Bartlett Cove, gateway to the 3.3 million acre marine park, is accessible by road from the community of Gustavus, 10 miles south, or by boat or floatplane at the Bartlett Cove dock (see Vicinity map). Bartlett Cove is the designated developed area for Glacier Bay National Park and in addition to serving as a staging area for visitors going into the park, it is a logistical and administrative base for park operations and management.
The 1984 General Management Plan for Glacier Bay National Park designated Bartlett Cove as the only developed area within the park and described facilities, trails, and road systems that would be provided there. Since that time visitation has increased, visitation patterns have changed, management responsibilities and associated information needs have increased, and utilities have aged. A Comprehensive Design Plan and Environmental Assessment (CDP/EA), completed and released to the public in October 1997, analyzed alternatives for resolving these issues. The plan reviewed options for improving visitor accommodations and opportunities, recognizing Alaskan Native heritage, and providing adequate administrative facilities. Park utilities (wastewater, water, fuel storage, and electrical) need to be improved to meet safety and environmental regulations, and expanded to meet current and projected load increases. The plan also explored alternatives for park and concession housing and maintenance facilities, and park administrative and science offices.