The port city of Seward is a classic stop on any Alaska itinerary, thanks to its proximity to Chugach National Forest and Kenai Fjords National Park. But it’s also one of the more diverse places to fly. This tour operator offers stunning birds-eye views of the area’s alpine meadows, glaciers and fjords, as well as the chance to touch down, explore the terrain and even meet sled dogs.
The tours run from May through mid-September. From the air, aside from the mountain valleys, glaciers and fjords, you can see bears, whales, and even mountain goats and sea lions. Near glaciers, look for seals pulling themselves out onto the ice bergs.
Combine a Scenic Tour with Dog-Sledding
One of the main excursions Seward Helicopter Tours offers is the Glacier Dog Sledding tour. Since they are one of the smaller operators in the state, with the kennel right in town, they’re able to quickly bring the dogs up to the glacier (where they have a remote kennel for about 30 dogs) or back down to the in-town kennel. You get outfitted with any gear you need (rain jackets, rain pants, boots over shoes, parkas) and board the helicopter for the 12-minute flight from the Seward airport to the camp.
On the way, you’ll fly over Resurrection Bay, over a beautiful braided river, and up towards Godwin Glacier. The camp is at 3,700 feet elevation: Once there, you’ll be greeted by guides who will teach you about the glacier, introduce you to the dogs and then show you how to ride. You’ll take a 30-minute dogsled ride around the glacier, stopping along the way for pictures and then taking some time to mingle with the pooches—about an hour total on the glacier before you fly back to Seward.
Soar Over Glaciers
The tours stay super-small and personalized—usually only two helicopters for each tour, with each helicopter seating three people—but the dog sled tour is not your only option. You can also take a 30-minute scenic flight and glacier-landing tour, where you take the helicopter to one of three glaciers, based on current conditions, then land for just a few minutes to explore.
Don’t want to get off the helicopter at all? Choose one of these three scenic-tour options:
30-Minute Tour to Bear Glacier
This quick but scenic flight is a great bang for your buck: You’ll go to Bear Glacier, the largest glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park. You’ll see a huge glacier moraine and beautiful icebergs, and likely see the glacier calving into the lagoon.
45-Minute Tour to Aialik
With a 45-minute tour, you’ll see not only Bear Glacier but also Aialik Glacier, which has a 300-foot ice face that drops into the ocean.
60-Minute Scenic Tours
If you can devote a full hour for a tour, you can choose between going to the Kenai Fjords and Harding Icefield—where you’ll see Aialik, Bear and Northwestern glaciers—or taking the land-based route to Bear Glacier, Exit Glacier and over Chugach National Forest. On this second option, you’ll see Excelsior Glacier and Elsworth Glacier, and perhaps some wildlife, like bears and moose.
People often come back for repeat tours, and say this was the coolest thing—or things —they did in Alaska. After all, landing on a glacier, flying in a helicopter, and going dog sledding are a bucket list trifecta.
Indeed, the company has some serious street credit in the dog sledding world. Owners Travis Beals and Sarah Stokey are both Iditarod finishers (Travis has finished the race four times now, placing 11th one year). They spend a good part of the year training with their dogs, but during the summer, they love sharing the terrain and the dogs’ company with visitors.