This is the ultimate Alaskan adventure, suitable for all ages. This Skagway Tour includes a helicopter tour to the remote Denver Glacier, where you will be dropped off for your own dog mushing experience on real snow. Snow pack atop the glacier allows for summer-long adventures, where you get to experience the life of an Iditarod musher.
This tour includes approximately 25 minutes of flight time on the helicopter, and nearly an hour on the glacier at the mushing camp. Camera, jacket and sunglasses recommended. There will be an additional $100 (+ tax) fee for persons weighing over 250 pounds.
Tour Description: Your tour starts when you're picked up near your cruise ship dock (or downtown) by a friendly and uniformed Temsco employee who will drive you to their headquarters, less than a mile away. You will then be shown a safety video and outfitted with stylish safety boots and a sporty safety vest. You and your group will then be lined up on the helicopter pad and loaded into your own fancy helicopter. Once inside, you will buckle in and place state-of-the-art headphones on your ears. The headphones will allow you to hear and communicate with your skilled pilot. In total, you will spend about 25 minutes flying in the helicopter, so your flight to the dog camp may be around 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes depending on weather and a variety of other factors. Make no mistake, you will have a few laughs on the flight before you land on the glacier, where the dog camp is situated. After getting off your helicopter, you will have time to look at dogs and perhaps even see some adorable little Alaskan husky puppies. Rest assured, they are all good boys, yes they are. This is when the excitement really begins because you get on a sled and the huskies will pull you all over the snow-covered glacier. You will spend about 55 minutes on the glacier. It will be something you will never forget. When you're done with your sled ride, you will get to the choppa and fly back to the heliport. You will then have the option to be transported back to your ship or Downtown Skagway. Either way, you will undoubtedly start sharing your dog sledding on social media, making everyone you know back at home very jealous, especially if they're at work.
Port: Skagway, Alaska
Stand on a living glacier, and enjoy a helicopter tour featuring dozens more. This Skagway Tour includes a 40-minute helicopter tour where you will get up close and personal with ancient glaciers, towering waterfalls, and the bottomless depths of the deepest fjord in the world. You will spend another 40 minutes touring a living glacier on foot with an experienced guide who will show you features such as crevasses, moulins, and crystal-blue glacial pools.
Before your flight, you will be equipped with glacier boots and a safety vest, and then shown a short video designed to familiarize you with all necessary safety precautions. This tour is recommended for all ages. Persons over 250 pounds will be charged an additional $100 (+tax). Infants up to 23 months are free. Sunglasses, a camera, and a jacket are recommended.
Tour Description: Your tour starts by being picked up by a uniformed Temsco driver, next to the cruise ship dock or downtown (your ticket outlines your pickup location). When you arrive at Temsco, you will be outfitted with glacier boots and shown a brief safety video. You and your group will then be led to the helicopter landing pad and loaded into the chopper. Once you are safely buckled into your seat, you will put on a pair of high-tech headphones so you can easily communicate with your experienced pilot. You will spend 40 minutes in the air and 40 minutes on the glacier. Your flight will be customized to the day's weather and pilot preference. When you land on the glacier, you will be met by a glacier expert who will safely show you around the ancient ice, pointing out features such as crevasses, moulins, and seracs. Glaciers are literally alive and always in motion, so your experience will be unique. There will be ample time to take photos and have a few laughs with family and friends. Be sure to keep an eye out for ice worms!
Glacier Fun Facts: If you’re taking a Skagway helicopter excursion, you probably want to know a few things before you go. What exactly is a glacier? In short, it’s a massive chunk of ice formed by the accumulation of snow. As snow accumulates at higher elevations, it compresses into dense ice and begins to flow downhill. This means that glaciers only form when more snow falls than melts. In fact, it takes 100 feet of snow to create one foot of glacial ice. Wow.
During the last ice age which ended about 12,000 years ago, far more snow fell than melted every year. Glaciers became larger and larger. The glacier that covered Skagway was over a mile thick! That is a whole lot of ice.
Today, the planet is warming at a very high rate, especially during the last 75 years. Because of this, snow is melting faster than it can accumulate, which means glaciers are receding. The heavy, dense ice still flows downhill but the overall amount of ice declines every year. Still, the glaciers are so large that it will still take a long time for many of them to melt entirely.
