The thunderous splash of calving glaciers is a common sound in Glacier Bay National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site on the border between Alaska and Canada, the massive park gets its name from the huge number of glaciers that creep from snowcapped mountains into the bay, creating spectacular displays of ice and iceberg formation.
The highlight of a visit to Glacier Bay is the opportunity to see (and hear) the birth of an iceberg as it crashes into the water—a phenomenon best seen from the water. Boat tours of Glacier Bay offer the opportunity to watch the icebergs and spot some of the park’s wild residents, including humpback whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles, brown bears, black bears, and blacktail deer. Outdoor enthusiasts can partake in a number of other exciting activities, including kayaking, backpacking, birding, camping, fishing, hiking, photography, white-water rafting, and wildlife watching.
Things to Know Before You Go
Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is a must-see for adventure travelers, animal lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Dress in layers (more than you think you’ll need) as the wind coming off the glaciers is chilly.
Don’t forget to bring rain gear, especially if you plan to hike through the rainforests on shore.
Bring extra camera batteries and keep them close to your body; the cold can drain battery power quickly.
How to Get There
Glacier Bay National Park is only accessible by plane or boat (there’s a single road leading from Gustavus to Bartlett Cove), and most visitors arrive by boat from Alaska’s Inside Passage. The nearest major commercial airport is the Juneau International Airport.
When to Get There
While the national park remains open throughout the year, services in winter (including ranger-led programs) are limited. For the best weather, plan to visit during July or August when with daytime temperatures are in the 70s. Whale season runs from May to September.
Other Ways to Experience the Park
While you’ll want to tour Glacier Bay on the water, plenty of worthwhile experiences await on land as well. The forests and shorelines near Bartlett Cove offer the park’s only developed trails–everything from an easy mile-long loop to an 8-mile (13 kilometer) roundtrip day hike. Camping is also available at Bartlett Cove.