Flightseeing Tours

Flightseeing= Sightseeing Like Never Before

flightseeingThere’s sightseeing and then there’s… “flight” seeing. Alaska is grandiose and magnificent – expansive in every way. And one of the best ways to fully absorb the rugged vastness and lush landscape of southeast Alaska is to – quite literally – get a bird’s eye view of the lay of the land. Flightseeing!

There are a number of Flight Services based out of Gustavus, Alaska – the “Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park.” The locally owned and operated air taxi and charter services are the preferred flying choice for many wanting to explore southeast Alaska. Air taxies are usually one of three different types of Cessna aircraft and can comfortably accommodate up to five passengers in each. That means everyone gets a window seat and spectacular views… in other words, flightseeing at its best!

Some popular destinations include: Juneau, Sitka, Hoonah, Skagway, Petersburg and Yakutat. Passengers can enjoy views of gigantic glaciers, ice fields, the outer coast, sea lion-covered islands, rainforest and the impressive Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

There are no regularly scheduled flights, so the Air Taxi pilots who offer Flying Services are flexible and happy to accommodate your schedule. Summer hours are 7am – 7pm seven days a week, but pilots are willing to fly outside those hours – weather permitting. The passengers’ safety is paramount. The pilots ask that you call in advance to schedule your plans.

We hope you take advantage of this incredible way to experience the beauty of Alaska, give us a call and we’ll help you plan your trip and your Flight Seeing tour.

Glacier Bay National Park Animals (Infographic)

The Glacier Bay National Park is enormous and full of wildlife. Please support the education and continued preservation of this wonderful place by sharing this around the web. Help others know what wonderful places we have in this beautiful country.
We wanted to create this graphic below to better highlight the Glacier Bay National Park animals. From the Alaska Humpback Whales, all the many alaska fish species, to the amazing tufted puffin and many many more. This graphic is separated into showing species from the air, land, and down to the water. What are some of your favorites? Which ones are you hoping to get a glimpse of or may have already sighted during your visits?

Glacier Bay National Park Animals Guide

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242 bird species live in the Glacier Bay National Park. 160 marine and estuarine fish species. All 5 Pacific Salmon species are found here. Hundreds of humpback whales feed in park waters and the Icy Straight during the summer. Home to 41 species of land and water mammals, 8 of which are species of marine mammals. The Glacier Bay National Park is home to 30 of Alaskas 40 species of land mammals. These are just a few of the many wonders of this wonderful national park.

The Rainforests of Southeast Alaska

southeast-alaska-rainforestEverything is green. Even the air looks green. It’s fresh and alive and green – a temperate rainforest. There are two types of rainforests; tropical rainforests and temperate rainforests. The tropical type resides in equatorial regions, whereas the temperate variety is generally found along coasts on just about every continent on earth.

By definition a temperate rainforest receives between 60 – 200 inches of rain annually. The canopy of trees covering the forest excludes 70 percent of the sky. Temperatures range from as high as 80 degrees in the summer to near freezing in the winter. The mean annual temperature is 39 – 54 degrees. Temperate rainforests are coniferous (cone-bearing) or broadleaf forests. That means one will see plenty of Sitka Spruce trees, Douglas fir, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock. The forest floor is covered with ferns, mosses, lichens and small plants. And there is an abundance of flora and fauna – so much so – that scientists say there is more biomass in a temperate rainforest than any other biome on earth. There are, on average, 500 tons of living things per acre – that translates into 206 pounds per square yard.

rainforest-southeast-alaskaThe nation’s largest forest is the Tongass National Forest with 17 million acres – so designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1917. Nestled inside the Tongass in southeast Alaska is some of the most lush vegetation found anywhere on the planet. It’s part of the largest temperate rainforest region in the world. It stretches from central California to southeast Alaska.

Any itinerary to The Last Frontier should include a trip to the temperate rainforest of southeast Alaska. Excursions can be planned from Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve just outside of Gustavus, Alaska. There are guided hikes or independent treks. All hikes are guaranteed to fascinate with forest floors covered with ferns, mosses, lichens and small plants. Red squirrels, porcupine, woodpeckers, maybe even a meandering moose or bear will make an appearance. Trails shrouded in mist with trees wrapped and drenching with moss, it’s a magical – even mystical outing.

