Alaska is a huge and incredibly diverse state full of rugged beauty. While winters are cold and dark, summers are moderate, full of sun, lush green forests, and wildlife. Within this beautiful land is a great deal of spiritual need. Alaskans are (for the most part) rugged and independent, making ministry challenging. Thirst Missions is very excited to bring groups to The Last Frontier to work alongside local churches to bring the love of Christ to the people in very practical ways.
Facts & Figures
Location: North America, northwest of Canada
Area: 663,000 square miles (larger than Texas, California, Utah, Kansas, and Florida combined)
Largest City: Anchorage, 300,950
State Population: 737,259
Coastline: 33,904 miles (Florida is second with 8,400 miles)
Climate: 60-80 highs in summer, 40-50 lows. Alaska has everything from a temperate oceanic climate to arctic tundra. Anchorage is considered a subarctic climate.
Terrain: Everything from rugged coastlines to tundra, woods, and the highest mountains on the continent.
Elevation Extremes: 0 to 23,320 feet (coastline to Mt. McKinley)
Natural resources: Oil and gas, timber/forestry products, commercial fishing, wildlife
Geography note: By square miles Alaska is 1/5 as large as the lower 48. If you lay Alaska on a map of the US, the Inside Passage reaches to the East Coast and the Aleutian Islands stretch to the West Coast.
- Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741 when Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.
- Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.
- In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska. Many Americans called the purchase “Seward’s Folly.”
- Joe Juneau’s 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era.
- In 1926 13-year-old Bennie Benson from Cognac, Alaska designed the state flag.
- In 1943 Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, which started the One Thousand Mile War, the first battle fought on American soil since the Civil War.
- Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.
- Alaska’s most important revenue source is the oil and natural gas industry. Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.
- Prudhoe Bay, on the northern Alaskan coast, is North America’s largest oil field.
- The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.
- The state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
- The fishing and seafood industry is the state’s largest private industry employer.
- Most of America’s salmon, crab, halibut, and herring come from Alaska.
- The term Alaska native refers to Alaska’s original inhabitants including Aleut, Eskimo, and Indian groups.
- The wild forget-me-not is the official state flower, the willow ptarmigan is the official state bird, and the Sitka spruce is the official state tree.
- Dog mushing is the official state sport.
- The state motto is North to the Future.
- Gold is the official state mineral. It was named the state mineral in 1968.
- Alaska has been called America’s Last Frontier.
- Every four years Alaskans elect a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor to four-year terms.
- Alaska’s Constitution was adopted in 1956 and became effective in 1959 making it the 49th state.
- Nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
- The Alaska Highway was originally built as a military supply road during World War II.
- The state boasts the lowest population density in the nation.
- Alaska is a geographical marvel. When a scale map of Alaska is superimposed on a map of the 48 lower states, Alaska extends from coast to coast.
- The state’s coastline extends over 6,600 miles.
- The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States.
- 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are located in Alaska.
- At 20,320 feet above sea level, Mt. McKinley, located in Alaska’s interior, is the highest point in North America.
- The state’s largest city is Anchorage; the second largest is Fairbanks.
- The Alaska Range is the largest mountain chain in the state. It covers from the Alaska Peninsula to the Yukon Territory.
- In 1915 the record high temperature in Alaska was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Yukon; the record low temperature was -80 degrees Fahrenheit at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971.
- The Alaskan malamute sled dog is strong and heavily coated. It was developed as a breed by a group of Eskimos named the Malemiuts.
- Alaska’s name is based on the Eskimo word Alakshak meaning great lands or peninsula.
- When the sun’s rays strike the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they cause gases there to glow like a florescent light. This reaction is called the aurora borealis (northern lights) and can be seen an average of 243 days a year in Fairbanks.
