Alaska

Alaska Volunteer Trip

North to Alaska! Join our volunteer trip to Alaska and experience the allure of this big land known for its vast forests, spectacular glaciers, and exciting wildlife sightings. Our trip begins in Juneau, in the nation’s largest national forest, where we will participate in volunteer projects next to the stunning Mendenhall Glacier. Then northward we go to Skagway, on a ferry through the deepest fjord in North America, following the route of the Gold Rush of 1898. In Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park we will work on projects at Dyea Townsite, the starting point for Chilkoot Trail, the historic 33-mile route that led to the gold fields of the Yukon and Dawson City. No trip to Skagway would be complete without a ride on the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, so our Alaska trip includes a ride on this engineering wonder. Then, we will whale watch and gaze at glaciers on the return catamaran ride to Juneau, where the journey ends.

Click on the expandable links below for details.

Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area is in Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest national forest. It is part of the Juneau Ranger District, the largest ranger district in the nation. Welcome to Alaska - it’s big! Our volunteer project here will focus on popular trails within sight of the stunning landscape of Mendenhall Glacier. 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, and our project work 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. We will construct a new, accessible interpretive trail to replace an existing informal trail that was not planned or properly located. Dyea, the trail site location, is rich with historic, archaeological, and wildlife resources, and promises to be an educational and enjoyable location in which to work. With approximately 8,000 inhabitants during the Gold Rush in the late 1800’s, the 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.

Because local conditions and the Park’s 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 vary but 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.

Group Size: 8 - 12 plus trip leaders
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 in the John R. Pugh Residence Hall for the four nights we are in Juneau. We will share an informal welcome dinner on the beautiful campus overlooking Auke Lake as we transition into Alaska, the land of the midnight sun. Dinner and lodging included.

Days 2 - 4: Volunteer projects in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.
Following breakfast, we will start our first volunteer project day at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for an overview (emphasis on “View!”) of the Mendenhall Glacier. Then we will go to the Juneau Ranger District Office for an introduction to our partners, the Juneau District Ranger and trail staff, a group orientation, and safety/trail training. Part of the training will include “Working in Bear Country” presented by a local expert. Post-training, we will depart for the volunteer project location in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, where we will spend the afternoon and the following two days. Our trail work will include restoration of trail tread and alignment and vegetation management. Over the last several years there have been a number of glacial outburst floods from Mendenhall Glacier into Mendenhall Lake (some call them “jolkulaups,” an Icelandic term). These outbursts have caused the Mendenhall Lake to rise and flood nearby trails, campground, and neighborhood. Depending on local conditions, we may help with repairs necessitated by this natural phenomenon. Breakfast, box lunch, dinner and lodging included.

Day 5: 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. We will 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 six nights. All meals and lodging included.

Days 6 - 7 and 9 - 10: Volunteer Projects in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Our work on these volunteer project days will be in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, constructing a new interpretive trail in the Dyea Townsite. Rich with historic, archaeological, and wildlife resources, Dyea promises to be an educational and interesting location in which to work and enjoy. With approximately 8,000 inhabitants during the Gold Rush in the late 1800’s, the 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 quickly abandoned. Today Dyea still piques the curiosity and imagination of visitors who seek out this remote location. 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. For our first three days, we will enjoy dinner at the Outpost. On Day 9, after freshening up at the Outpost, volunteers can head to Skagway where we will have free time to explore and choose from a variety of local restaurants. All meals and lodging included except dinner on Day 9.

Day 8: Catch a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.
On this day, we take a rest from project work. After breakfast 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, cliff-hanging turns, two tunnels and numerous trestles while showcasing stunning mountain views, gorges, glaciers and waterfalls.  We will return to Chilkoot Trail Outpost where we will enjoy our group dinner together. All meals and lodging included.

Day 11: 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 whale 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. Project locations may vary with each volunteer trip according to the needs of the park at the time the trip takes place.
$2,995 for eleven days
(Note: Your trip expense may be tax-deductible. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page and consult your tax adviser for details.)

Price includes:
  • all meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 11, except for dinner on Day 9, as described in the itinerary
  • 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:
  • travel costs to and from Juneau, Alaska
  • Dinner on Day 9
  • medical immunizations
  • insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip)
  • excess baggage charges
  • alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
  • personal items

Payment terms:
  • A $400 deposit will be required to reserve a spot on the trip
  • The remainder of the trip price will be due 90 days before the trip
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 the Gear List PDF.

Alaska Volunteer Dates

June 12 – 22, 2017 (trip full)
or call 1-800-622-2236

Alaska Trip Review


Alaska Impact

Expand the Trip Reports link below to see the difference past volunteers to Alaska made!

Click to view the PDF Trip Reports.

July 2016

Also, visit the Impact Summary page and see the difference volunteers make!

About Alaska

If you’re ready to experience more of Alaska, a great place to start your planning is the official State of Alaska travel site. You can find a myriad of adventure activities like helicopter landing tours or dog sledding on the Juneau Ice Fields, salt or fresh water fishing, whale watching, guided hiking, biking, or brewery tours, zip line adventures, bear and wildlife viewing, kayaking or rafting – you name it! Or explore the arts, unique Native culture, and history of Alaska through the many avenues of cultural and historical museums, totem parks, and heritage centers.

Related Travel Information

Arriving early or staying late in Juneau? If you are a fan of wildlife viewing or wildlife photography, you might want to visit the brown bear viewing site at Pack Creek on Admiralty Island. ConservationVIP has a video of a brown bear fishing for salmon at Pack Creek on our YouTube channel.