My second morning in Alaska was hectic and found me frantically packing up my room at the Princess Fairbanks Hotel in time to catch the 8am train to Denali, where we would be staying at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge located just outside Denali National Park. As soon as I boarded the glass-domed train and settled in with cooked-to-order blueberry pancakes, I completely relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I was so relaxed that I completely forgot to get nervous for my helicopter ride with glacier landing excursion I had scheduled for that afternoon — until I was reminded of that day’s activities.
Well, as soon as I realized that it was helicopter day, the nerves resumed. I had flown in a helicopter once before, on the Big Island of Hawaii. My Hawaii flight was awesome — we hovered over the mouth of the active Kilauea volcano — but kind of scary as you’re just out in this vast landscape in a little plane that has a constant if subtle shaking motion.
My ride in Alaska was just as spectacular. I went with Era Helicopters, and our pilot Niko was enthusiastic and funny that I felt at ease immediately. We flew for about 20 minutes and then landed on Yanert Icefield, a glacier that’s actually outside Denali National Park. We spent 20 minutes walking around the glacier (we were wearing special boots — it kind of feels like icy, packed snow) , and then we got back in the helicopter for a 20-minute flight back. Even though it was about 30F on the glacier, I didn’t feel cold because I was so enthralled.
The photos in the slideshow below do a much better job explaining this amazing experience better than words ever could…
Comped but never compromised: I’m on an Alaska Twitter Press Trip with Princess Cruises, but I’m free to write whatever I want.