There are 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. Only 10 of them are advancing. One is the Hubbard Glacier, about 90 miles west of Skagway. The Hubbard Glacier is also a tidewater glacier, which means it can be seen calving as it advances. Calving is when a tidewater glacier breaks apart and large chunks of ice fall into the water. People on Skagway excursions enjoy watching glaciers calve because it makes a loud noise and is very exciting.
Even though the glacier that covered Skagway has been gone for nearly 12,000 years, the effects of this massive piece of ice are still being felt. The ice covering Skagway was so heavy that it compressed the ground and bedrock underneath. Because of this, Skagway is rising between one and two inches every year. This process is called isostatic rebound.
When you consider the fact that the Klondike Gold Rush was around 124 years ago, this means that Skagway has risen about 17 feet since that time! Indeed, photos from the Gold Rush show that the high water line was near what is not the middle of town. Science sure is something!
What glacier does the Skagway helicopter excursion visit? Whenever you visit a place or geographical feature, it’s interesting to know what it’s called so you can tell people, “I took a Skagway helicopter excursion to the (name here) glacier.”
Most Skagway helicopter excursions land on the Meade Glacier, which is located only a few miles east of town. Why is it called the Meade Glacier? Nobody knows. Perhaps the person that named it after his beloved Meade Notebook from grade school. Maybe it was named after some guy named Billy Meade. Feel free to use your imagination.
What is known is that the Meade Glacier is very pretty and one of the largest glaciers on the Juneau Ice Field.
What is the Juneau Ice Field? It’s a field of ice, silly! But seriously, the Juneau Ice Field is a 1,500 square mile field of glacial ice from which many of the most famous glaciers extend. The Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau is also a part of the Juneau Ice Field. This means that it extends all the way from Downtown Juneau to Skagway. That’s enough ice to keep a cooler full of beer cold for 100 billion years!
What makes the ice flow downhill? Even though the glacial ice is very dense and heavy, it is still water. What does water do? It flows downhill! This means that glaciers are always moving because the solid water is flowing downhill.
Why does the ice flow downhill? Gravity. Gravity is a natural force that makes things attract other things. The planet earth is big but the glacier is small by comparison, so the glacier flows toward the mass of the earth. This means that glacial ice is constantly being replenished. So, while a glacier can be 30,000 years old, ice still only takes around 250 years to flow from top to bottom.
Not all glaciers are from the same time period. While larger glaciers like the Meade Glacier and Hubbard Glacier are quite old, some glaciers were formed relatively recently, during an era called the Little Ice Age.
The Little Ice Age was not truly an “ice age” but it extended from around 1300 to 1850. However, experts agree that it was cold enough to make glaciers advance and for some to form. When you’re traveling through Southeast Alaska and see small glaciers at high elevations that look relatively small, it was likely formed during the Little Ice Age.
In Skagway, if you look southwest across the fjord, you will see a glacier on top of Mount Harding. This glacier is creatively named Harding Glacier. Both the mountain and the glacier are named after President Warren Harding, who knew nothing about glaciers but happened to visit Skagway. Since he is the only president to visit Skagway, he got some stuff named after him.
Anyway, the little glacier at the top of the mountain was formed during the Little Ice Age. Harding Glacier is quickly receding and will eventually dry up entirely if the climate keeps warming.
What kind of helicopter will I ride in? There are a lot of different kinds of helicopters. When you take a Skagway helicopter excursion, it’s normal to wonder what kind of helicopter you’re flying in.
The helicopters used by Temsco for their Skagway helicopter tours are A-Star Helicopters, which are also known as Airbus AS350s in other parts of the world. But you’re in Alaska, so it’s called an A-Star.
These helicopters (also called “choppers” by cool people) have a single-engine and three-blade primary rotor, whatever that means. They are very maneuverable and quick. A-Stars are also easy to start up and switch off, which is nice. Because they are one of the largest non-military helicopters, they are ideal for hauling a half dozen tourists to a glacier.
A-Star helicopters are one of the most popular commercial aircraft in the world. And you get to ride in one! They are routinely used by law enforcement, medical teams, and those nightly news traffic guys that fly around telling you about bad traffic and highway police chases. A-Stars are also very reliable at high altitudes, which is good when you’re flying over Alaska mountain ranges to land on large chunks of ice.
