A flightseeing helicopter ride to go dog sledding on a glacier is one of the unique experiences in Alaska that’s once in a lifetime.
This adventure is also one of the more popular and expensive options for shore excursions during an Alaskan cruise.
I’m sharing more about what to expect during this adventure to help you determine if this excursion in Alaska is right for you.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended at no additional cost.
Should You Book Juneau Dog Sledding Tours in Advance?
Yes! Dog sledding excursions are extremely popular in Alaska.
If there are multiple cruise ships in Juneau on the same day, the best tours book up the quickest. You can check the port schedule for your upcoming cruise here.
Be prepared that dog sledding excursions will be booked very quickly through the cruise line.
If you’re going to go dog sledding for the first time, an experience dog sledding on a glacier is pretty epic!
If this is your first cruise to Alaska you’ll want to book the popular excursions as soon as possible, months in advance.
When Can You Dog Sled on a Glacier in Alaska?
Dog sled tours on a glacier typically operate from early May until mid-August.
You’ll want to check the tour operator’s website for specific dates of operations.
Why Is The Helicopter/Dog Sledding on a Glacier Excursion so Expensive?
Dog sledding on a glacier is pricey because there are so many factors and logistics.
Juneau is located in southeast Alaska and isn’t accessible by car. The only way you can get to Juneau is by boat or plane.
There are staff at the base to prep you for your flight, a pilot flying you to the glacier, fuel, the musher, and staff to care for the dogs, permits, and equipment, as an example of cost factors.
All dogs, staff, and equipment are flown to the glacier each season, which adds to the cost.
When you think about the logistics involved in your incredible experience to go dog sledding on a glacier, the cost is understandable.
The glacier also has zero waste which means no waste can be left behind by humans or animals.
You’re getting two excursions for the price of one with the flightseeing over a glacier and the dog sledding experience.
Why I Booked Our Dog Sledding Experience With Alaska Shore Excursions
The dog sledding excursions were filled up on our Cruise line and my first preference was to dog sled on a glacier vs. the summer dog sled ride on a wheeled cart through the woods.
When I pictured the dog sledding experience in Alaska in my mind, I pictured it with snow.
The wheeled cart would have been my plan B option if my first preference wasn’t available.
Upon further reading on their website, I discovered that they have a “best price guarantee” for group tours with wholesale prices so I knew we were getting the best deal on our dog sledding adventure.
If your ship is late to your port your tour time can be adjusted if it works with your schedule or you can be fully refunded.
Their cancellation policy was also appealing. You can cancel any tour for any reason up to 7 days before the date of your tour with a full refund.
What Happens If Your Excursion Gets Back Too Late to Port After Your Tour?
One of the big fears with booking an excursion outside of your cruise line is the risk of not making it back to port in time.
Alaska Shore Excursions guarantees that your tour will return on time.
In the extremely unlikely event that you miss getting back from your tour on time, they will comp your food, hotel, and flight costs associated with meeting your cruise ship the following day.
FYI – they’ve never had to do this and many of the tour operators are the same ones used by the cruise lines.
What Was Included in Our Glacier/ Dog Sledding Excursion?
Our glacier/dog sledding excursion included a round-trip transfer from/to the cruise ship terminal, a scenic helicopter flight of the glaciers, dog sledding, and photo ops.
How Much Was Our Glacier/ Dog Sledding Excursion?
I paid $1887 for our dog sledding on a glacier excursion for 3 people. We also tipped two mushers $40 and purchased the photo package with a few images offered on the glacier for $50.
Where Do You Meet For Your Dog Sledding Tour?
You’re conveniently picked up at the main cruise ship terminal in downtown Juneau and transported to the helipad at Juneau International Airport in the Mendenhall Valley.
The cruise ship terminal for the cruise docks is located across from Douglas Island.
How Much Time Do You Need to Budget for This Excursion?
Our excursion was around 3 hours roundtrip to/from the cruise ship terminal.
Here is a breakdown of the amount of time for the helicopter/dog sledding excursion
- 20~30 minute drive – roundtrip transportation to the airport
- 30 minutes – preflight safety briefing and preparation
- 30 minutes – glacier flightseeing via helicopter
- 60 minutes – at the dog camp with approximately 35-40 minutes of dog sledding
What’s the Difference Between Dog Sledding on Herbert Glacier Vs. Mendenhall Glacier?
