In 1987, three college kids from Fairbanks formed the Northern Alaska Tour Company, offering Arctic Circle tours during summer breaks using a ten-passenger van. By the time they graduated the accounting and finance majors had expanded their services to include guided trips to Anaktuvuk Pass, Prudhoe Bay and Barrow with a small bus, and recently began offering flights, vehicle rentals ruggedized for the region, and overnight accommodations in former pipeline camps, amongst other services.
Nowadays, partners Matt Atkinson, Brett Carlson and Lee Kenaston are still friends, and still in business. Their humble touring company is now a “vertically integrated travel organization specializing in Alaska’s Arctic.” But their slogan and philosophy is still simple and unchanged: Sharing Alaska’s Arctic with the World. They operate year-round, and Arctic Circle tours are still the most popular. But Northern Alaska Tours now offers many different ways to do see it, from a 30-minute Fairbanks “flight-seeing” trip or an aurora-viewing outing to multi-day excursions to the “Real Alaska.”
“We recognize that travel in Alaska’s Arctic is not for everyone,” says Atkinson, Marketing Coordinator. “But for those who seek to explore ‘off-the-beaten path’ this place holds such a powerful allure, it can be a highlight of a visit to Alaska.” NATC Tour groups tend to be smaller, with 10-passenger vans and 24-passenger coaches utilized for the ground portions. The guides provide knowledgeable interpretation of natural and cultural history of the area and receive extensive professional vehicle operation training along with practical arctic survival courses.
Strong community connections come through their partnerships with organizations like KUAC which, notes Atkinson, has helped increase their profile locally. NATC also ran a bus service for students to hockey games at the Carlson Center, and for the past two years, they have pitched in for the Yukon Quest, flying more than two tons of dog food to Eagle, and driving Quest veterinarians by motor coach to Whitehorse. For more information about tours, call 907-474-8600 or 800-474-1986, or visit the website for Northern Alaska Tour Company.