Just be prepared for green. Green like you’ve never experienced before.

Alaska Humpback Whales at Point Adolphus

Alaska-Humpback-Tail-Fluke-300x213Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate more than 3000 miles from Hawaii to Alaska. They spend winter in tropical waters for mating and calving, and then make the 4 – 8 week voyage to temperate and polar waters in Alaska during the summer to feed and rebuild their blubber supply.

Point Adolphus in southeast Alaska near Gustavus is a popular feeding area for the Alaska humpback and a popular place for travelers to get a glimpse of these enormous mammals.

Whales have always held a certain fascination for folks – if not a little fear – because of their sheer size. Many books have been penned and many movies produced featuring the “king” of the oceans, including the new movie, “Big Miracle,” based on the true story of three whales trapped in Barrow, Alaska.

Part of the attraction of whales is their playful nature.  Humpbacks are acrobatic and can put on a spectacular show of “breaching” – lifting their entire body out of the water while slapping their fins on the way back down. Sometimes they perform a spin move in the air, sometimes they spout air or sometimes they slap their “flukes” or tails with a huge splash. They’re entertaining. And they even sing. Yep. Humpback whales, especially the watching-whales-point-adolphus-300x199males, are known for their singing. During breeding season, males sing the longest, most complex song in the animal kingdom. The song can last 20 minutes.

Humpbacks are the fifth largest of the great whales. They’re so named because of the distinct “hump” that shows as the whale arches its back when it dives.

Alaska Humpback Whales are “baleen” whales. Instead of teeth, they have between 270-400 baleen plates, which hang from their top jaw. They feed by taking large gulps of water (a gulp can be 1500 gallons of water). Humpbacks use a hunting technique called “bubble netting.” They swim in a spiral beneath a school of fish or krill (a small shrimp-like crustacean) blowing lots of bubbles. This creates a “net” of bubbles that traps a giant mass of krill. They then swim up through the center with their mouths wide open enjoying their favorite meal. The baleen plates act as filters for the fish and krill. The nutrient-rich waters at Point Adolphus makes southeast Alaska an especially great place to view them feeding.

Alaska Humpback Whale Stats:

  • Average male is 40-48ft long
  • Average female is 45-50ft long
  • They can grow to between 25-40 tons
  • Life expectancy is 45-50 years
  • Pregnancy period is 12 months
  • Babies are fifteen feet at birth and weigh 1.5 tons
  • Babies drink, on average, 240 liters of milk a day
  • An adult male humpback whale has two lungs – each the size of a small car

The best time to view humpback whales at Point Adolphus is between May and August. Point Adolphus is located near the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and Gustavus, Alaska. There are daily flights to Gustavus. Glacier Bay Country Inn in Gustavus is a comfortable and convenient place to stay to plan a kayaking trip to view the whales or charter excursions.

Truly, it’s a whale of a good time.

Gustavus, Alaska – A Unique Name in a Unique Corner of the World

Everything about Alaska is, well – different. But in a good way.  Alaska is definitely unique and one of the more unusual spots, nestled in a national forest in the southeastern part of the state, is a town called, Gustavus.  When I first heard the name, I thought, “What kind of a name is that?” Gustavus certainly doesn’t sound very “native” to that part of the world. It’s not even remotely close to anything found in the language of the local Tlingit tribe.

Gustavus is a Swedish name. You need to know how to pronounce Gustavus, especially if you’re going to visit there.  So today’s first lesson will be in pronunciation. [guh – stey –vuhs] Got it? Now, how did this remote little paradise at the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park get its name? Anytime I travel, I like to do a little research. I’m always curious how towns or streets get named. There may be other legends, but this seems to be the most reliable – or, at least, the most consistent story.

