The centerpiece of one of the largest contiguously protected regions of the world, Glacier Bay National Park offers endless possibilities for adventure. Bountiful wildlife, massive glaciers and icebergs, and a stunning, dynamic landscape make visitors feel like they have stepped back in time to a period where nature still reigns. Here are five of our favorite ways to visit Glacier Bay National Park.
1. Glacier Bay Charter Yacht
If you are looking for an in-depth, multi-day experience with a touch of comfortable luxury in Alaska’s most visited National Park, a charter yacht is the perfect option. Days are spent kayaking, hiking and exploring the numerous accessible glaciers of the West & East Arms. Return to the comfort of your vessel every evening for delicious, locally sourced meals. Many vessels have strategically-placed dining areas to take advantage of your natural surroundings, so keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales even during meal time! Permits are limited to only a select few operators with access to Glacier Bay. Booking a year in advance is often necessary as availability is in high demand for prime dates.
2. Glacier Bay Flightseeing
Flying through the rugged, raw peaks of the Fairweather Range separating Glacier Bay from the Gulf of Alaska lends a totally different perspective of The National Park even if you’ve experienced it from the water. This coastal range has overwhelming vertical relief rising over 15,000 feet directly from sea level. Flights originate from either Haines or Skagway and can incorporate a remote beach landing in favorable weather. Fly Drake has over a decade of experience in these breathtaking mountains.
3. Day trips from Gustavus
Gustavus sits at the mouth of Glacier Bay acting as the gatekeeper to the Park. It’s the perfect base camp for day trips into the National Park and the surrounding area. There is a wide variety of accommodations available in this small, service-oriented community including small B & Bs, Inns and full service fishing lodges. Two of our favorites include Annie Mae Lodge & Gustavus Inn, both are owner-operated offering comfortable accommodations and delicious meals. Day trip itineraries should include whale watching at renowned Point Adolphus, fishing for salmon and halibut in Icy Strait, cruising to tidewater glaciers in the West Arm of Glacier Bay, and a day of kayaking out of Bartlett Cove.
4. Multi-day Kayak Trips in Glacier Bay
Folks who aren’t opposed to self-propulsion or sleeping under the stars will be rewarded with wilderness solitude far from cell reception, but within ear shot of the howl of wolves, the call of loons and the rush of a humpback’s blow. Alaska Discovery offers guided trips in a variety of lengths, but 5-7 days is optimal for complete immersion. Un-guided kayaking trips in Glacier Bay are facilitated by permit holders such as Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks who not only provide rental equipment but also help with a host of logistics.
5. Large Cruise Lines
While “Friends don’t let friends see Alaska from a cruise ship”, nearly one million people visit Glacier Bay National Park each year. Watching calving glaciers with 2,000 of our closest on-board friends isn’t our thing, but for a quick hit of all things “Alaskana” the major cruise lines sure know how to herd visitors.
The boundary of Glacier Bay National Park lies only 12 miles from our office’s front door. Feel free to email or call us to discuss options for travel in our neighborhood!