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Life at Denali Air

By Denali National Park, Flights, Tours, Uncategorized

It’s almost time to start the 2018 tour season and we’re getting pretty excited: summer life in Denali is an absolute blast, and we always look forward to meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones. We love our guests, too — at Denali Air we meet people from all over the world, and it’s super fun to hear what brought them to our neck of the woods.

We get a lot of questions from our guests about what it’s like to live and work in Denali. People often wonder about what day-to-day life is like, where we live, and what we do for fun. We love to share, so we decided to make this blog post all about what it’s like to live as a seasonal employee at Denali Air.

Denali Air is a family-owned business, so one unique aspect of life on the Denali Air campus is sharing space with two young kids and their golden retriever, Mac.  If you are wondering why you see a couple of big wheels, a small basketball hoop and a friendly dog outside of our office, now you know!

The first question most people ask is, “Where do you live?” Denali is a seasonal town that’s booming during the summer, but it shuts down completely during the winter. For that reason, you won’t see apartment complexes or a residential district when you arrive in Denali, and most seasonal employees live in housing provided by their employers. Denali Air employees (along with employees of The Black Bear Coffee Shop*) live on-site in one-room dry cabins right next to the airstrip. You might even see a cabin or two when your airplane takes off!

Most of the cabins are tucked into a small forested area that’s connected by a boardwalk path or well-trod trail. At the center of “camp” (as we like to call it) is a large log cabin we call the cookshack. Employees that live at Denali Air eat all their meals in the cookshack, and lunch and dinner are prepared everyday by an amazing cook. (Shout out to our cook Morgan Smith who’s been holding down the cookshack for us for the last few years — she’s AMAZING.)

Beyond the cookshack is a shared bathroom and shower facility (with shared cleaning duties, everyone’s absolute favorite part about living at Denali Air…), and a stand of trees that extends to the George Parks highway. In front of the cookshack, there’s a fire pit and a large area for lawn games, barbecues, and even an occasional yoga session. It’s a lot like adult summer camp! The lawn is adjacent to the airstrip, and most of us thoroughly enjoy sitting outside and watching the planes take off. If you see us during your taxi, wave! We love that, too. 

Each year Denali Air becomes home to new staff who are trying out Alaska for the first time, and returning staff always look forward to coming back to a place that feels like home, and reuniting with friends who feel like family.

There you have it! Hope this helped you get to know us a little better and gave you at least a small glimpse of one of the reasons so many of us come back to Denali year after year — there really is no place like it.


*We’ve absolutely got to make a special plug for The Black Bear Coffee Shop — it’s our fave, and we feel so lucky that we get to live with the people that keep Denali visitors and locals happy and caffeinated. You’ll find Black Bear on the boardwalk in the heart of Denali’s business district, and at Black Bear you’ll find coffee prepared by skilled baristas, baked goodies from Denali’s finest bakers, and an incredible menu of amazing breakfast, lunch, and dinner options crafted by incredible cooks from across the country. The best part is: it’ll all come with great service and a smile from Black Bear’s exceptional staff, who are just genuinely nice people (which, of course, is why we’re so happy we get to share housing with them). Make a visit to Black Bear while you’re in town, you’ll be happy you did.

Mac's Favorite Cookshack | Denali Air | Denali Flightseeing
polychromes | Denali Air | Denali Flightseeing

Denali by Air: Helicopter or Airplane?

By Denali National Park, Flights, Tours

Summer is just around the corner, and if you’ve got a trip to Denali planned, that probably means you’re finalizing your itineraries and booking excursions.  Many visitors to Alaska find that their flightseeing tour was the highlight of their entire trip.But there are a lot of incredible tour experiences available in Denali, and it can be hard to choose the ones that are right for you, especially when it comes to flightseeing. Since comparing flight tours in Denali can be difficult, and since the choice often comes down to airplanes versus helicopters, we decided to line-out some of the differences in between our Peak Experience Tour and the helicopter tour into the National Park.  Over the years, we have maintained a friendly relationship with the helicopter operator in Denali. We refer passengers who absolutely want the experience of riding in a helicopter.  And they refer to us passengers who want the most comprehensive aerial tour of Denali.

Denali Air Peak Experience Tour

  • Focused on circumnavigating Denali (Mt. McKinley), weather permitting
  • Potential viewing of Denali from within half mile of the mountain face
  • Traverses the Alaska Range from the park entrance to Denali, approximately 80 miles 
  • 200 miles, round trip
  • 60+ minute tour, 99.9% over Denali National Park
  • Gives you a unique perspective of the beautiful landscapes of the National Park that you are likely to see on the bus tour
  • Twin-engine Piper Navajo aircraft allow pilots to navigate around clouds and weather
  • 6-8 seat aircraft, all seats are windows seats 
  • $399 per adult, $205 for children under 12

Denali Helicopter Excursion

  • Focused on viewing Denali National Park
  • On a clear day, potential Denali viewing occurs from a distance of approximately 50 miles from the mountain face
  • 35 minute tour 
  • 6 seat aircraft with middle seat assignments
  • $411 per adult

So there you have it! We sincerely believe that you can’t go wrong no matter what tour you chose (though of course we’re a tiny bit biased toward our own), and all the flight-tour vendors in the area offer safe, incredible options. If you have questions or would like more information about our tours, give us a call or send us an email. There’s no experience in the world quite like flightseeing in Denali, and we’d love to help you pick the excursion that’s right for you.