Gustavus-Alaska-City-Seal

 Gustavus, for many years, was known as Strawberry Point.  Once again, another unusual name for Alaska. It was so named because sweet strawberries grew in wild abundance there. Still do, in fact. It was in 1925, when the United States Post Office required a change for its new post office there. Officials switched the name from Strawberry Point to Gustavus because of its close proximity to “Gustavus Point,” located at the mouth of Glacier Bay. Incidentally, many locals didn’t like the change and proceeded to refer to their beloved corner of the world as Strawberry Point for another quarter century.

Alright, so how did “Gustavus Point’ get its name?  Captain George Vancouver in 1793 named an area of the bay Point Adolphus – which today is a well known feeding area for humpback whales – after Adolphus Frederick, seventh son of King George III.  Nearly a hundred years later, in 1878, W.H. Dall, was surveying the coast and saw “Adolphus” on the map and assumed it was for Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus.  The point across Icy Straits from Point Adolphus at the mouth of Glacier Bay was not named on the map, so Dall called it “Gustavus.”

The “founders” of Gustavus Alaska is credited to three honeymoon couples who arrived in 1914 and set up camp along the Salmon River. Today, there are a little more than 400 residents; however, tens of thousands of visitors come every year to revel in this wilderness wonderland. Spectacular scenery, bounteous fishing, invigorating recreational opportunities are what attract tourists, and, of course, the chance to live amongst the Alaskan wildlife.

Gustavus AK has access to it all: glaciers, snow-capped peaks (and I mean peaks; measured at 15-thousand plus feet), fjords, lakes, rivers, national rainforest with a temperate climate, coastline and – are you ready for this – beaches.  Beaches!  Two hundred years ago, Gustavus was primarily a single large beach. Today, Gustavus has a beach surrounded on three sides by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and on the fourth side by water.

Gustavus is a unique name in a unique corner of the world offering unique experiences to those adventurous enough to visit the “Last Frontier” in all its glory.

Image Source: http://cms.gustavus-ak.gov/

Gustavus Alaska “Just Says No” to Law Enforcement

Alaska-VPSOIn the October General Election, nearly 4 out of 5 residents in Gustavus, Alaska voted against (196 to 54) the installation of law enforcement (or VPSO) in their quiet little town. Gustavus is one of the largest, if not the largest community in Alaska to police itself.

Most residents in this remote town are proud of their ability to live together peaceably without the need of police officers to keep order. Based off the voting outcome we assume the majority of the town feels they don’t need to change or fix that which isn’t broken.

The absence of law enforcement is one of the big attractions that drew us to this little wilderness paradise when we purchased the Glacier Bay Country Inn five years ago.

In addition, Gustavus is particularly appealing because it’s one of the few places in the U.S. where you actually own your property, instead of renting it from the government. That’s right. Gustavus Alaska has no property taxes. Try not paying your property taxes anywhere else and see how long you “own” your property.

Did I mention there is no building department? Not only can you own private property in Gustavus, but you can actually build something on your property without having to get permission from the government and then pay additional fees for the privilege.

God bless Alaska!

Image source: http://www.dps.alaska.gov/AST/vpso/Images/default.jpg

Shocking Data - Who's Wasting Alaska Halibut?

May 16th, 2011

Who’s Wasting Alaska Halibut? Not only are commercial fisherman allowed to catch the most Halibut, but they waste more than the combined catch of other responsible fisherman. As most know, Alaska has the best Halibut fishing in the world and is a very important resource to this great state and the Alaska fishing industry. However, every year, millions of pounds of Alaska Halibut are wasted in commercial fisheries. The irresponsible fishing of Commercial fisherman is the issue that should be addressed when it comes to Halibut conservation. Responsible fisherman like the alaska charter fishing industry or sport fishing are suffering because of the millions of pounds of waste each year by Commercial fishing. We wanted to help others visualize the amount of wasted Halibut that ends up rotting away in the ocean each year so we did some research and compiled the data into this infographic below. Please help the Alaska Halibut fishing industry and share this shocking information with everyone you know. We’ve added social media share icons here and also created a share box down below the graphic to make it easy for you to post it to your blog or website.

whos-wasting-alaska-halibut

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Whos Wasting Alaska Halibut?

