Alaska Flightseeing With Rust’s Flying Service

The tagline of Rust’s Flying Service is “Make it epic.”  

A sow and her spring cubs take a turn digging for clams on the beaches of Chitina Bay. Image by Juno Kim.

Soaring over some of the most pristine landscapes on the planet, keeping an eye out for moose or bears, or transiting between fishing camps or remote lodges, all while bundled in a small plane. THAT’S epic. And that’s Rust’s. 

Serving Alaska for more than 50 years, Rust’s is the longest-serving flightseeing operator on Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage, which happens to be the busiest in the world. Daily, year-round, the folks at Rust’s fly people to places seen only in nature documentaries or the pages of adventure magazines. From fishing expeditions a few hours across Cook Inlet to 30-minute sweeps over Alaska’s largest city, the team at Rust’s is committed to safe, unique experiences that cap an Alaska vacation, or allow a resident to recapture that sense of awestruck wonder at this beautiful place in which he or she lives. 

The coolest part about flightseeing? A headset! AK Kid has always loved to fly with Rust’s, even as a little guy. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

What they offer

Flight Tours are traditional flightseeing opportunities, soaring over glaciers, inlets and bays, the city, and even Denali, North America’s highest peak that can be seen from Anchorage on a nice day. Generally more affordable as well, these are flights perfect for first-time small plane passengers, and families traveling with kids. Pricing and options can be found HERE

Fly-In Fishing is for the serious anglers looking to hook a famous Alaska salmon, or perhaps a trout or grayling in a remote location. Have experience in the backcountry and want to take it up a notch? Try the guided or unguided options for a single day, or go bigger and spend a few nights at a cabin or lodge. Find the choices HERE. 

Bear Viewing is the top step of Alaska adventures. These big coastal brown bears spend the summer months eating, and eating, rich diets of salmon, berries, shellfish, and green grasses and sedges of wide green meadows along the shores of Katmai or Lake Clark National Parks. A trip to view bears in their natural habitat is both exciting and reverent, and I never, ever see the same sight twice. Mamas teaching spring cubs how to dig up a clam; fat, lazy males taking a nap in a grassy burrow; or yearlings causing a ruckus over by the salmon stream. This is raw, wild Alaska, and Rust’s has excellent partnerships with backcountry lodges and bear-guiding operators to make the experience unlike anything else. 

Bear Mountain Lodge in Chitina Bay can be reached thanks to Rust’s Flying Service. Guests are shuttled via this nifty AWD bus. Image by Juno Kim

In fact, a few weeks ago I spent a hot, sunny day out at Chinitna Bay’s Bear Mountain Lodge, 90 minutes from Anchorage along the southern reaches of Lake Clark National Park. We flew out of Anchorage, hooked southwest, and landed on a strip of beach that doubles as a bear highway and bus transit road, both. The lodge is remote, located on some of the few bits of private land within the national park boundary. Small and cozy, the lodge’s philosophy is to experience bears, not just observe them, and they do this well, with experienced guides, no fences or platforms, and a policy to educate each and every guest. 

We stayed for a few hours, watching bears do what bears do, but some guests choose to overnight in one of the lodge’s cozy cabins, the creek chittering just outside the door, and the tides coming and going. While I wouldn’t recommend a stay for families with kids under the age of 10, I would say the experience of an overnight in bear country is a tween or teen adventure dream that will leave your youngster with plenty of cool photos and a good story or two to tell. 

It’s midway through an Alaska summer. The bears are feasting on fish, splashing and dashing as only a four-legged food machine can. Be part of it, and embrace the place. 



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