Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour - Mendenhall Glacier

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    Flightseeing Helicopter in Alaska

    Juneau Icefield and Glaciers
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Helicopter flightseeing over the Mendenhall Glacier and icefields near Juneau is one of the most exciting shore excursions available to cruise passengers visiting Alaska. Add a glacier landing and a dog sled ride across the ice and snow, and you have an adventure to remember forever!

    The "Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier via Helicopter" excursion in Juneau was one of the best cruise ship shore excursions I've ever taken. The helicopter swooped up over the mountains, and the ride from the warm Juneau airport across the green coastal mountains to the icefields and Mendenhall Glacier took only a few minutes. The helicopter floated up and over the mountains, and we marveled at the striking whiteness of the Juneau icefields below. The whole experience was much like an IMAX movie, only we were part of it.

    Note that helicopter tours are expensive, and often bad weather can cause cancellations. But, if the weather holds, what a wonderful experience to take home! If the weather is bad either near the heliport or up on the glacier, you'll miss the tour, but safety comes first. Juneau offers many other things to do and see.

    Six of us rode a bus from the ship to the TEMSCO Helicopters' office near the airport, where we had a safety briefing and put on our glacier boots. Then, we brave souls and the pilot buckled up, donned our headphones, and lifted off! None of us had ever ridden in a helicopter, but we all agreed the experience greatly exceeded our expectations.

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    Gunsight Mountain near Juneau, Alaska

    Gunsight Mountain near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Do you see the narrow "V" in the mountains ahead?

    The excellent weather allowed the pilot to zip the helicopter through this "V-shaped" opening, which is appropriately named the "Gunsight". I didn't get a photo as we went through the Gunsight -- I was temporarily terrified! The pilot didn't give us any warning. He headed for the mountain, and the next thing we knew, we were through the gap.

    Later, after catching our collective breaths, I asked the pilot how much clearance we had on each side of the rotor. He said the Gunsight was a 300-foot opening, and the helicopter blades are less than 50 feet across. It sure looked a lot closer to me.

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    Flying to the Juneau Icefields on a Helicopter

    Flying to the Juneau Icefields on a Helicopter
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    The green coastal mountains quickly turn into glaciers and icefields as you fly away from the Juneau airport.

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    Helicopter View of Juneau Icefields

    Helicopter View of Juneau Icefields
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Mendenhall Glacier North Fork

    Mendenhall Glacier North Fork
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau Helicopter Tour

    Juneau Helicopter Tour
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Glacier Helicopter Tour of Juneau Icefields

    Glacier Helicopter Tour of Juneau Icefields
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau Icefields and Glaciers

    Juneau Icefields and Glaciers
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau, Alaska Helicopter Flightseeing Tour of Glaciers

    Juneau, Alaska Helicopter Flightseeing Tour of Glaciers
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Snow-Covered Mountains Near Juneau, Alaska

    Snow-Covered Mountains Near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Glacier Helicopter Tour from Juneau, Alaska

    Glacier Helicopter Tour from Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau Icefield and Snow-Capped Mountains

    Juneau Icefield and Snow-Capped Mountains
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau Glacier Helicopter Tour

    Juneau Glacier Helicopter Tour
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Juneau Glacier Helicopter Tour

    Juneau Glacier Helicopter Tour
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Glacier near Juneau, Alaska

    Glacier near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Helicopter Landing on the Juneau Icefield

    Helicopter Landing on the Juneau Icefield
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Fellow cruise traveler Ashley leaves the helicopter for the next part of our adventure--dog sledding!

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    Helicopter on Alaska Icefield near Juneau, Alaska

    Helicopter on Alaska Icefield near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    The helicopters dropped us at the dog camp and returned about an hour later. The tour company runs two helicopters and up to 10 trips per day per helicopter.

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    Glacier near Juneau, Alaska

    Glacier near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska

    Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    The Gastineau Channel of the Inside Passage of Alaska separates Juneau from Douglas Island. It is gradually filling in due to the glaciers' silt.

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    Helicopter View of Mountains near Juneau

    Helicopter View of Mountains near Juneau
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Mountains near Juneau, Alaska

    Mountains near Juneau, Alaska
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison
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    Alaska Glacier

    Alaska Glacier
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    Although much of the ice field and glacier area was very smooth, this glacier was rough due to the buckling of the ice as it is pushed down the valley.

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    Sheep on a Mountain-Top near Juneau

    Sheep on a Mountain-Top near Juneau
    Alaska Glacier Helicopter Tour Photo (c) Linda Garrison

    You have to look very closely, but those white dots on the green mountaintop are sheep.