Anchorage Aurora Quest | Alaska Northern Lights Photo Tour
Embark on an exciting journey to scenic locations with the best views of northern lights rippling over snowy peaks and dancing across dark waters. Anchorage Aurora Quest significantly increases the odds of aurora viewing success by allowing you to reserve as many nights as you like [space available] and pay only when when conditions are optimal for the tour to run. Northern lights are a natural phenomenon dependent on both space and earth weather. Though we can never 100% guarantee the lights will be out, with the help of available technology we can increase the odds of success. This tour is for everyone who has viewing northern lights on their life list, from serious photographers to sightseers. If desired, you will be coached on how to best photograph auroras and provided a tripod. Aurora portraits are also offered while on tour.
Check out Twilight Photo Tour for a fantastic package deal that includes a wonderful winter excursion as evening falls and opportunity to sign up for Anchorage Aurora Quest.
This is a small group tour [1-8] for all levels of photographers. Guest to guide ratio is 1:4. The tour is tailored to your wishes, whether it's sightseeing, seeking to learn how to use camera manual settings, desiring creative and technical tips, or just wanting a local expert to get you to the right place at the right time. Non-photographers* are welcome to join to enjoy the variety of scenic locations through the golden hours, sunset and twilight.
*Due to the small and exclusive nature of this tour, we are not able to offer discount for non-photographers.
Sep 1 - Mar 31
Nightly when conditions are right, which means 3Kp or higher and less than 25% cloud cover. If earth and space weather look good, you will receive a tour update via text and email by 6 pm, at which time you will be instructed to submit payment. After payment is received, you will receive a followup message with the exact pickup time at your Anchorage area accommodations. Pickups usually take place between 9-11 pm. Duration is 4-6 hours.
Ssshhh, it's a secret, but we have several favorite locations within a 60-mile radius of Anchorage that offer wonderful views of the night sky, and great land features such as reflective lakes, forests and mountain peaks. The location[s] we visit are based on conditions at the time, and we may travel to 2-3 locations during the evening.
Mode of Transportation
All-wheel drive vehicles with seating for 3 [or 4 for groups]. Driver is your photography guide.
- Anchorage area hotel pickup and drop-off [Girdwood and Alyeska Resort bookings may be made for groups of 8 or more].
- Narrative on the science and lore surrounding auroras provided by your guide.
- Light snacks and water [we strive to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment, so fresh water from a jug along with refillable cups].
- Hot beverage selection including hot cocoa, cider, tea or coffee.
- Creative and technical photography instruction is offered by your professional photographer guide.
- A limited number of tripods are available for loan.
What To Bring
- Camera with manual settings
- Wide angle lens wide aperture [something in 24-70mm f/2.8 range will work well, but the wider the better]
- Charged battery [preferably at least 2]
- At least 4GB memory card
- Sturdy Tripod [we have a limited number to loan]
- Remote shutter release or cable shutter release
Photography equipment rental available at Stewart's Photo Shop.
Dress in warm layers! We may be away from the vehicle for up to 2-hours. It's important to gear up appropriately and plan to keep moving while out. It's also better to wear one pair of warm socks than two. This is because the more socks you add, the more likely you are to constrict circulation. Try to leave a pocket of airspace around your foot in the boot. Also wear a warm, moisture-wicking under layer, mid layer [preferably fleece] and thick, snow proof outer layer, along with hat, scarf and gloves. Arctic gear including bibs, parka and boots is available to rent at 6th Avenue Outfitters.
- Warm and comfortable snow boots with good tread
- Moisture wicking socks
- Moister wicking under layer
- Fleece jacket
- Well insulated and snow proof outer layer [coat and pants]
- Hat, scarf and gloves
How to Prepare
- Rest up before your scheduled booking[s].
- Use the restroom in advance. There are very few restrooms open in state parks this time of year, and limited public options available in the wee hours of early morning when the tour takes place... though there are complimentary trees and bushes available at all locations. 🙂
- Once the tour has confirmed to run and you have received a pickup time at your location, please be ready at that time. Auroras usually don't become active in our zone until after midnight, but sometimes there are spectacular, early sub storms and it is always sad when we miss them while looking for tardy guests.
- If capturing the northern lights on camera is your main objective, we strongly recommend reading a Shoot Recipe|Photographing the Northern Lights before the tour. You'll receive additional coaching in the field.
This is a moderate activity that involves short walks (up to one mile) on snow and ice. Weather conditions may include wind, and temperatures range from 0ºF [-17ºC] to 50ºF [10ºC].
IMPORTANT BOOKING INFORMATION
- Make as many reservations as you like [separate for each night], but PLEASE DO NOT ENTER PAYMENT on your reservation. You will be notified if/when the tour runs and instructed to make payment then. If you prepay and the tour cancels due to poor conditions, there will be a 10% processing fee.
- We use modern technology to insure conditions will be optimal for viewing, but auroras are still unpredictable and that's part of what makes them so special. If conditions look good, you will receive a tour update by 6 pm and instructed to submit payment then. Once payment is received, you will be sent a pickup time for your Anchorage area accommodations. Please DO NOT make payment until the tour confirms to run. If conditions are marginal, you will be given the option of whether to proceed with the tour or not. Once payment is received and the tour departs, no refund will be issued if auroras do not appear as expected.
- Please cancel your reservation at least 24 hours in advance if your plans change. If you are not available for the night you reserved and the tour runs, you may be billed for your seat if it could have been filled by another guest.
Attention: By reserving an Alaska Photo Treks photography workshop, tour, class, private or group instruction, private or group guided tour, you are agreeing to our Booking Policies and Liability Waiver. Please read the link before completing booking.