Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Travel Guide

  • Glacier Bay
    Glacier Bay
    by Kitty82
  • Entering Tarr Inlet on way to Marjerie Glacier
    Entering Tarr Inlet on way to Marjerie...
    by shrimp56
  • Margerie Glacier
    Margerie Glacier
    by K.Knight

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Things to Do

  • Lamplugh Galcier - Her dirty side!

    As impressive as this glacier is, it certainly has a dirty side. Littered with centuries of dirt, stones and rock that it has calved out of the valley, the glacier shows its dirty face for the entire world to see. The dirt and rocks provide a different, and interesting, view of the jagged edges and searcs before they fall into the ocean and meet...

  • Whale watching.

    While cruising the waters around Composite Island I spotted that familiar plume rising from the tepid waters of Glacier Bay. A pod of whales had decided to come and have a look at the brilliant whiteness and magnitude of the Sea Princess.The Whales came incredibly close to the ship which gave us a bird’s eye view of these beautiful creatures as...

  • Ice fall.

    As I mentioned earlier, the sudden and dramatic collapse of these large seracs, without warning, and the resulting enormous splash and accompanying “booms” as they hit the water, is one of the many attractions that bring the cruise ships to this destination. We were standing on the deck of the Sea Princess for approx 45 minutes before our first...

  • Seracs.

    A serac sits atop just about every glacier in the world. It is a block, or sheer column, of compacted ice that has formed by the ever present shifting of the ice and the pressure that it caused. Intersecting crevasses are caused and the glacier begins to rip apart and buckle at the top.Although they appear small, due to the size of the glacier, the...

  • Margerie Glacier 3.

    To think that it has taken the ice in excess of 200 years to inch it way, compacted and under immense pressure, to eventually snap off the face and come thundering into the frigid waters below with a crack and an ear piercing thunder is amazing. I felt that I was watching the passage of time before my eyes and I tried to imagine what was happening...

  • Margerie Glacier 2.

    I was awe struck with the grandeur of these two towering masses of ice that appeared to rise sharply from the waters of Tarr Inlet. In fact, the face of the Margerie glacier rises from 120 feet below the water’s surface and lives large at a height of almost 300 feet above it!The weather, yet again, was perfect and Anne & I were totally impressed...

  • Margerie Glacier.

    Glacier Bay is certainly a uniquely special and magnificent place. The isolation is imposing, the cold bites you and the beauty of the scenery captivates you.Through the absence of roads and walking trails, and the restriction of the number of vessels that are allowed to plough the Glacier Bay National park, it is a truly rewarding experience to...

  • Grand Pacific Glacier.

    The Grand Pacific Glacier is a rather barren and uninspiring glacier that sits atop the Tarr Inlet. In fact, it is like the ugly duckling of the Glacier family and its existence is made worse considering it lives right “next door” to the rather impressive Margerie Glacier.Although it is barren, and it has receded dramatically, you can an excellent...

  • The Johns Hopkins Glacier.

    Johns Hopkins Glacier is a 12-mile-long (19 km) glacier that sits at the end of Johns Hopkins Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park. Although many of the glaciers are retreating, the Johns Hopkins Glacier has actually been advancing since 1929.Our ship sailed into the Johns Hopkins inlet and we sat approx. 3 miles off the glaciers ice face for approx...

  • Reid Glacier.

    The Sea Princess continued to heighten our senses as it sailed past the Bradley Icefield, located atop Mt Hood. As we neared Russell Island the Reid inlet came into view and we got the very first view of a glacier for the day.The sun was still low in the sky and the blue skies had a smattering of light cloud that was preventing the sun from...

  • Lamplugh Galcier.

    After sailing past Reid Glacier we rounded a point that allowed us to enter Johns Hopkins Inlet. The waters were smooth and the day was getting warm and sunny.On our left, before we arrived a Jaw point, was a stunning glacier by the name of “Lamplugh Glacier.”Her ice was a sensational blue colour on the right hand side, yet she was filled with the...

  • Magnificent Secenery.

    Our ship entered the Glacier Bay Nation Park between Point Carolus and Point Gustavus just after sunrise on August 16th 2010. As we sailed the Sitkaday Narrows, and approached the Bartlett Cove to collect our Park Ranger, the scenery was stunning.The passengers were lined along the decks, cameras in hand, pointing and shooting in all directions....


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Restaurants

  • The Best Seat in the House!

    Remember your Crazy Creek folding chair and your Alaskan Amber - a double kayak can carry a lot :-0 After a day full of hiking, scrambling, paddling, exploring - what better way to finish, than sitting back and just gazing out on one of the most magnificent settings you will ever find. I love Crazy Creek chairs! :-) An Alaskan Amber is a very nice...

  • The Only Available Food in the Park

    Glacier Bay Lodge has the only dining room in the national park. The closest other dining is in Gustavus ten miles to the east. The dining room opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Dungeness crab comes with green beans and mashed potatoes and the main course comes from local waters. One of the most expensive entrees for dinner (market...

  • Cafe Richie

    Besides the incredible views, you never need a reservation, it's just the two of you. Szechwan Chicken from Mountain Valley dried foods. It was actually quite good. Okay, we were starving. :-D


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Transportation

  • By Sea or By Air

    Glacier Bay is a relatively inaccessible national park. No roads lead into Glacier Bay. One must approach by sea or by air. One popular way to see the park is on a cruise ship. However, to protect marine mammals that inhabit the bay, the number of ships allowed into the bay is limited. Not all cruise lines visit Glacier Bay. And the cruise lines...

