Alaska Range From the Air: Denali National Park


It turns out diminutive five-seater planes and I don’t really see eye to eye. As we begin our bumpy ascent and the world starts to spin a little, I’m beginning to think that a scenic flight over Denali National Park in Alaska’s central interior was not such a great idea.

After two weeks in Alaska all the thermals, waterproofs and extra layers I packed in anticipation of the bitter cold and rain still sit neatly folded, untouched, at the bottom of my suitcase.



Alaska Range



“August is the wettest month in Alaska,” I was informed by an Alaskan friend.

With only one day of rain and lashings of sunshine I was certain this luck was bound to finally change once I headed north to Denali National Park: six million acres of unspoiled wilderness.

Despite a tight budget and an aversion to small planes, the idea of flying over the the 600-mile long Alaska Range up to the edges of Mount McKinley was too strong to resist.



Alaska Range from the air



Often the best travel experiences are the most spontaneous ones.

At least that’s what I tell myself whilst hyperventilating into a paper bag and using my free hand to steady my camera long enough to take intermittent photographs.


But seeing the Alaska Range from above the clouds and feeling close enough to reach out and touch the stark white peaks of the mountains distracts me from thoughts of motion sickness and fear of confined spaces….


The textures and colors of the landscape are so much more defined from the air and the sweeping paths of the glacier-carved valley seem to move and curve of their own accord.

I have no idea where to look first.



Alaska Range Denali National Park



I have been interested in aerial photography ever since I saw Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s fabulous collection of photographs from The Earth From the Air in an open air exhibition at the London National History Museum in 2002.


For one beautiful hour, we sweep and soar over glaciers, avalanches and the jagged peaks of the Alaska Range, edging as close as is safely possible to the king all North American mountains, Mount McKinley.


By the time we land just over an hour later, I am a trembling mess…but with about 500 aerial photos of one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in North America.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely! But not without a hefty dose of Dramamine.   :)



Have you been to Denali National Park?

Do you enjoy taking scenic flights / helicopter rides when you travel?



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