Change in 2011 King Salmon Bag Limit - Now Two a Day!

king-salmon-300x225The Alaska Fish and Game is predicting an abundance in the King Salmon harvest this year.  As a result, during the month of May 2011 nonresident sport anglers may catch two king salmon 28 inches or bigger a day.  Also the annual bag limit for nonresident has been changed from three King Salmon to Five.   That is some great news!  After May 31st the bag limit goes back to a one a day King Salmon bag limit.

Its been over 10 years since a change like this has happened.  What a great time to head up to Southeast Alaska for some great King Salmon Sport Fishing.

Details of the 2011 King Salmon Bag Limits:

  • Alaskan Resident
    • The resident bag and possession limit is three king salmon 28 inches or greater in length.
  • Nonresident
    • The nonresident bag and possession limit is one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length; except during May 2011 when the bag and possession limit is two king salmon 28 inches or greater in length;
    • The nonresident annual limit is five king salmon 28 inches or greater in length.
  • From October 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012; all sport anglers may use two rods when fishing for king salmon.

We mentioned a few details above but if you’d like to read the full news release it can be found here on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Glacier Bay Day Cruise – A Day of Family Fun

Little-Boy-Alaska-Glaciers

We took our little family on the Glacier Bay Day cruise and it was great family fun for all! When you load up on the ship the first thing to do is pick a seat. Since we were cruising with little kids we chose a seat (cushy bench style) a few rows back so as not to disturb cruisers without children right by the window. They gave us each our own mug that we could re-fill at our leisure from the soda fountain. Of course they had sprite, my son’s favorite. Then we were free to move about the ship as we wished. We had a great time going outside when the sites were something that we wanted to experience a little closer and ‘natural’ otherwise we hung out on our roomy, cozy bench. If you go, I’d recommend taking jackets & gloves because it got a little cold/windy up close to the glaciers. Along the way we saw all sorts of wildlife including puffins, sea lions, and a couple grizzly cubs with their mom. They have a park ranger on board and he was fun to listen to and was available to ask questions as well. Our little boy completed the ‘Junior Ranger’ booklet and then they swore him in officially (it was really cute).

The boat captain was great to slow down during the interesting sites/wildlife along the way. There are a lot of different glaciers to see, I was really surprised. When we got back to the Margerie Glacier it was AMAZING to say the least. I will never forget being so close to hear it cracking and calving (the official term for little pieces cracking off into the ocean). The captain did a good job by turning off the boat and doing a few spins so everybody on the deck could get a great view and pictures. My kids were even in awe of it. It was absolutely worth our time and money. We couldn’t go all that way to Alaska and not see the glaciers up close. Along the way back to Gustavus we even saw a couple of orcas (killer whales) migrating, they were pretty far off but still it was awesome to see them in the wild. We loved the Glacier Bay Day Cruise and would recommend it to anyone visiting the Glacier Bay National Park.

New Ferry Service for Gustavus Alaska

leconte-300x149For those of you that have been to the little town of Gustavus Alaska know that getting here has always been an adventure. This has now changed somewhat as the Alaska marine highway system added our little town. Beginning November 2010, Gustavus is now accessible via the Alaska Marine Highway departing from Juneau.

For detailed ferry information on, rates, booking, and schedules please contact the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Almost everyone agrees that the new ferry service will make it easier and less expensive to live but that’s where the consensuses stop. Some including the author of this article fear that you need to be careful what you wish for. With the coming of the ferry not all that changes will be good. This town is what it is largely because of the difficulty it has been to live here. In the past it has cost over a thousand dollars to transport a vehicle to and from Juneau.  The ferry changes that and Gustavus is likely to see an influx of vehicles and people on a very small system of roadways.  You might think a lodge owner welcomes more people as they will need a place to stay, and we will welcome those people, but you have to wonder about the effect it will have on this beautiful and truly unique place. I hope it’s a good one.

Image Source: http://www.nps.gov/glba/planyourvisit/images/leconte.jpg