  • You can't drive to Glacier Bay National...

    There are nor roads into Glacier Bay National Park from the rest of Alaska. To get there, you must fly, or arrive by boat. Most major cruise lines with Alaska cruises visit Glacier Bay (the National Park Service allows in a limited number of cruise ships, subject to various restrictions). You can also visit there on a smaller private boat tour or...

  • Cruising Glacier Bay

    If you are considering which cruise itinerary to follow for your Alaska cruise, you MUST go to Glacier Bay. The towns situated along the pan handle are nice places to visit, but no comparison to the experiences of Glacier Bay.The cruise ship takes you up close to various wonderful glaciers, noteably the Margarie Glacier and the Grand Pacific...


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Local Customs


    Want to know a good way to proceed down the road to divorce? Buy a double kayak! ;-] Some doubles are definitely better than others. Get one with a short throw between the two paddlers - like in some of the cheaper folding doubles - and the occasional clacking of paddles can become a ready source of friction. The hardshells usually have their two...


    The tour boat drop-off/pick-up points are a long ways from the Park Headquarters. When it is time for you to return to civilization, give yourself plenty of time - be packed and ready to go when the boat shows up. Otherwise, it can be a three-day paddle back!


    Not always will you meet the icebergs afloat. Twenty foot tides leave many stranded along the shore, slowly melting away. All sizes and shapes can be found. You can use your imagination and don’t worry …. They are tame enough.


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Warnings and Dangers

  • Ice

    Calving of the glaciers leads to small icebergs floating in the bay. Typically these are fairly small and not too numerous and offer little hazard to ships visiting the bay. However, the floating ice can sometimes become so abundant that ships will not be able to safely approach the glaciers. The ships may seek other opportunities for glacier...


    Icebergs come in all sorts and shapes. Many get stranded by the tides along the shore. There they are left by the sea to slowly melt away or maybe they get lifted out once more by another incoming tide.


    A long summer day’s tour in the kayak or climbing in the surrounding hills, can leave you in quite a sweat. The water is there for you to cool off in, but unless you are a grizzly bear or a seal, you won’t want to be in for long. The is a reason why those ice cubes floating around are not melting that fast! ;-\


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Tourist Traps

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    This poor little guy appears...

    by richiecdisc Written Oct 4, 2002

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    This poor little guy appears to be trapped on this iceberg. Though this was take from the cruise ship, the most amazing thing was paddling through them in front of the Riggs Glacier. The one bad thing about kayaks is the inaccesiblity of your camera especially in the light rain/misty conditions we often faced.

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Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve What to Pack

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by richiecdisc Updated Jan 30, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: You will need some dry bags for your most important items, but generally you put your stuff in heavy plastic garbage bags and then in duffel bags. You can get more in the kayak like this and the duffel bags keep the plastic ones from breaking.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: You will need rain gear and rubber boots. I generally found myself most comfortable in just the rain pants with nothing but underwear. It was a bit clammy at first but once you got paddling, it was warm enough and you didn't sweat up your long underwear. I did wear a long underwear top under the rain coat. As soon as I got to shore, I'd take it off and switch into long underewear and fleece, letting the rain gear dry inside out which took no time at all.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Insect repellent, lip balm, and surprisingly sunscreen. It might not be sunny that much but when it is, you'll be outside all day.

    Photo Equipment: Wide angle for the glacier and 300 zoom for wildlife.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: A good waterproof tent is essential. I like one with a screened area under the fly for times when all you need is a haven from the mozzies.

    Miscellaneous: A big tarp comes in very handy. You can use it to sit on and under in rainy periods. You can cover the kayak to keep rain from getting inside when you're not in it. Best of all, when you're packing, you can put everything on it for a photo. ;-)

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Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Off The Beaten Path


    There are no trails. You make your own way along the sides of the might y tidewater glaciers. Explore. Look in awe at the size of that grizzly bear foot print that is as big as your toy poodle - or Lord forbid … cat! Maybe that was why you slept so lightly the night before? ;-\ We camped alone at Reid Inlet except for one other - a Japanese...

  • Fill 'er up in Gustavus

    Many people reach Glacier Bay National Park by flying into the nearby town of Gustavus, in which there is virtually nothing to delight a visitor. The airport is only a single runway, the terminal only a single room. The town is full of municipal buildings only. On the way to the park however is a little petroleum museum (Alaska's only) with...

  • Beached berg.

    Icebergs are perhaps even more amazing once on land than when view floating. As you can see, there is a lot of an iceberg below the water!


Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Favorites

  • Simply Stunning

    My visit to Glacier Bay was one of the highlights of my trip to Alaska. Although I was not able to explore the landscape onshore, I was treated to fantastic scenery from the ship. The spectacular faces of the tidewater glacier were majestic. The roar of the ice as it calved into the bay illuminated the power of nature. The blue ice of the glaciers...

  • How Are Glaciers Formed?

    Glaciers are formed in high mountains where snowfall exceeds the snowmelt. As snowpack builds up, the weight of the snow presses upon and deforms the snow beneath, which first changes to granular snow, then eventually morphs into ice. As a result of being formed slowly under high pressure, the individual ice crystals can be as large as a football.

  • Old and Still Moving

    The glaciers in Glacier Bay are left over from the bay’s latest period of glaciation, called the Little Ice Age, that began about 4,000 years ago. The existing glaciers are mere remnants of the ice that formerly occupied the region. The glaciers are moving at a rate of about three to eight feet a day. Depending on the slope of the terrain and the...


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