Landing on the Glaciers Trip to Denali National Park

Sushma Malhotra
Who does not want to go on cruises? I always wanted and waited long enough to get an opportunity and travel on a cruise. The Alaska Cruise was like a dream come true for me. In August 2018, I along with my husband went on a southbound Alaska Glacier cruise- Voyage of the Glacier Cruise in Alaska-Princess. This cruise had two options, Northbound Alaska Cruise and the Southbound Alaska Cruise. We preferred the Southbound Alaska cruise starting from Whittier near Anchorage. Southbound Alaska cruises have fewer days at sea as compared to the Northbound one. This allowed us to spend more days in Alaska ports or National Glacier Parks and experience other excursions in nature. 
Most cruise lines operating Southbound Glacier Cruises offer these cruise tours from Anchorage and our cruise was starting from Whittler, Anchorage. Therefore, we flew to Anchorage and stayed there for two days. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, is in the south-central part of the state on the Cook Inlet. Anchorage is known for its cultural sites, including the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which displays traditional crafts, stages dances, and presents replicas of dwellings from the area’s indigenous groups. The city is also a gateway to nearby wilderness areas and mountains including the Denali National Park , Chugach, Kenai and Talkeetna. 

We decided to visit Denali National Park, which is a home to a variety of plant and animal life, and a variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals.

It is also home to a number of unique geological features, including Mount Denali, which is the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet above sea level. Denali National Park and Preserve, formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park, is an American national park and preserve located in Interior Alaska, centered on Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Denali National Park and Preserve includes the central, highest portion of the Alaska Range, together with many of the glaciers and glacial valleys running southwards out of the range. I was amazed to learn that the glaciers cover about 16% of the 6 million acres of Denali National Park and Preserve. 

The word Denali means "the high one" in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. We wanted to experience the stunning beauty of the area by taking a ride in the helicopter.

There were various flight companies that arrange the glacier landing tours via helicopter with expert pilots. We booked a flight with one of the companies and boarded the helicopter with one more couple as the helicopter could accommodate only four passengers along with the pilot. As the helicopter flew high the pilot pointed out wildlife below and provided information about the area and plant life. 
I was scared, apprehensive and even nervous to think about the glacial landing. I was stupefied and astonished to realize that the helicopter was above the snow covered peaks and I immediately took many photos of those peaks.

This trip before going on the Southbound Alaska Cruise exceeded my expectations and developed excellent memories. The time on the helicopter flew very fast. Soon the helicopter landed on the glacier. Unbelievably the flight and the landing both were very smooth. I noticed that the experienced pilot was very passionate about his job, very pleasant, welcoming, friendly, and honestly caring about his clients. I was awestruck by this unbelievable experience. The glacier landing was the highlight of this trip and I didn't believe that I did it. This was my first ever flight in life on a helicopter. 

The beauty of Denali was visible and its scenery and glacier view were amazing. After the landing we stood there and watched overwhelming beauty and serenity in nature. It was a memorable trip and I wish to repeat this experience again in my life.
“I beheld and just gazed around 
 At the stunning beauty of nature 
Alluring to stay there longer.
Time calls and I leave behind
The blissful and secluded
Ethereal and elegant mountains”.

Sushma Malhotra, New York

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