Alaska is a grand place. From its wildlife to its landscape, the length of its days to the reach of its tides, there is something special about Alaska. It's rewarding enough to explore with boots on the ground, but Alaska from above takes things to another level.

Denali National Park is an especially wonderful place to see from the air. In the summer it's only a short flight from Anchorage or Talkeetna, a quick jump over lush green forests before you reach the foothills of the Alaska Range. Pushing further into the massif reveals a landscape much bigger than it appears from afar.

During Alaska's marquis sporting event, the annual 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, teams that are larger than life in a side-by-side comparison on the ground transform into miniature replicas when spotted from any number of the many bush planes that fly in service of or nearby the March event. Frozen rivers turn into highways. And the sunset stretches the shadows of dogs into something that more closely resembles camels.

Even Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is put into context. Alaskans from outside the city sometimes joke that Anchorage is only 30 minutes from Alaska, but from the air you can see that it is fully a part of this great state.

Contact Loren Holmes at loren(at)alaskadispatch.com