This summer, Alaska Wildland Adventures celebrates its 39th anniversary! The company began operating trips in 1977, first under the name Alaska Campout Adventures. Our first trip was a tenting safari that traveled from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Chugach National Forest to Denali National Park. In the early years, the company felt fortunate to take fifty to sixty people a year on adventuresome trips throughout Alaska. Though we still operate our original tenting safari (now called the Alaska Explorer Safari), most of our trips now feature cabin overnights and an authentic Alaskan ambiance in comfortable lodge settings.
In 1987, we changed our name to Alaska Wildland Adventures. There was a surge in interest in travel to Alaska, and more people wanted to vacation in a participatory style. Over the years, one small group at a time, we were able to grow to provide new and unique Alaska travel opportunities.
In addition to operating our own trips, we operate trips for Lindblad Expeditions, World Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy and Audubon Nature Odysseys. We also work with a number of national and international tour companies, such as: Glacier Bay Cruiseline, GORPTravel, Alaska Unusual, and Alaska Discovery.
Over the years we have hosted a number of affinity groups, directly and through travel planners. These include: National Trust Group (Australia), Beaver Lake Nature Center, National Audubon Society, Maine Audubon Society, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Florida Audubon Society, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Delaware Nature Society, Schuylkill Valley Nature Center, Dallas Museum of Natural History, Brandywine Valley Association, Cincinnati Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, Cleveland Zoo, Louisiana Nature Center and Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Our main office is in Girdwood, Alaska, a scenic mountain community 40 miles south of Anchorage. We maintain a two-building office on two scenic acres that adjoin an undeveloped greenway. From our office windows, we view beaver ponds, nesting waterfowl, occasional moose and bear viewings, and a snow-clad mountain backdrop. This probably has something to do with why we are so excited about Alaska when we talk with you on the phone! We have 11 year-round staff and 75 seasonal staff at our summer operations.
Kirk Hoessle is the President and CEO (Chief Exploration Officer) of Alaska Wildland Adventures. He currently is a member of the Board of Directors for the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA), Alaska's 1,000 member travel trade association. From 2012 through 2016, he was one of 32 travel industry leaders appointed to the US Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, advising the US government on issues and policy related to travel and tourism. In October 2015, Kirk was awarded the 2015 Stan Stephens Stewardship Award by ATIA. This award commemorates the passion and dedication that Stan Stephens lived by in his commitment to safeguard Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and it honors Kirk’s work in protecting wild Alaska and sharing its beauty in a responsible and sustainable way. Previously in his work, Kirk was a founding member and two-term President of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association, Alaska's voice for ecotourism. In the past, he has also served on the Governor of Alaska's Advisory Board of the Trails and Recreation Access for Alaskan's program (TRAAK).
Kirk began leading trips in 1982, when the company only operated one trip. His involvement grew into a managerial role, and then onto the role of owner/operator in 1987. Prior to his involvement in Alaska tourism, Kirk directed the Youth Conservation Corp program in Tanacross, Alaska, was a partner in an interpretive planning and design firm, and he also helped direct and formulate environmental education programs for elementary and high school students.