Glacier Landing on Mt. McKinley

Talkeetna, Alaska is the departure location for climbers attempting to ascend Mt. McKinley, and Talkeetna is a great place to visit enroute to Denali as well. On a recent trip to Talkeetna my friends and I took a flightseeing trip of Denali National Park which included a landing on Mt. McKinley’s Ruth Glacier. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to do some flight seeing. The sun was shining high in the clear blue sky, and Mt. McKinley loomed in the distance. Clear as a bell, the sunlight sparkled off of her snowcapped peaks only magnifying her natural beauty and grandeur. As we walked towards K2’s Talkeetna office, I could feel the anticipation and excitement building inside me. This was going to be my first time ever flying in a small fixed-wing plane. As my friends and I completed the check-in process I began to notice that although I was still really excited, some of that excitement had turned into slight apprehension but as soon as we lifted off the nervousness quickly was forgotten.

Tony, our pilot, told us that we should be on the lookout for wildlife on the crests and ridges below. We spotted a few mountain goats as we flew by and I couldn’t help but take a million pictures of everything as we traveled towards the Sheldon Amphitheater. After a super smooth landing on the Ruth Glacier my friends and I hopped out and walked out onto the glacier. As I headed away from the plane I realized just how small I was in comparison to the rugged mountain peaks surrounding the glacier. The feeling was somewhat short lived as one of my friends decided it would be fun to have an impromptu snowball fight. Tony laughed and was a great sport about taking tons of pictures of us.

On the flight back Tony pointed out the world’s deepest mountain gorge and we saw many more glacial filled valleys and striking vistas. I am a life-long Alaskan and I can say that the McKinley Glacier Landing tour is without a doubt one of the best adventures I’ve ever had. Mt. McKinley in all its majesty never ceases to amaze me. I would highly recommend this flight seeing tour to friends and visitors to Alaska.

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