Alaska is home to 39 mountain ranges and 17 peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level. If you are looking for an over the top paraglider story, Alaska can deliver and we can’t wait to help get you there.
One of the biggest challenges for paragliding in Alaska is the lack of roads to follow. We have about 15,718 miles of public roads, and not all of them are paved. To put that in perspective Vermont has more public roads than Alaska but is 62% smaller than our state. The lack of roads does limit our sites unless you’re willing to do some serious hiking! That being said there are nine amazing sites around the Anchorage, the largest city in the state. A 4wheel drive vehicle and a camper are recommended for reaching some of the locations and generally getting to the unique parts of this state.
Hatcher Pass is one of the most popular playgrounds for paragliding and hand gliding. There are almost limitless places to launch from the three main areas: Marmot, Nixon’s Nose, and Summit Lake. Expect about a 30-minute hike for Marmot and Nixon’s Nose. The launch for Summit Lake is only about 100 yards of parking, and you’ll find thermals in the summer in front of Marmot and Summit Lake.
While Lazy Mountain is still an underdeveloped site, there are many launch options within hiking distance. The spring and summer thermals can create extended flying conditions. You will need to get permission to land in the farmer’s field that typically serves as the landing zone.
Depending on your launch direction, you can set up 2-5 gliders here and get some great ridge soaring in the Palmer Valley. The Arctic Air Walkers have gotten permission from a local farmer, Mr. Sandvik, to land in his field. Just make sure you don’t land in the reindeer farm across the street. Yes, you heard us right, a real live reindeer farm because it’s Alaska!
This is a very popular site that requires about 10 minutes of hiking from the parking area. Baldy is known for its thermals, soaring, and even just simple flights. On a good day, there is cross-country potential about 12 miles. The Arctic Air Walkers maintain a landing zone at the Harry McDonald Memorial Center of more than 5 acres.
Blueberry Hill is one of the most popular training hills in the Anchorage area. The south side is great for launching but be careful since there is no designated landing zone.
Flattop is just above Blueberry Hill, and the launching area is rocky and steep enough to be considered a cliff. You’ll probably have a few spectators watching you take off since it is one of the most hiked trails for locals and tourists alike.
It is uncommon not to see a paraglider enjoying the amazing valley views. There are trams to the top and launches are possible north, south, and west. The best thermals are usually in the afternoon. The most common landing is Moose Meadow to the north, which is just a five-minute walk back to the tram. Alaska Paragliding operates commercially at the resort and is great resources for a rookie adventure or experts wanting additional information.
Alyeska Resort is arguably the most popular hand gliding location in or around the Anchorage area. If you want more information on paragliding in Alaska, the Arctic Air Walkers are a great place to start. We hope you have a safe and very exciting adventure here in our great state!