We begin our project work in Juneau, headquarters for the Juneau Ranger District of Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest and home of the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. There we will participate in volunteer projects under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.
Welcome to Alaska – it’s big! Mendenhall Glacier is one of the top three visitor destinations in Alaska and is much loved. Use and weather take their toll on these trails. Our volunteer projects will involve restoration of trail tread and alignment, erosion control, and vegetation management.
Our second project site is in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park near Skagway, Alaska. With approximately 8,000 inhabitants during the Gold Rush in the late 1800’s, the Dyea town site was once a bustling city. But after the White Pass and Yukon Railroad was constructed from Skagway through White Pass, Skagway became the community that endured and Dyea was largely abandoned. Today Dyea still piques the curiosity and imagination of visitors who seek out this remote location while the Chilkoot trail draws hikers who want to see the route experienced by the early gold miners.
Because local conditions and the land managers needs continually evolve, please remember that detailed project plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. Volunteer Trips offer the opportunity to experience the land in a unique way not available to the average tourist.
No prior trail maintenance experience is required, and training is provided. Project tasks will vary during the 8 days of trail work. You should be able to hike with a day pack, move soil or rock with a shovel, pull unwanted vegetation, or carry stones or lumber. Because all projects are in locations with the potential for bear encounters (primarily black bears), your safety training will address working in bear country. As always, your safety is our priority.
Day 1: Meet in Juneau Alaska for orientation and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Our volunteer trip begins today at 5:00 p.m. when we meet and greet on the beautiful University of Alaska Southeast Campus, where the volunteers will be lodged for the five nights we are in Juneau. In the evening we will share an informal welcome dinner as we transition into Alaska, the land of the midnight sun. Dinner and lodging included.
Days 2 – 5: Volunteer projects in the area in surrounding the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area and nearby sites.
Following breakfast, we will meet our U.S. Forest Service partners, conduct a safety session, and start our first volunteer project day. The project may include trail naturalization, including deconstructing a boardwalk, and other typical trail maintenance activities such as clearing and brushing. During this time, we will also visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for an overview (emphasis on “View!”) of the Mendenhall Glacier. Breakfast, box lunch, dinner and lodging included.
Day 6: Ferry through the Inside Passage to Skagway; check in at Chilkoot Trail Outpost.
Today we will travel to Skagway via ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway through Lynn Canal. With a depth of over 2,000 feet, this is the deepest fjord in North America. At 90 miles long, it is also the longest in the world. When we arrive in Skagway, we will stop at the Park’s visitor center, take a drive-through orientation tour of Skagway and then head seven miles out of Skagway to the historic town site of Dyea. There we will check into the Chilkoot Trail Outpost, a rustic Bed and Breakfast which will be our home for the next five nights. All meals and lodging included.
Days 7 thru 11: Volunteer Projects in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
We will spend four days working on projects in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The project work will primarily be working on maintenance projects on the Chilkoot Trail. Each afternoon we will head back to the Chilkoot Trail Outpost to freshen up and relax before dinner. Or you may want to use one of the Outpost’s bicycles to tour the area. All meals and lodging included.
We will also take a rest day on Sunday, when we will catch a ride on the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow-gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The route climbs nearly 3,000 feet in 20 miles of steep grades, cliffhanging turns, two tunnels and numerous trestles while showcasing stunning mountain views, gorges, glaciers and waterfalls. All meals and lodging included.
Day 12: Back to Juneau on a catamaran through the Inside Passage.
After an early breakfast we will catch an Alaska Fjordlines catamaran from Skagway to Juneau, where the Alaska Volunteer Trip ends. We expect to arrive in Juneau by noon, but if you plan on flying home that day, it is best not to schedule a flight before 2:00 P.M., because our boat will slow to enjoy any wildlife sightings! Volunteers wishing to stay longer in Juneau should make their own reservations at local hotels. Breakfast included.
Notes on Itinerary
Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING AIR TRAVEL: Before purchasing your airline tickets, please check with us to ensure the trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions and changes in the ferry and catamaran schedules. Project locations may vary with each volunteer trip according to the needs of the park at the time the trip takes place.
$3,895 for twelve days (single supplement $1,050 subject to availability)
(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax adviser for details.)
- all meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 12
- all lodging
- all van, boat and train transportation as noted on the itinerary
- transportation to project sites
- park entrance fees
- gratuities for services provided to the group
- project leadership and support staff
- group tools
- orientation and training
Price does not include:
Deposit and Cancellation
A deposit of $500 per person is required at the time of signup; final payment is due at 90 days prior to departure. The payment and refund policy can be found here.
Group Size: 8 – 12 plus trip leaders
Average rating: 13 reviews
Jul 12, 2023
Alaska June 2023
Absolutely amazing way to experience Alaska!!! Loved the opportunities to meet and work with knowledgeable and enthusiastic members of the US Forest Service and National Park Service. It felt wonderful to work in the beautiful outdoors and improve areas for visitors and their families. And in exchange for our work, we got so much more...a deeper understanding of the history and challenges experienced by Alaskans, insight from experts in flora and fauna, building, history, archeology, amazing views on the Auke Bay Ferry, White Pass Train, and the Fjordlines catamaran, great food, camaraderie and fun! This was my 5th trip with Conservation VIP and each one has been a tremendously enjoyable and rewarding experience. Can't wait for my next adventure with Conservation VIP!
