation, wilderness risk management, outdoor ethics, leadership and communication styles, as well as decision-making and teamwork. You will return home confident in your ability to lead others and guide, and instruct groups in the backcountry using your newfound skills.

How will NCOAE help you get there?

The 14-day Alaska – Backpacking teen adventure course is the affordable option if you are seeking extraordinary outdoor skill development, including: wilderness risk management, backpacking, backcountry cooking and living, and expedition planning. Best of all, you’ll advance your opportunities to travel in the wilderness and to affect positive changes in the world.

Upcoming Dates / Reserve Your Spot

This 14-day Alaska Backpacking teen adventure course, for students ages 14-18 is only offered through NCOAE, which is why we’re excited to offer it in the remote Alaskan wilderness.

Available Dates
Jul 23, 2020 - Aug 05, 2020
Jul 22, 2021 - Aug 04, 2021

You’ll develop your personal leadership style, gain wilderness skills, and learn effective tools for communication. Finally, you will acquire skills with self and group assessment and develop the ability to teach and share your appreciation of the natural environment with others.