On Top of The World — Flightseeing over Mt McKinley & Denali

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I’ve seen some amazing things and had some incredible thrills in my short life-time, but doing a flightseeing tour over Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park has to be one of the top 5.

For my 25 hour stint in Anchorage flightseeing (flying over the Alaska landscape in a ski or water plane) was top on my list. As luck would have it, Talkeetna Air Taxi had last minute space, were willing to honor the online discount ($60), and the weather cleared enough for us to take off.

I was one of 9 passengers, the rest were traveling in groups so that left me the dubious honor of the co-pilot cockpit seat. Pretty awesome view, just too bad I’m terribly afraid of heights, and there was a emergency door with an unlocked handle immediately at my elbow. ACK! And the pilot was pretty cute. Double ACK!

But I survived take off and stared transfixed out the window as mile after miles of woods, lakes, and distant mountains rolled by. And then we started approaching the Denali range and it was so breathtaking I almost had a heart attack.

It seemed like we were flying within 50yds of the snow clogged mountain tops with sheer rock faces falling away on each side. Apparently we were 3 miles away. And wow, did that put it in perspective. We then flew around most of Mt McKinley, including the breathtaking north face with the Denali national park plains stretching gold and green in the distance.

Words will never capture how unique this experience was, so I’ll stop trying. Just definitely take the trip if you ever get the chance!!

When I had arrived at check in, they’d told me that it was likely impossible for us to land on the glacier, but as we got up in the air, the weather steadily cleared until it was a beautiful beautiful day. So after flying around Mt McKinley, we were able to land on the “base camp” glacier where many of the climbing parties start out. We were far above the tree line (obviously) and it was eerily still and quiet up there, with no birds or noises, just massive peaks and glacial snow rising above. wow. WOW. 

Mt. McKinley glacier landing

On the flight back to the airport we flew over a massive 3 mile wide glacier that appeared to have carried half the mountain with it and was cracked with amazing blue pools. An hour and a half from our start we were back on the ground with memories and sights we’d never forget.

If you go, I highly recommend Talkeetna Air Taxi, and I definitely recommend our pilot Tyler, who offered just enough information to make it interesting not boring and did an excellent job of making sure both sides of the plane got great views and no one got sick.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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