Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park

Ruth Glacier sits on the southeast side of Denali (fka Mt. McKinley) in Denali National Park, a popular attraction during Denali flightseeing and for glacier landings. It is one of three glaciers in Denali that is more than 30 miles long.

Glaciers cover one million acres in Denali National Park, about one-sixth of its total area. There are at least 40 named glaciers and hundreds of unnamed ones in the park, draining snow and ice from Denali and melting at lower elevations to feed the rivers that carry the water to the oceans. The longest glacier in the park is Kahiltna Glacier at 44 miles in length.

Ruth Glacier Flightseeing

Ruth Glacier and the Great Gorge are popular attractions for scenic flight tours in the park. In addition to the impressive Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier, the Mountain House built here in the 1960s serves as a landmark attraction for park visitors that take a flight on a plane into the area.

Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier

This is one of the most amazing gorges on earth. It is a ten mile long gorge that is a mile wide and nearly two miles high. It is surrounded by granite mountains and spires including Mount Dickey, Mooses Tooth and Mount Barrille.

The glacier descends through the gorge at the rate of around 3.3 feet a day, moving from an elevation of 5200 feet to 3200 feet. Ruth Icefall is a section of the Ruth Glacier that sits near the bottom of the Great Gorge. The icefall is steeper and virtually impassable

Ruth Amphitheater (aka Don Sheldon Amphitheater)

This sits above the Great Gorge and Lower Ruth Glacier. It is considered one of the most beautiful vistas in the Alaska Range. The Amphitheater is 11 miles from the summit of Denali (plus 3 vertical miles below) and is one of the locations where glacial landings happen in the park. It receives most of the snow falling on the southeast side of the mountain.

Glacier Landings

The 5600 foot section of the Ruth Glacier in Sheldon Amphitheater is one of the places where flightseeing planes conduct a Denali glacier landing. It is not recommended to attempt to hike into the area.

Don Sheldon Mountain House

The Mountain House was built by Alaskan pilot Don Sheldon and can be visited as part of an adventure picnic or a DIY stay for those with backcountry and glacier travel experience. It is a 40 minute flight to the house from Talkeetna and a 15-20 minute hike up to the cabin. The land was claimed in the mid-1950s under the Homestead Act before Denali National Park and Preserve expanded to surround the property.

Sheldon Chalet

The Sheldon Chalet is a 5 room, 1000 square foot hotel sitting at an elevation of 6000 feet on the same property as the Mountain House. There are five bedrooms and 2.5 baths.