Alaska by the Numbers
663,000 – Alaska’s size in square miles (Alaska is larger than Texas, California, Utah, Kansas, and Florida combined)
100+ – Number of languages spoken in Anchorage Public School District (about the same as Los Angeles Unified)
50% – Anchorage students who are non-Caucasian
16 – People living in Manhattan if New York had same population density as Alaska (Manhattan has 1.62 million residents)
2,000 – Number of miles salmon swim up the Yukon River
1,150 – Miles run in the Iditarod dog sled race
100,000+ – Number of glaciers in Alaska
50% – Percentage of world’s bald eagles that live in Alaska
20,320 – Height of Denali in feet – the tallest point in North America
3 Million – Number of natural lakes in Alaska
1,600+ – Hours of daylight in the world’s longest day in Barrow, Alaska, where the sun doesn’t set from May 10 through August 2
4 to 1 – Ratio of lakes to people in Alaska
Clean-up, repair work, and painting in homes and churches
Skilled construction repairing/rebuilding homes
Attend and participate in your partner church
Homeless, senior citizens, hospitals, children’s homes, etc.
Outreach events, cookouts, evangelism, prayer walking, etc.
Sports camps or pick-up games of soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.
Bible studies, parenting classes, lay-leader training, sewing, etc.
Attend, participate in, or lead youth events or bible study
Attend, participate in, or lead children’s events, Sunday school, or VBS
*Choosing this option may incur an additional cost
Price & Registration
$ 999Per Participant
$ 949Per Participant
$ 899Per Participant
More Info at a Glance
- All 2023 dates open for registration except for closed dates.
- Trip Prices reflect a 6-day, 5-night mission trip/person
- Additional Days: $89/person/day
- Guest House Lodging: $30/person/day
Please contact us for your customized trip estimate.
CLOSED DATES: July 3-5, 2023
Complimentary Final-Day Recreation on All Trips
Turnagain Arm, Wildlife Conservation Center, Byron Glacier, Virgin Falls
After a fulfilling week of ministry, teams will drive along Cook Inlet’s beautiful Turnagain Arm.
Turnagain Arm, southeast of Anchorage, draws its name from the British Explorer James Cook, who was forced to “turn again” when the waterway didn’t hold passage through the state. This scenic route is nestled between gorgeous mountain ranges, such as the Kenai and Chugach mountains and the unique bore tide that flows in and out of the Inlet. The trip will include numerous panoramic stops along the highway to soak in God’s creation and take pictures. Keep your eyes out to the ocean for a possible sighting of beluga whales and other sea life, as well as to the mountains for spotting moose or Dall sheep!
Upon arriving at Portage, teams will be able to experience some of Alaska’s wildlife up close at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This center is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research and quality animal care. They house orphaned and injured animals, such as: brown bears, wood bison, moose, wolves, caribou, reindeer and more.
Continuing through the Portage Valley, you will then hike a river trail to Byron Glacier in a gorgeous mountain basin. From there we go to Virgin Falls, a scenic waterfall in the northernmost rainforest in the world and end our day with a meal at a local restaurant.
Mid-Week Upgrade Option
Enjoy an afternoon at Eklutna Lake, where your team will be able to soak in the surrounding beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. Teams will have the opportunity to experience kayaking on the glacier-fed lake’s pristine turquoise waters, as well as enjoying time hiking or trail biking through the untouched forest along the lakeshore. If you are more inclined to relax around the fire, you’re welcome to do so! This half day of recreation will conclude with a hot dog/chicken wing BBQ around the campfire.
Transportation, kayak rental, mountain bike rental, meal included: $80/person
Final Day Upgrade Options
Alaskan wilderness grips for our attention, from vast forests and snow peaked mountains to glacier-fed lakes and salmon filled streams. Out of the immeasurable beauty of Alaska, are the captivating relics of a time gone by, glaciers. Glaciers cover about 28,800 square miles, or 3% of Alaska (Alaska DNR). Your team can have the opportunity to embark on a cruise to see these remarkable glaciers.
1-Hour Portage Cruise
Cruising on Portage Lake, you will have the opportunity to view one of the mighty Alaskan glaciers, Portage Glacier. During this 1 hour cruise, get up close to this remarkable piece of history, touch and feel glacier ice and watch for possible calving (chunks of ice breaking off the glacier).
This cruise is done in addition to the complimentary recreation – $45/person.
Prince William Sound Cruises
Phillips Cruises and Tours bring you on a cruise through the breathtaking Prince William Sound. The Sound is a wonderland of massive glaciers, vast forests and abundant wildlife. Due to time constraints, these options would replace the complimentary recreation.
