• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Glacier Bay by Boat

Aerial view of lower Glacier Bay from Beardslee Islands
As its name implies, much of Glacier Bay National Park is water. Most of the land within the park is mountainous, covered with dense rain forest or alder thickets, and without roads or trails. While a few hardy travelers hike, raft, or climb the mountains, the vast majority of visitors travel by salt water. Glacier Bay is a natural waterway from Alaska's Inside Passage to the tidewater glaciers that are the park's main attraction. Its numerous branches, inlets, lagoons, islands, and passages offer virtually limitless opportunities for exploration.
 
visitors looking at glacier from cruise ship deck
Cruise Ships
Most visitors to Glacier Bay see the park from large cruise ships with thousands of passengers. These visitors do not go ashore in the park; instead National Park Service naturalists board the ship to share their knowledge about the park and its wildlife during a day-long cruise in the bay. Learn more about cruise ships in Glacier Bay.
 
tourboat bow with passengers
Tour Vessels
The next most popular activity is to see the bay on a tour vessel. These boats have up to a few hundred passengers. There is one daily tour boat that departs from Glacier Bay Lodge in Bartlett Cove during the summer months, and many other tour boats that include Glacier Bay as part of a longer itinerary. Like the cruise ships, tour vessels have National Park Service naturalists on board. Learn more about tour vessels in Glacier Bay.
 
boat with kayaker in front of mountain

Charter Boats
For a personalized trip in the bay, charter vessels can generally take up to six passengers and are rented to a single group, usually for custom multi-day trips. See Area Visitor Services for a list of charter operators permitted to operate in Glacier Bay.

 
private boater
Private Vessels
If you have your own boat, see our detailed boater information. If you want to travel by water under your own power, see kayaking in Glacier Bay.
 

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Did You Know?

Fish

Crescent Gunnels are often found in seaweed-filled tidepools where they hide under rocks encrusted with barnacles and other growth. Due to their elongated shape they are often mistaken for eels.