What??? We're gonna land on a glacier??? Those were my words to my sister after she informed me that I had no choice because she already paid my $425 ticket for the helicopter ride.
The ride would take 90 minutes and we would see seals and other wildlife and then land on a glacier. Well, I just hope the plane was functioning well, the pilot was good and the ice would not crack!
Fortunately, we had two pilots! And the helicopter is so new (just a month old) -- it looks like this helicopter company in Girdwood sells its old planes and keeps on updating its equipment. And the lady (I think Amanda was her name) was very cheerful and explained to us where we were going and her only advise was that we do not open the door during flight....of course.
But once I was in the chopper, my fears were gone. The four of us sat comfortably - myself, my sister VTer jumpingwithnnorman and the two pilots. My sister sat in frontn and after landing on the glacier, we exchanged places. We also wear headphones so that we can communicate well with each other despite the deafening chopper wings...
The views were spectacular and the weather was so good I did not have to wear a jacket on the glacier itself. The bluish hue of the ice was so striking.
Definitely, do this activity - save up for it because it is really worth it.
Summer or winter, the ride up the Tramway is a great experience. The views of the valley and all the way out to Turnagain Arm are breathtaking. The Tramway holds about 30 people and starts behind the Alyeska Prince Hotel and goes up to the view platform at 2300'.
Tram runs at half speed during the summer and take 8 minutes so you can take it all in.
$15 per adult guests of the hotel or $16 for non-guests.
Free if you are having dinner at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant which is a very good deal.
You can arrange for a tandem paraglide ride from the platform to the valley floor for about $100 including the tram ride.
An upscale resort worth visiting even if not staying here. Very picturesque but a little dark inside.
Activities: Tram runs year round & holds 60 passengers. World famous "Seven Glaciers Restaurant" at top of mountain. There is also a cafeteria. Those that wish to hike the 2 miles can take the tram down for free.
My husband & I tried to reserve a couple of nights stay but their website indicated the resort was full. Friends I travelled with tried the same to no avail. When we stopped by enroute to Seward the resort was almost deserted. Not good marketing on their part as they lost a couple of customers.
This town in the bowl of some mountains is a pretty place to settle, and you never have to worry about urban sprawl, as there is no more land to develop.
This means that if you wanted to stay in Girdwood on a permanent basis, the cost of housing would be high.
You can see what is available through the RE/MAX Real Estate Office website, or stop by and say hello to Mel.
Like many towns in Alaska, Girdwood has many artistic people, (it is something to do on those cold winter nights). Visit the Girdwood Center for the Visual Arts to see the displays.
When I visited, they were changing displays, so they were temporarily closed.
In the winter, people come for the skiing, so go up on the Mountain and at least enjoy the view. This is the view in winter (duh). the hotel looks pretty far away. But it is only a short cable car ride of 3 minutes away.
Here is another view looking out over the townsite of Girdwood to the coast road (Seward Highway) the Turnagain Arm, and the Kenai Peninsula beyond. Alaska is a beautiful place to visit especially in the winter!
I like looking down on the clouds in this picture.
Here is a view on the ride up the cable car in August of the Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Peninsula. It looks different in the summer. Alyeska and Alaska are beautiful anytime you choose to visit.
As you can see we are not all frozen tundra, we have trees at least south of the permafrost.
The Mountain looks much different in summer without the layers of snow. Peggy, Diane, and myself rode up the tram to to chalet on Mt Alyeska. Interestingly enough, they had heard about the cable car from a women's magazine they had gotten in the check-out line of their grocery store.
Get your inspiration from anywhere you can.
Glacier Valley Transit is the shuttle bus that takes everyone from the hotel to the restaurants and shops. The shuttle is a great place to meet and talk to locals. If you don't know where you want to go or what you want to do, it's perfectly fine to just ride on the bus and have a look around. The drivers are very friendly and are happy to point out all of the dining and shopping options on the shuttle route. The round trip takes about half an hour. Shuttles run every 20 minutes in the summer. The shuttle costs a dollar a ride, unless you are a hotel guest, then it's free. Do tip the driver if you enjoy your shuttle ride! I know it sounds weird that a shuttle ride can be a memorable experience, but once you get to Girdwood, you'll understand.
We went to go to Prince William Sound via helicopter and had so much fun that we decided to go Summer Dog Sledding too. Everything was incredible! It is a bit pricy but worth every penny! All of the views were once in a life time and totaly made our entire trip! The only bad thing is that after our trips everything paled in comparison. We are planning to go back in the winter so that we can see everything covered in snow. So much fun! I guess they are even taking people back to get married on the Glaciers too, what will they think of next?
The Alyeska Ski Resort has an average of 631 inches of snowfall every year and covers 1,000 acres with a 2500 foot vertical drop. Alyeska is where Olympic Gold Medalist Tommy Moe trained. There are two certified (International Ski Federation) downhill courses. Alyeska has wide open bowls, and long top to bottom runs. There are 10 black diamond trails and 5 double diamond trails. All 68 runs are open to snowboarders. Here is the online trail guide.
Wikipedia tells us that Mount Alyeska is the biggest ski mountain in the state of Alaska. The Alyeska Ski Corporation was founded in 1954, and the first chair lift and day lodge were opened in 1959. The Roundhouse ski lodge and ski patrol station at the top of the mountain began construction in 1960, and is still standing today. Currently, Alyeska has 6 chair lifts and one high-speed tram. Of the 6 chairlifts, one is co-owned by Alyeska and the Tanaka Corporation (Chair 5). Chair 6 is a high-speed bubble-quad, while Chairs 4 and 7 are normal quads. Chair 1 is the oldest chair lift on the mountain, and leads all the way up to the Roundhouse. Chair 6 goes to the highest skiable point on the mountain. However, plans to make a new chair lift higher up the mountain have been announced. Alyeska was bought in December of 2006 by John Byrne III, who says he plans to make many new improvements to the resort, concentrating on people who come to ski for the day.
This little guy caught my eye another day when I was driving back to Anchorage from Kenai. It is one of the better pictures I've taken of an animal because it let me catch it looking at me! A trip in the summer to Girdwood from Anchorage will undoubtedly give you the opportunity to see sheep crawling up and down the cliffs along the highway. Rubbernecking and stopping to view the sheep is a common source of traffic jams and even accidents along the New Seward Highway, so please be careful. Everyone wants to stop and take a picture of them.