Exploring 45 miles of Prince William Sound, make sure to keep your eyes open to spot sea otters, whales, sea lions, eagles and many other types of wildlife living amongst these waters and shorelines. This high-speed catamaran cruises through coves, bays and views around 7 named glaciers.
Transportation, cruise, meal, tea/coffee included – $149/person.
Exploring 140 miles of Prince William Sound, this glacier cruise often encounters sea lions, whales, sea otters, eagles and harbor seals. Aboard a luxurious high-speed catamaran, this cruise is a 5-hour voyage passing twenty-six glaciers.
Transportation, cruise, meal, tea/coffee included – $189/person
Alyeska Resort – Aerial Tram Ride
Tucked amid the Chugach Mountains is Alyeska Resort, most prominent as a ski resort in the winter months. This is a place to discover the wilderness and expansive beauty of Alaska. The Aerial Tram at Alyeska is a seven minute scenic ride to the top of Mt. Alyeska, 2,200ft in elevation. Aboard the Tram, breathtaking scenery stretches before you of lush forests, mountain ranges and glaciers. During the summer months sightings of moose and bear are common, don’t forget to look down! At the top you can spend time at the cafe Bore Tide Deli, enjoy the panoramic views at the observation deck, or go for a hike amongst the trails.
As time allows, the tram ride is done in addition to the complimentary recreation. $65/person.
Registration for recreation and any other trip upgrades can be done during registration or after registration through your trip portal, that’s assigned after registering.
The sample itinerary will give you an idea of what to expect on your Alaskan adventure. The trip itinerary will be customized for each week based on the church partner’s needs and ministry goals. Each week will be amazing!
Download a copy of our Sample Itinerary here
Why Alaska & What's Included?
- Most unchurched state in the US
- Poverty, alcoholism, abuse, and homelessness among the highest in the nation
- Local pastors want the help and encouragement of outreach oriented teams
- Invest in awesome kids in need of Christian role models
- Experience the rugged beauty of the last frontier: Glacier-fed lakes, lush forests, and snow-capped mountains teeming with Wildlife
Leader & Participant Manuals (PDF)
Full Hour-by-Hour Trip Itinerary
Alaska Church/Ministry Partner
Experienced Staff to Guide Your Trip
Cultural Orientation & Immersion
Well-Crafted Ministry Options
Worshiping with a Local Church
Service Project Materials
Delicious Meals & Snacks
Purified Drinking Water
Evening Worship Meetings
Final Day Recreation
Long-Term Church Partnership Opportunity
FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What are the maximum and minimum group sizes?
Our private trips can accommodate groups as small as 4 people and as large as 50+. Reduced pricing applies for groups larger than 10 people.
2. What are the mission trip prices?
Our trip details are available on our registration page.
3. Tell me more about the church partnerships in Alaska
Each group traveling to Alaska with Thirst Missions will be partnered with a local church. We believe the local church is God’s biblical design and want each team to be an encouragement to the church partner. Our church partners are small but healthy churches doing God’s work in difficult conditions.
4. Is Alaska safe?
Yes! Even though there is a lot of poverty and need in Alaska, and it’s a long ways away, it is one of our 50 states! Great health care and modern conveniences are only a short drive away most of the time. We have staff members guiding the trip and are experts when it comes to local knowledge and ministry leadership. Safety is our #1 priority on all trips, and it’s not just lip service, we practice what we preach.
5. What denominations do you work with?
Every year we work with a wide variety of denominations from teams in the US and Canada and our base of church partners in Alaska is varied as well. We strive to match the team with an appropriate church partner. All churches are vetted ahead of time and sign a statement of faith. Please see our Statement of Faith for more details.
6. What is the trip length?
Our trips are a minimum of six days/five nights, but you are able to add additional days to your trip for an added cost. Travel days are included in the total number of trip days.
7. Do I need to take any medical precautions?
Though it’s 3,000+ miles away from the continental United States, Alaska is part of the US and no special precautions need to be taken in the form of immunizations or prescriptions. The greater concern is to dress appropriately considering the wide variability of summers in south central Alaska, which can range from 45 degrees up to 85 degrees and see frequent short rainy spells.
