A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 36°/52°/Mostly sunny
Fairbanks: 28°/53°/Partly sunny
Flightseeing offers extraordinary views of breathtaking landscapes. Find out how to book your flightseeing tour.
The lure of seeing a really big mountain -- at 20,320 feet, Denali is the tallest on the continent -- up close draws tourists to flightseeing businesses in the Denali National Park area.
The engine roars, the bush plane shudders; it's take-off time. The world outside begins to crawl by, then it goes faster, faster, before dissolving into a blur of hurtling colors. Then you're up, up, leaving the ground in a dizzying pitch and, within moments, you're sailing toward a range of distant mountains.
Fresh air for the eyes
One summer, I had the opportunity to take a flightseeing tour over the Cathedral Peaks of the Chilkat Mountain Range in Southeast Alaska. In the course of that hour-long flight I became an addict. In three months I took 10 flights over Cathedral Peaks, and I have since taken many more all over the state. I just plug in my iPod and allow the soundtrack of my bird's-eye view to take over.
To see Alaska from the window of a Cessna or Twin Otter is not just a rush to the senses; it's also a great way to lay your eyes upon the vast amount of unscathed land that no train or automobile can reach. The sky-stroking peaks, the miles of ice, the flats of tundra riddled with herds of caribou and musk ox -- it's all breathtaking and potentially life-changing.
Every town or village that has an airstrip also offers air-taxi and sightseeing services.
The peak of Denali is the most popular sight in this region, but the nearby Alaska Range, the Great Gorge and Ruth Glacier are almost as stunning. Also noteworthy are the notorious Mount Redoubt volcano and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. A real treat is to take a floatplane from Anchorage, fly around for a couple of hours and land on a remote lake. It's a good time to get out and stretch the legs and get a better view of all that you've witnessed from the air.
The top sights in Southeast are Glacier Bay, the 1,500 square miles of the Malaspina Glacier (it's so large it can only be seen in its entirety from space), the ice fields of the Tongass National Forest, and the 75-mile-wide Hubbard Glacier
Equally enchanting, but in an entirely different way, is an air retreat over the tundra of northern Alaska and the Arctic Circle. Long ago the great sheets of ice that stretched from Siberia to the interior of Alaska melted, and what's left is a haunting and flat, treeless, cold desert, chiefly inhabited by bear, caribou and musk ox. In the fall, the long, green tundra grass atop the layer of permafrost turns an array of colors. n
Rust's Flying Service
Check out the bears from the air or on the ground as they feast on salmon, or go fishing in areas only accessible by plane.
As the name suggests, Denali Air specializes in flightseeing tours of Mount McKinley and Denali National Park. The twin-engine planes leave from the company's air strip on the Parks Highway just south of the national park entrance.
Based at Anchorage's Lake Hood, the largest floatplane base in the world, K2 offers affordable flightseeing trips past the Alaska Range foothills, over the Ruth Glacier and the Great Gorge and up close to Mount McKinley.
Talkeetna Air Taxi
The Alaska Range is a favorite destination for many hikers, climbers and backcountry skiers. Talkeetna Air offers full support by giving access and advice. Or stay in the sky and get a raven's-eye view of Mount McKinley, or follow the Iditarod racers from Anchorage to Nome.
For floating, flying, fishing, hunting, horseback riding and flightseeing, Regal Air takes off from Anchorage and can set you down just about anywhere.
Wrangell Mountain Air
Planes leave from a base of operations in McCarthy. From there, the aerial view of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is testimony to the wonders of nature. Land and go camping for a week to get a taste of what it's really like to rough it.