Snowy Glacial Adventures in Alaska – Part 1
Did you know that Alaska is one of a very short list of destinations in the world where you can actually land on a glacier? Where you can walk across a vast field of glacial snow, perhaps even make a snow angel or two, or throw a snowball at your brother?
And where in Alaska will one find an adventure of such glacial proportions? In Talkeetna, gate-way to flightseeing tours and glacial landings in Denali National Park. Talkeetna is exactly where we found ourselves one April weekend, for a high-flying glacial adventure into Denali, past Mount McKinley, and straight to an honest to goodness glacier.
Are you ready to fly with us?
Talkeetna Alaska – The Adventure Begins
Talkeetna, Alaska is the gate-way for over 1,000 adventurous Mount McKinley climbers each year. This adventure isn’t about climbing Mount McKinley, though. It’s about flight-seeing in Denali National Park, flying past Mount McKinley, and a snowy landing on top of a glacier.
Our adventure begins in Talkeetna, the gateway to Mount McKinley adventures as well as some of the finest sport fishing, ATV and boat tours and guided river rafting adventures in Alaska. Oh, and it’s the inspiration for the TV series, Northern Exposure.
Yep! This one-street town is chock full of Alaskan charm and outdoor adventure opportunities, though mostly in the warmer summer months. In April, well, there’s still lots of snow on the ground. And so this particular Talkeetna adventure is all about flightseeing and eating, with a little snowshoeing on the side.
Did I mention eating? When in Talkeetna, you really should stop for a meal at The Talkeetna Roadhouse, the recipient of a 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. You might also recognize this place if you’re a fan of Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. Yep, Adam’s eaten here too. But enough about food. Let’s get flying!
Up Up and Away With Talkeetna Air Taxi
Talkeetna Air Taxi – also known at the Glacier Landing Company – is where this flightseeing adventure is about to take off. Or not. The Alaskan weather in April didn’t get the “all clear” message today. The flight path is fogged in. Be patient. It might clear!
Finally! The sun has emerged. Let’s get this airplane up in the sky before Mother Nature changes her mind again. All aboard the airplane.
Headphones on. Sunglasses in place. Microphones checked. Flight deck ready. It’s a big thumbs up from our Talkeetna Air pilot. This flight-seeing adventure is ready for take-off!
Denali National Park & Mount McKinley Bound
What a perfect April day for a fly-by over stunning scenery. The flight adventure begins over a snow-covered Boreal forest. But soon, so very soon, everything begins to change.
The landscape below quickly transitions from snow covered forests to a time frozen in snow and ice. Snow capped mountain tops begin to appear on the horizon.
And just like that, you are flying across the Alaska Range, past expansive icy views and straight into the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier. Flying past blue tinged glacial snow balanced high above stony walls of granite.
And suddenly, there it is! Mount McKinley peaking out from behind the clouds. A rare, almost-cloud-free glimpse of this towering mountain.
Our flight-seeing tour continues past Mount McKinley, and on into the Don Sheldon Amphitheater. Hang on, everyone! This plane’s going down for a glacier landing!
Snow Fun On Top of A Glacier
All the way down through the clouds to the snowy glacier beneath. Everyone dressed warm for some snow fun on top of a glacier covered in freshly fallen snow? Great, because we’ve been cleared to exit this plane!
Thirty glorious, snowy minutes on top of a glacier high up in Denali National Park. Time for a rare experience. Time for an adventure of glacial proportions!
Time for a glacial adventure where snow angels are made, and snow balls are thrown. Time to create memories sure to be remembered for many years to come.
Ok everyone, time’s up! Let’s load up and head back to base. The spectacular views are far from finished, though. Keep an keen eye watching out the windows on the flight back to Talkeetna. Who knows what you might see on the way back!
Are those tents down below? Yes, really, those are tents pitched in the middle of a snowy trail high up in Denali. Climbers on their way to somewhere, but where, we do not know.
That’s all folks! This flightseeing adventure is a wrap. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
Tips and Tidbits to A Denali Flight-Seeing Tour
Are you ready to plan your own Denali and Mount McKinley flightseeing tour? Here’s a few tips and tidbits to consider.
- Talkeetna is about two and a half hours north of Anchorage.
- Flightseeing tours are offered year round.
- Be prepared for weather delays. Possibly a cancellation. This Alaska weather is fickle!
- Dress warm and bring sunglasses. These aren’t the warmest planes, for sure!
- Consider springing extra to land on the glacier. It will be the highlight.
- You will need to purchase a National Park Pass if planning on a glacier landing.
- They aren’t the only game in town, but Talkeetna Air Taxi is ranked #1 for Activities in Talkeetna by TripAdvisor.
And don’t forget to stop and enjoy the local ambiance of Talkeetna!
Denali & Glaciers – Your Next Adventure?
Yes, this was one adventure of glacial proportions, indeed! Definitely well worth the three-hour fog and poor weather delay. What do you think of our flightseeing adventure?
Have you flown in a small prop plane to an otherwise inaccessible site with amazing vistas? Would you do a flightseeing tour into Denali National Park to see Mt. McKinley? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Check out our other Alaska Adventures:
- Up Close With Portage Glacier – A Cross Country Ski Trek in Alaska – Part 2 of Snowy Glacial Adventures
- Alyeska Resort – Your Next Ski Destination?
I’m on vacation this week, experiencing a wild and wonderful dream destination, straight from my bucket list. I will be off the grid, and unlikely to respond until my return, but rest assured I’ll be back, chock full of more wonders of Mother Nature to share.
All images from C.Biederman