Getaway to Glacier Bay
If you've ever dreamed of the ice age and wondered how our planet might have looked as it emerged from the grip of massive glaciers, pondered how a river of ice could carve mountains into flour or wanted to watch the birth of an iceberg, then Glacier Bay National Park is the place for you!
The extreme topography of Glacier Bay reveals a landscape driven by immense forces. Located along the collision zone between the North American and Pacific crustal plates, coastal mountains here reach almost three miles into the sky, and are still rising. The high summits of the Fairweather Range feed numerous glaciers, some that extend all the way to the sea.
One of the easiest ways to take in the awesome spectacle of Glacier Bay is from the deck of a cruise ship. Several cruise lines provide visits in summer as part of longer itineraries. The Alaska Marine Highway now provides regular service between Juneau and Gustavus, the park's gateway community. Lodging, meals, and fabulous views are provided by the Glacier Bay Lodge and hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and berry picking are avid pursuits of locals and guests alike.
To get up close and personal with a glacier, take the daily tour boat which leaves each morning in summer to explore the wonders of Glacier Bay. Soon after leaving the forested shorelines of Bartlett Cove, the trip enters "glacier country." Trees have given way to small shrubs, and eventually barren rock and gravel. Before long, you'll be face-to-face with a tidewater glacier. Listen for the sound of clinking bergs along the hull, and watch carefully for toppling columns of blue ice, smashing into the sea with a primeval thunder. Few places in the world offer the chance to experience these ancient sights and sounds.
Did You Know?
When Captain George Vancouver surveyed Southeast Alaska in 1794, the wall of ice that filled the bay was (at its greatest extent) 100 miles long, 20 miles wide, and 4,000 feet thick. Just 250 years later, this same ice has retreated 65 miles, the fastest glacial retreat on record.