There is a dog sled camp on both glaciers and both Herbert Glacier and Mendenhall Glacier are located within the Tongass National Forest.
Herbert Glacier is 8 miles long and is one of the remote locations only accessible by helicopter.
Mendenhall Glacier is 13+ miles long and can also be viewed by land at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
What Should You Wear on Your Helicopter/ Dog Sledding Excursion?
Dress for warmth with layered clothing, a waterproof jacket, hats, gloves, comfortable close-toed shoes, and sunglasses are strongly recommended.
Our tour was in early June and I brought gloves but didn’t wear them.
We were supplied with traction overboots/glacier boots to slip over our shoes before our helicopter ride.
How Cold is it on the Glacier?
The glacier is typically 10-15 degrees cooler than the ground level so check the weather forecast before you go.
What Happens If Your Helicopter Flight is Cancelled Due to Weather?
If your tour is cancelled due to bad weather you’ll get a full refund and no penalties.
Weather is unpredictable in Juneau and your tour could be canceled up to the last minute if the pilot deems the weather conditions are unsafe.
Staff will try to find you an alternative option if you’re tour is canceled. Excursions with helicopters tend to be canceled more than other excursions in Juneau due to safety factors impacted by weather.
I chose a morning flight because I thought that I would have a greater chance of rescheduling on the same day if my flight was canceled due to weather.
Is There an Age Restriction for the Glacier/ Dog Sledding Excursion?
There was no age restriction and adults and kids were charged the SAME price.
Our Experience With Coastal Helicopters Through Alaska Shore Excursions
We had great interactions with the tour operators with both Coastal Helicopters and the professional staff with Alaska Icefields Expeditions on the glacier.
We were in good hands from start to finish during our scenic flight and during our time on the glacier interacting with the dogs.
I felt safe at all times and also observed staff and support staff making sure that guests on the tour knew the safety guidelines during the flight and tour.
How Many Passengers Ride in Each Helicopter?
There is a maximum of 6 passengers per helicopter and parties could be split among multiple helicopters by weight for safety purposes.
Rest assured if your group with the same departure times is split up for the helicopter ride, multiple helicopters will take the groups and land at the dog sled camp together.
Is there a Restroom on the Glacier?
There are restroom facilities at the helicopter base before you depart on your tour, but there are no restrooms available on the glacier. It’s a good idea to go before your flight.
How is the Seating Arrangement Determined for the Helicopter Ride?
The helicopter has two front seats and four rear seats that will be assigned by staff based on the weight and balance of all passengers who are riding together.
Our group of three was paired with another couple. I was REALLY hoping that I would have been assigned the front seat or a window seat but I was assigned one of the middle seats instead.
I can’t really complain because it’s a requirement of FAA safety guidelines and I was still able to take some good pictures and video from the backseat.
Is There a Weight Limit For Juneau Dog Sledding & Glacier Helicopter Tour?
Yes, there is a weight limit and you will be weighed individually, fully clothed with your shoes on when you arrive at the helicopter base. You must report your accurate weight when you book your tour.
Guests weighing 260 pounds+ clothed must pay an additional $150.00 to secure space in advance.
Pricing per passenger is by weight (fully clothed). We offer the following options:
Standard – Weight Class 1-259lbs
Standard Plus – Weight Class 260-299lbs
Premium – Weight Class 300lbs+
What Can You Bring On The Helicopter Ride?
- DSLR camera
What Can’t You Bring On the Helicopter Ride?
- Selfie sticks, extendable GoPro sticks, and drones
- Food or drinks – (water is available at the helicopter base, but you can’t bring it with you)
- Bags- ALL bags/backpacks are secured in lockers at the helicopter base because they aren’t allowed in the helicopter.
How Long is the Helicopter Ride to Herbert Glacier?
The Glacier helicopter tour portion of the excursion takes around 15 minutes.
The Glacier Flightseeing Experience
The landscape that you see during the helicopter ride to and from the glacier is absolutely breathtaking!
The helicopter takes you over a snow-covered valley that’s nestled in between mountains on the Juneau Icefield.
It helps give you a scale for how large the glacier is and you get to see the deep blue crevasses from above.