If you’re undecided whether to take a Skagway helicopter tour while in port, remember the immortalized words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 movie Predator when he said, “GET TO THE CHOPPA!”
You won’t regret it.
Marvel at Alaska's Crown Jewel, Glacier Bay, on this one-hour flight that features pristine wilderness, frequent wildlife spottings, and dozens of glaciers. The East Arm of Glacier Bay is known for its glaciation, and your pilot Paul will provide you with closeups of both land-based and tidewater glaciers on this incredible Skagway tour.
No weight restrictions on this tour. Infants up to two years old are free. Sunglasses and camera recommended. Paul can accommodate groups and families of up to eight people on one flight. Landings are also available for an additional $75 per person, so if you are interested please inquire about this option.
Tour Description: You will meet your pilot, Paul, at the Skagway International Airport. Paul will assist you as you step into his custom DeHavilland Beaver for your flight over Glacier Bay. Once inside the airplane, you will buckle up and put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones so that you can hear and talk to your friendly pilot. This is a good thing because Paul will share a number of humorous stories guaranteed to provide you and your party with a few laughs. Every flight over Glacier Bay is unique as glaciers are living bodies of ice and always in constant motion. It's not uncommon to see wildlife and Paul will safely ensure you get a good look when possible. If you're lucky enough to enjoy a landing, you will have an opportunity to get out of the Beaver and explore for a while, taking pictures and enjoying the remote beauty of Alaska's pristine wilderness. When your flight is over, you will land safely back at the airport with a big smile on your face.
What exactly is flightseeing?
Flightseeing is another way of saying that a person is getting on an airplane to fly over some interesting stuff so that passengers can see it. There are a number of reasons why a person might go on a flight. It might be to visit family during Christmas or for a vacation. Soldiers fly in airplanes during combat missions and businessmen fly in airplanes to make money.
When you travel to Alaska, you should go on a flight to look at the fantastic scenery. Sure, everything is very pretty while you’re standing on the ground but when you see mountains and glaciers from an airplane it will blow your mind right out of your skull. It’s that pretty. You will also quickly learn that you are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains, ice, and the ocean.
What kind of airplane is used on the tour?
The airplane is called a DeHavilland Beaver. The DeHavilland Beaver is the most famous bush plane in all of Alaska because it’s safe, reliable, and perfect for flightseeing. Pilot Paul’s Beaver is fully customized for flightseeing. It is very comfortable and comes equipped with headphones for every passenger. This allows Paul and his passengers to talk and tell stories and laugh at funny jokes.
Is the Glacier Bay flightseeing tour safe?
Paul has been giving flightseeing tours for decades. He’s conducted thousands of flights. These facts alone show that flightseeing with Mountain Flying Service is safe.
Consider this: Most people traveling to Alaska live in or near a metropolitan area. They drive on the Interstate and local roads for hours every day. When you consider how many people are in accidents every day, the logical conclusion would be to say it’s not safe. But everyone keeps driving anyway.
Flying in Alaska is no different. Skagway residents often have to fly to Juneau in a tiny airplane. Some locals call these airplanes “puddle jumpers” because Skagway people have a good sense of humor. So, you see, flying in small airplanes is a part of everyday life in Alaska, just like driving in traffic is an everyday part of life in the Lower 48.
What can you tell me about Glacier Bay?
Some people call Glacier Bay the Crown Jewel of Alaska. That’s because its unspoiled beauty is arguably the most striking and beautiful in the entire state of Alaska. And that’s saying something!
Glacier Bay is 3.3 million acres of rugged Alaskan beauty. As you fly over Glacier Bay, you will see endless mountains, countless glaciers, deep fjords, and pristine coastlines. Mush of Glacier Bay is a temperate rainforest filled with all sorts of animals that have thrived there for a very long time.
Glacier Bay is also part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site that includes Kluane Provincial Park, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Tatshenshini-Alsek. This is one of the World’s largest international protected areas and it’s larger than the state of New Jersey! It smells a lot better too.
Glacier Bay is commonly divided into two sections, the East Arm and the West Arm. When you look at these two arms, it looks like there are actually two bays. However, when Glacier Bay was named, the southern end was nothing more than a massive tidewater glacier. Then it melted into what you see today.
