Volunteer in Alaska!
Volunteer in Alaska and experience the allure of this big land known for its vast forests, spectacular glaciers, and exciting wildlife sightings.
Our volunteer trip begins in Juneau, where we will participate in volunteer trail projects. Juneau is the home of the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area and headquarters for the Juneau Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest. 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 help with projects on the Chilkoot Trail, the historic 33-mile route that led to the gold fields of the Yukon and Dawson City. On our final day, we will whale watch and gaze at glaciers on the return catamaran ride to Juneau, where the journey ends.
Alaska Volunteer Trip Details
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project activities | itinerary | price | trip reviews | prior trip reports | safety
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, 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. 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
(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:
- travel costs to and from Juneau, Alaska
- any COVID-19 testing required by Alaska
- medical immunizations
- insurance (emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip)
- excess baggage charges
- alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
- personal items
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
Submit your review
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
To ensure that Alaskan forests remain a vibrant presence in our environment to be enjoyed for generations to come.
Why did you choose this trip?
On my trip agenda & test my endurance in my old age.
What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Condition your stamina, have an open mind, and enjoy mother natures' elements.
What was the highlight of your trip?
An incredible working journeys. I'm positive the trip leaders - Marti & Don - both leave the team with a reason to be inspired and strive to get to that future with them. It was amazing how much as a team with the forest rangers - Mikey, Aric, Phillipe - we keep the momentum going to accomplishments as we packed into those few days. Tlingits' lectures on traditions, plus trip leaders' stories and descriptions and the history of the sites were very remarkable. To the virtues of teamwork that worked above and beyond any requirement !
I recommend this trip.
Overall one of the best vacations taken. The group dynamics were terrific and the work was rewarding. The trip leaders made the experience a lot of fun, I would highly recommend this trip
I recommend this trip.
I traveled solo to Alaska. Our group consisted of all solo travelers. All ages. After the trip completed everyone had become friends. We laughed a lot and shared stories among each other and with our talented, skilled, professional National Park & Forest service staff. Phillipe, Aric and Mike welcomed each of us to work alongside them as we performed needed work along the trails.
The natural sights all around us each day in Alaska made for an amazing place to come to work. Thankfully for us we only had 2 days of rain, all other days were beautiful. It even got hot some days as we worked.
Work involved several hours each day (aside from free time days) of getting dirty in the dirt and water and mud. Bring work leather gloves!!! Wear sturdy, good water proof hiking boots! Plenty of sore muscles at the end of each work day.
Luckily in my group, we all enjoyed good times at meal time. Everyone mixed and mingled terrifically.
Get over to Alaska!
Why did you choose this trip?
Love playing in the dirt...always have. Alaska seemed perfect place to go. REI adventures captured my interest. I'm glad I went. Everything is taken care of for you.
What would your advice be to potential travelers?
Bring good leather gloves, wool caps and good stable comfortable hiking boots. I used insect repellant once. Others used it more. Do bring sunscreen. Nights in rooms get chilly. I'm glad I brought warm long sleeves top & bottom & socks...floor is cold at night when you get outta bed. Juneau & Skagway are very nice small towns. I'd recommend taking time if possible before or after to enjoy exploring these 2 towns.
What was the highlight of your trip?
The scenery was magnificent, the mountains just incredible & beautiful, the park & forest service staff outstanding...my favorite part however - having a cold brew at the end of a long hard day with my fellow travelers...and dinner waiting for me!
I recommend this 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 Gear List PDF.
Click to view the PDF Trip Reports.
Also, visit the Impact Summary page and see the difference volunteers make!
ConservationVIP has always focused on our volunteers’ safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened that focus. Traveling with COVID-19 safety concerns requires some extra planning and flexibility both for trip leaders and trip participants!
Because of continuing COVID concerns, we are restricting participation on this trip to people who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations. Participants will also have to comply with the regulations established by the State of Alaska for travelers from outside Alaska and with any local regulations imposed.
While on the trip, participants will also have to follow procedures such as mask wearing and social distancing. More specific COVID related safety instructions will be provided to those registered for the trip.
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.