Julie United States 2 Comments

The Thirteen Glacier Flightseeing Tour is a 70-minute tour of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve that is offered by Wrangell Mountain Air.

This flightseeing tour offers spectacular views of the Wrangell Mountains. On this tour, we flew over numerous glaciers, spotted Dall sheep clinging to the cliffs, soared over the Kennecott and Erie mines, and got close up views of the Stairway Icefall, Mount Regal, and Mount Blackburn. It was 70 minutes of awe inspiring views and one of our most memorable national park experiences.

Thirteen Glacier Flightseeing Tour in Photos

It is very hard to put into words just how awesome this experience is. Here are our photos from the flightseeing tour and these will do a much better job showing you the beauty of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park then my writing could ever do.

Our flightseeing adventure started at the tiny McCarthy Airport. We met Brendan, our pilot, who helped get us situated inside of the airplane. He gave us a quick safety briefing and then we were on our way.

McCarthy Airport

McCarthy Airport

 

Earth Trekkers Flightseeing

 

Take off was exhilarating. Immediately we were treated to awesome views over McCarthy and the McCarthy River.

McCarthy Airport Take Off

First views from the sky. Looking back to the Kennicott Glacier, McCarthy & Kennicott

For the next 70 minutes, Brendan pointed out rock glaciers, Dall sheep, mountains, glaciers, historical sights, and icefalls. It was a bit of a bumpy ride with small pockets of air turbulence, but nothing too bad. The bumping up and down of the plane sometimes made taking photos difficult, but that was also part of the fun.

Sourdough Rock Glacier

Sourdough Peak rock glacier

 Wrangell St Elias River Valley

Nizina river valley

 

Flightseeing 1

Flightseeing 2

Flightseeing 3

Cockpit View

View of the cockpit, our pilot Brendan, and Kara

 Wrangell St Elias Glacier Lake

Flightseeing 4

My favorite part of the flightseeing tour was when we were at our highest, at about 7,500 feet. At times, we were so close to the mountains that it looked like we could reach out and touch them. To look out across these peaks was amazing! But even so, we were just seeing a small fraction of this national park on this tour.

Wrangell St Elias

Wrangell St Elias Icefall

Flightseeing 5

Flightseeing 6

Alaska Flightseeing Tour

FLIGHTSEEING 8

Blue Pool

Pools of water on the glacier.

 

Wrangell St Elias National Park Photo

Flightseeing 9

Root Glacier View

View of the moraine of the Root Glacier.

 

Erie Mine

Erie Mine

 

Stairway Icefall

Top of the Stairway Icefall, the second largest icefall in the world.

 

Root Glacier

Root Glacier

The Thirteen Glacier Tour ended by flying over the historic Kennecott Mine and the massive Root Glacier.

Kennecott Mine

Kennecott Mine

And what was it like landing on a small gravel runway? Surprisingly smooth. In fact, it was less jarring than some landings on commercial airlines.

McCarthy Airport Runway

View of the McCarthy Airport from the plane.

All three of us were thrilled with the experience and so thankful that we had such great weather, especially after our cold and wet kayaking experience the day before at the Columbia Glacier.

If this sounds like something you would like to do, I highly recommend the experience. We also took a 120 minute tour with Wrangell Mountain Air and wrote a guide about what to expect on a Wrangell – St. Elias flightseeing tour, if you want to learn more.

About the Thirteen Glacier Tour

Company: Wrangell Mountain Air
Cost: $300 per person
Duration: 70 minutes

The cost of the flightseeing tour includes the shuttle service from McCarthy and Kennicott. We also tipped our pilot.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Wrangell Mountain Air also offers other flightseeing tours of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve. To learn more, read our Guide to Flightseeing Tours of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park.

Arrange your flightseeing trip in advance, because they can sell out. We arranged our flightseeing trip two months in advance and had no issue getting the date and time we wanted.

Flightseeing trips can be cancelled during bad weather. If your flight is cancelled, there is a chance that it can be rescheduled later in the day or the following day, depending on availability. If your flight is cancelled due to bad weather, you will get a refund of your payment.

Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It gets a little chilly inside the plane once you get up to 7,000 feet.

For more information about Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, check out our guide to the Top 10 Things to Do in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve.


If you have any questions about taking a Wrangell St. Elias National Park flightseeing tour, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Alaska:

WRANGELL – ST. ELIAS: Wrangell – St. Elias Flightseeing Tour: What to Expect & Is It Worth It?
WRANGELL – ST. ELIAS:  Bagley Icefield and Mount St. Elias Flightseeing Tour
WRANGELL – ST. ELIAS:  Top 10 Things to Do in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve
DENALI: 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Eielson Visitor Center in Denali
DENALI:  Top 10 Hikes in Denali National Park
KATMAI:  Complete Guide to the Brooks Falls Trail and Viewing Platforms
KENAI FJORDS:  How to Hike the Harding Icefield Trail
VALDEZ: Columbia Glacier Kayaking Tour: The Complete Guide
ANCHORAGE TO VALDEZ:  Driving from Anchorage to Valdez: Best Things to Do, Map & Photos
ALASKA TRAVEL GUIDE: Our Travel Guides and Articles about Alaska

Read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide.

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Flightseeing Wrangell St Elias National Park

 

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Grace
    Grace

    Hi Julie,
    What lens did you use for taking pictures while on the plane? I usually stick with my 24-70mm and it really doesn’t come off my camera unless I really need my telephoto lens. Did u have to switch lenses at all ? Thanks !

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      We had two cameras going on this flightseeing tour. One camera had a 24-70 mm lens and the other camera had a 16-35 mm lens. Both Tim and I were taking photos at the same time. So, the photos in this post, and our other flightseeing posts, have photos with both lenses. As far as which lens was better, it didn’t seem to matter much. With the wide angle, we were more likely to get part of the plane in the photo (which sometimes got cropped out later). And the 24-70 mm lens allowed us to zoom in closer to some features. So, I think you are fine with the 24-70. Cheers, Julie

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