PHOTOS: Awesome heli-tour to Denali w/lunch at Sheldon Mountain House!

In Adventure, Lodging, Parks by scott

Color me amazed. We love flying up to the Sheldon Mountain House, overlooking the Don Sheldon Amphitheater and the Ruth Glacier…literally in the shadow of Denali.That would be Denali….upper left. HA

Usually, that’s aboard a K2 Aviation plane—a Beaver or an Otter….departing from Talkeetna. But there’s another way to visit: by helicopter.

Our pilot Chad met us at the pad in Talkeetna. We piled in to the A-Star 350 chopper: seven souls on board including the pilot. Alpha Aviation runs this trip: up to the Sheldon Mountain House for lunch, then back. But it’s completely different than in a fixed-wing aircraft.

We started out flying low over the Susitna and Chulitna Rivers, then got an up-close look at the raging river that comes out from the Ruth Glacier. Then we began following the slope of the glacier up the mountain. We went over to the right to see the chaning colors in the alpine tundra. Then, we went across the glacier and started flying up close against the raw granite face of the mountains. Finally, we followed a narrow valley up to a hanging glacier and then….BOOM ….over the top into the Don Sheldon Amphitheater.

It didn’t hurt that it was a STUNNING day for flying….just a few clouds in the sky.

Robert Sheldon met us at the chopper—and he gave us a good rundown of the history: his dad, Don Sheldon, staked a claim in the park so they could build a hut. It’s an incredible vantage point to view the icy world of Denali and all the mountains around it.

Lunch is included.

Since Robert was there, we got a sneak peak at the super-deluxe Sheldon Mountain Chalet. YES, we had to take our shoes off. NO, we did not get to spend the night and have the crew fix us dinner. THAT’S a different tour.


The heli-picnic is $695 per person. Dress in layers. Bring your camera. Prepare to be awe-struck. Call Alpha Air at (907)290-8878. Alpha Aviation has other cool heli-tours, including mountain biking with heli-support and a variety of flightseeing adventures.

I really enjoyed flying with my new chopper buddies, Erin Kirkland of AKontheGo, Fernando, Joe Meyer of Traverse Alaska , Ashleigh, Beniece and our awesome pilot/guide, Chad Emswiler.


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