Jun 26, 2023
Alaska June 2023
Another fantastic Conservation VIP trip! This is my fifth trip, and CVIP never disappoints. Alaska is an amazing place, and we had the opportunity to visit and help maintain all that makes it wonderful. In Juneau, we worked with the Forest Service on Mendenhall Glacier trails and others in the area - the work was somewhat challenging (establishing better drainage on trails, re-leveling and fortifying the high use trail areas with gravel, as well as clearing back overgrown brush), but never too much to detract from appreciating the incredible natural beauty. And I would love to know how our leaders arranged the bear awaiting us at the trailhead of the Peterson Trail - what an awesome experience! Moving on to Skagway gave us a deep dive into the gold rush history there. We worked with the Park Service on the first few miles of the Chilkoot Trail, unbelievable that the miners hiked not only that part but an additional 31 miles to get over the pass! We also helped out with the campground maintenance, again not too arduous (clearing brush and invasive species and planting indigenous plants in more bare areas). Not all work - we got to visit the now abandoned boom town of Dyea, tour historic Skagway, and of course more hiking. Marvelous accommodations in adorable cabins a half mile from the Chilkoot Trailhead with delicious food cooked by our most delightful host, Kathy. But our trip leaders, Susan and Max, were what made the trip exceptional. They worked with the FS and NPS, handled all travel arrangements, kept us busy with very worthwhile work yet provided opportunities on our rest time to get out and truly explore and experience Southeast Alaska. And made it all seamless. Kudos! Highly recommend this trip. It's the best combination of giving back to nature while truly enjoying it.
Jun 25, 2023
This was my third Conservation VIP trip (the other two being Yosemite in Fall and Spring.). This trip was remarkable in so many ways; being in Alaska, (also my third time in Alaska) its wildness, vastness and beauty beyond words. We worked hard, accomplished a great deal of necessary and worthwhile projects. It fascinating to see a group come together over a period of twelve days and share so much of life. We also were able to experience many side trips and a deeper immersion into the area and culture. This was a real bonus and the benefits we received as a group was a fruit of several years of working with the NPS and Forest Service. They like us and treated as so well. Its a real pleasure to work with people committed to preservation and protection of our wild spaces. The group leaders, Susan and Max did a wonderful job of shepherding us through the projects, side trips, and meals. I recommend this trip!
Jul 11, 2022
Alaska 2022 Trip
The Alaska trip was our first trip with Conservation VIP. We have done volunteer trips with other organizations, and we were impressed with the organization, trip leadership, group efforts, fun, and work completed. The trip details, from making sure we were comfortable in our accommodations, organizing our work projects, to reserving fun restaurants, train trips, boat trips and transportation, and great guest speakers, Conservation VIP and our leaders Susan and Norman deserve huge credit. We also worked well as a group, and a big part of this trip is knowing and seeing that our hard work really made a difference on the trails and to other Alaska hikers and outdoor fans. While on the trails in Juneau and Skagway, we were often thanked by passing hikers for our work! Yes, we worked hard, and yes, we were tired at the end of our workdays, but being part of a team with leaders that brought fun, humor, cooperation, encouragement, and spectacular scenery made this a wonderful trip!
Jul 1, 2022
Very rewarding trip. We worked hard and accomplished much. Alaska is breathtaking. The trip leaders handled every detail and unexpected event with expertise and calmness. The group had great cohesiveness during and after work. This is my 3rd conservationvip trip and I hope to do many more. Follow the gear recommendations and you’ll be ready for anything that comes up.
Aug 4, 2021
There is no better way to understand a new-to-you part of the world than working there! Alaska was my 2nd trip with Conservation VIP- I took the 2nd because the 1st was so good. Both trips had knowledgeable, enthusiastic and excellent attention to detail leaders. There was a good mix of work and fun. Yes, the work was hard, but our host leaders were excellent- all leaders first concern was safety so I never felt out of my comfort zone. Fun included 4th of July in Skagway, population 900. It was Small Town America at its best- a throw back to the 1950's- all ages parade, pizza tossing and raw egg tossing contests, where winners and losers hugged each other. GO!
Jul 23, 2021
Definitely a good trip. A lot of hard work, but satisfying to see the difference many hands can make in a few days. It was unique in that cruise ships had not yet started their post COVID trips, so both Juneau and Skagway were very quiet. And, it was warm with no rain the whole time - amazing.
Jul 18, 2021
This was my 5th trip with ConservationVIP and like all the others it exceeded my (very high) expectations. A chance to do meaningful work in a beautiful place with like-minded participants and leaders. I especially liked working as a multigenerational group with our local partners and am proud of all we accomplished together. Adding some neat birds to my life list didn’t hurt either!
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. The gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. View the Gear List PDF.
ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!
While on the trip, participants may have to follow procedures such as mask-wearing and social distancing as instructed by the trip leader. More specific safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.
Participants will also have to comply with any restrictions imposed by Alaska and their country of origin at the time of travel. While we know that the restrictions may change between now and the time of travel, we cannot predict what those changes will be.