8. What travel documents do I need?
If you’re traveling from the United States to Alaska you only need a driver’s license. For adults traveling with minors who are not their children (i.e. youth leaders and youth groups), it’s a good idea to have the youth bring whatever ID they can along with a letter of consent to travel that is signed by both parents. If you’re traveling from Canada (or elsewhere in the world), bring a passport.
9. Is airfare included in the trip cost?
No, but the cost per person/day is all-inclusive from the time you arrive in Alaska until you depart.
Airfares vary too greatly to include in the trip cost. Each group is responsible for booking their own flights that arrive within a reasonable timeframe so as to be ready at our pickup times and on the exact trips dates registered for. We have a travel agent we work closely with if you’d like help booking your flights.
10. Can I make contact with my loved ones while on my trip?
While Alaska is in the United States and many cell plans will have at least some coverage, we strongly discourage trip participants from calling, texting, going online, or on social media on their phones during the trip. Most people use their phone as their main camera, and that’s fine – just put it in airplane mode.
The ministry and relationships built when putting our personal devices down is eye-opening. Our philosophy is no news is good news. We encourage each group leader to post trip updates and send pictures back home on behalf of each group. In addition we post pictures every day from every trip on our Facebook page at facebook.com/thirstmissions. In the case of emergencies we have open and direct lines of immediate communication on every trip.
11. I have special dietary needs. Can these be met?
There is a section on the Individual Registration form each person fills out prior to the trip in which these needs can be listed. We read these over thoroughly and pass them along to our cooks. The food on our trips is plentiful and amazing!
We do our very best to accommodate all diets and diet restrictions, but please realize we are in a different culture without all the options we have back home. Feel free to bring supplemental food options with you if this will ease the anxiety of not knowing if there will be food which fit your tastes or diet.
12. Is the $499 registration fee deducted from my final payment?
No, it’s used right away to offset a small portion of planning and preparing for your group’s trip. Please read through our generous payment policy and cancellation agreement.
13. How do I select the ministries we desire?
Each group leader will have a missions consultant from Thirst Missions assigned who will go through ministry opportunities in detail. All group leaders have scheduled conference calls to discuss the trip and are welcome to contact their trip consultants about any other questions that arise.
14. What about on-location transportation?
On-location transportation is not included in the price of the mission trip. Feel free to book your own team’s vans, SUVs, or other transport. If you’d like Thirst Mission to arrange transportation, we’d be glad to do so for $25/person/day.
15. Are any ministry materials provided?
Ministry materials are up to the teams to provide. Examples would be curriculum for VBS, sports equipment for sports outreach, and so on. Alaskan churches will have some resources that the group can use on a case-by-case basis. Most ministries require little in the way of materials. You can ask your missions consultant about suggestions for materials and ministry plans.
16. Are construction supplies included in the cost of the trip?
$40 per person will be set aside by Thirst Missions toward construction costs. Your missions consultant will give you some project and cost options—if you want to stay within the funds set aside you can, or if you’d like to do a larger project you can donate extra. All the money for supplies will be used to purchase materials which will be onsite when the group arrives.
17. Are there any additional costs?
Besides your trip cost, the only things you’ll need money for are souvenirs, church offerings, extra snacks, and money for meals at the airport.
18. How do we pay for recreation?
Payment and reservations for upgraded recreation are made by your team before your time in Alaska. Please work with your Thirst Missions Consultant or Trip leader to confirm your specific reservation.
19. Can you tell us about the food provided?
The food provided will, for the most part, be food Americans and Canadians are quite familiar with. We’ll have healthy breakfasts provided in the guest house, lunch most days will be a bagged lunch on the go, and dinners will be hearty meals served at the guest house, at the church, or at a local restaurant.
20. Can I stay in contact with people once I return home?
Yes! You can use Facebook and Instagram or email, call, or text just like you do with your friends back home. Staying in touch with new friends in Alaska is such a blessing and benefit to going and serving.
21. What are some outreach ministry ideas?
Movie nights, worship celebrations, community meals, or sports tournaments are good outreaches. If you have good outreach ideas we are certainly happy to help you make them a reality! Check out our blog for more outreach ideas.