Some of the largest mountains in North America are found in the West Arm of Glacier Bay. On any Glacier Bay flightseeing tour, guests get to see tidewater glaciers, which are glaciers that end in the water.
Sometimes unusual formations appear on glaciers, like glacial arches, but glaciers are always moving so these features don’t last long. You could travel to Alaska every year and actually see the glaciers change. That is simply amazing.
Do people see wildlife on the Glacier Bay flightseeing tour?
Absolutely. But remember that it’s not a wildlife tour. The goal is to see the beauty and majesty of Glacier Bay, so seeing wildlife is an added bonus. What kind of animals might you see on your Glacier Bay flightseeing excursion?
Mountain Goats - When you fly over mountains in Alaska, there’s always a chance to mountain goats. Makes sense.
Moose - As you fly over muskeg and meadows surrounded by trees, look for moose. This is the kind of terrain moose like because it’s where they eat and find mates.
Bears - It’s possible to see a black or brown bear just about anywhere, even on a glacier. There is a variety of bear sometimes spotted in Glacier Bay called a glacier bear. These are actually black bears that have a gray or blonde color morph. They are very rare. If you see a glacier bear, you are very lucky and should tell all of your friends about it.
Where does the airplane land?
Paul offers landings for an affordable additional fee. There are a number of places to land, depending on the time of year.
During the spring, it’s often possible to land right on top of a glacier. Paul’s Beaver can be outfitted with skis, which allows him to plop that puppy down right on the snow-covered glacier. It’s like something out of an IMAX movie.
During the summer and fall months, guests can land on the beach. This is especially exciting on flights to the Pacific Coast near Yakutat where the Glacier Bay plateau descends to the mighty ocean.
Paul arranges custom flights to this area with fishermen who like to have the best Alaskan fishing experience possible. He lands his Beaver right next to the Alsek River so that anglers can catch king salmon in the summer and coho salmon in the fall.
Flightseeing guests who want to experience something truly unique and off the beaten path should consider a flight over Glacier Bay that includes a landing. Everyone on the cruise ship will be jealous.
How many glaciers are there in Glacier Bay?
There are more than 1,000 glaciers in Glacier Bay. That’s a whole lot of ice. Margaritas anyone? When you take a Glacier Bay flightseeing excursion, you have a chance to see some of Glacier Bay’s more famous glaciers. Let’s talk about a few of them.
Johns Hopkins Glacier - This glacier is very big. In fact, it is about one mile wide and 200 feet deep where it meets the water. This is also the only advancing tidewater glacier in Glacier Bay. This is one of those glaciers that looks like it’s covered in something gray or black. That is debris, actually rock, carved from the mountain as the glacier flows downhill. Crazy!
Every year, this glacier flows downhill at a rate of about 3,000 feet. That’s almost 8 feet per day!
Grand Pacific Glacier - This glacier is prominent when you fly to the Alsek River and land on the beach. The glacier is more than a mile wide at the terminus. There is a large amount of rock and debris on this glacier which makes parts of it look “dirty,” as people sometimes say.
Margerie Glacier - This is arguably the most famous glacier in Glacier Bay because cruise ships travel up the East Arm so that passengers can get a close look at it. It’s even more impressive from a Skagway flightseeing excursion.
The Marjorie Glacier is about 200 feet high at its terminus. As big chunks of ice fall into the ocean, it makes a tremendous sound. This is called calving for some reason. The glacier is also 100 feet below the water, which makes it 300 feet total. That’s a big piece of ice for sure.
Muir Glacier - This glacier used to be the most famous glacier in the National Park. It was a beautiful tidewater glacier named after the famous naturalist. But it is fully grounded now and no longer a tidewater glacier. The retreat of the glacier began in 1899 and the calving rates were extreme.
If you’re ready to book a Skagway flightseeing excursion, you will learn a lot more about glaciers. Better yet, you will get to see them with your own eyes before they all recede just like the Muir Glacier.
Mendenhall Glacier Discovery - 30 minutes of heli time (15 mins each way), 20-25 minutes on glacier with guides $319.00
Pilot’s Choice Tour - 50 minutes of heli time, 2 landings, 15 minutes at each landing (pilot is guide) $469.00
Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier - 30 minutes heli time (15 mins each way), 1 hour at camp which includes 20-25 mins of mushing $549.00