The ice fields can range from 400-4000 feet tall.
What’s even better is that you have a beautiful scenic flight to going to and from the glacier.
How Big is the Dog Camp on the Glacier?
During our visit, there were 240 dogs, 4 puppies, and 6 mushers on Herbert Glacier.
There can be up to 300 dogs on the glacier with a permit.
As you approach the glacier from the air the dog camp looks like a bunch of dots.
It’s wild to see the dots transform into the dog camp as your helicopter makes its approach on the glacier.
Learn About Life on the Glacier From Professional Mushers
I would encourage you to ask the dog trainers AKA mushers many questions about what life is like living on the glacier at the dog camp all summer.
You can really see how much the dog trainers love and have a connection with the dogs they care for.
Each dog had their own unique personality even though they were collectively doing the same task.
Meet the Alaskan Huskies Who Are Ready to Run!
A tour guide will take guests on a kennel tour and you’ll meet your musher and the Alaskan sled dogs.
The dogs LOVE human interaction and the mushers will let you get close to meet the team of huskies before your ride.
How Many Guests Does Each Dog Sled Hold?
Each dog sled can accommodate 4 guests. If you have more than 4 guests in your party you will be divided into more than one small group.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that the sled dog teams are ready to run.
The adorable furry athletes are SO EXCITED when it’s time to run and pull the sled. The sled dogs take you on a 2-mile loop on a 12-13 foot base of snow.
Do You Get to Stand in the Musher’s Position During Your Dog Sled Tour?
You have the option and opportunity to stand in the musher’s position while on the dogsled tour.
The actual dogsled musher will give you instructions for how to safely control the sled and he is still able to assume control of the dogsled at all times.
Each of us took a turn standing in the musher’s position in between the team of sled dogs taking a short break.
It’s not scary at all and I would recommend doing it when given the opportunity.
The experience was really surreal…I kept trying to take snapshots in my mind of how incredible it was to be where we were at that moment having a bucket list adventure.
The Alaskan husky breed is happy, healthy, and very hard-working. They really do LOVE to run!
The dogs can pull up to 100 miles on a good day…not that they are doing that on the glacier.
During our tour, we learned that the distance to the mountains in the foreground was deceptive because they were 4 miles away even though they appeared much closer.
Cuddle Husky Puppies Before You Go
Before our 15-minute flight back we had a kennel visit to spend time with the adorable puppies.
We were able to hold them and take lots of pictures with them which was another highlight.
Are the Dog Sledding Photos Worth Purchasing?
A photographer took photos while we were dog sledding which were available for purchase at the end of our dog sledding tour.
The images were printed onsite on the glacier and I took them with me back to the helicopter for our flight back.
I took a lot of pictures and videos during our tour but I purchased the photos because they were from another vantage point of our family that I couldn’t capture.
The images were expensive but they were worth the price to me because it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The biggest challenge is getting there… and you’re already there. The photo price was way less than coming back again to try to recreate the experience and take more pictures.
I would show you the images I bought but I ironically put them somewhere for safekeeping and now I can’t find them. This is why I also recommend taking pictures and videos on your phone too.
Don’t Forget Gratuities for Your Guides
You’ll want to bring cash for gratuities for your guides. I have a greater appreciation for anyone who can live on a glacier all summer long without WIFI.
We were told that each musher gets to go back to the mainland once a week so it’s nice to show your gratitude for an awesome adventure.
Is the Helicopter/Dog Sledding Excursion Worth the $$$?
YES! It’s an experience that we will talk about for years to come that I can’t replicate.
I’ll admit that I debated back and forth because of the high cost but I don’t have any regrets.
My boys also said that it was one of their top experiences and they felt it was also worth the price. Obviously, it’s always a great deal if someone else is paying. This is a great experience gift too.
How often can you say you went dog sledding on a glacier via helicopter in Alaska??!!
It’s a memory that I got to make with my boys that I’ll treasure together forever.
Did You Know That Dog Mushing is Alaska’s Official State Sport
I love that you can experience Alaska’s iconic sport during your visit.
It gives you an even greater appreciation for the dogs and the mushers during the famous Iditarod race in March that takes teams between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska.
Other Excursion Recommendations During an Alaskan Cruise
You can read more about our Alaskan Cruise here.