Glacier Bay National Park
Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, located in the capital city of Juneau, spans an almost unfathomable 3.3 million acres and runs the gamut when it comes to geography. We’re talking rainforests, mountains, fjords, and of course, the park’s icy namesake. If you love the great outdoors, you’ll love it here.
Bartlett Cove is closest that you’ll find to “civilization” in the park, and is home to the Visitor Center, a lodge, trails, and kayak rentals. Speaking of boats, cruising is another popular Glacier Bay activity. Many longer cruises, on major lines, dock here for 9 to 10 hours, but you can also opt to explore with a shorter day sail. Want to steer your own ship? If you obtain a permit, you’re free to bring your own vessel out onto the water for an unforgettable experience.
For another truly memorable time, try a “flightseeing” expedition that takes you up and over the beautiful terrain — with glaciers, mountains, flowing waters, and more — via a small aircraft that can seat up to seven passengers. This is also a great way to get an overview of the entire park in a relatively short amount of time.
Love wildlife? There are plenty of animals here, including whales, bears, seals, goats, moose, and more than 270 species of birds! Since so many animals make Glacier Bay their home, you never know what you’ll see next, so you should bring your camera for the inevitable photo ops!
The park offers ranger-guided excursions for all experience levels, and self-guided backpacking and hiking can be a real challenge in Glacier Bay unless you’re a truly advanced trekker. Given the often less-than-ideal weather conditions and abundance of difficult trails, going it alone can be a serious and unnecessary risk for beginners. Let the pros show you around instead!
There are a variety of lodging options in and around Glacier Bay. In addition to the Glacier Bay Lodge, a campground in Bartlett Cove is available for up to two-week stays. Finally, the town of Gustavus, which is only about 10 minutes away, has several places to stay, including inns and bed-and-breakfasts.
Glacier Bay National Park is open all year-round. However, as you might expect, winter brings increasingly inclement weather and services are limited. Spring, summer, and even fall promise more opportunities to experience the best that the park has to offer.