Glacier Bay Wilderness

Person stands on a rock overlooking a large blue bay of water with huge snowcapped mountains rising from the water beyond them.
Screenshot of Glacier Bay wilderness map, an interactive map that shows graphic overlays of land designations, including wilderness, in the region.
Map of Glacier Bay Wilderness

Click image for an interactive map!

The Wild Side

Towering glaciers, amazing wildlife, spectacular mountains...Glacier Bay is overwhelming in its beautiful scenery and magnificent sights. Yet equally remarkable is what we do not see...buildings, roads, bridges, towers. Most of Glacier Bay will never be developed, for much of Glacier Bay has the highest conservation protection our country can give to wild lands: wilderness

Perspectives on wilderness have changed throughout history. A place once feared became a place revered. Fifty years ago the United States made a bold statement to preserve some public lands as forever wild, defined by law as wilderness. The 1964 Wilderness Act, passed with an almost unanimous vote by Congress, created a National Wilderness Preservation System. Today, almost every state in the United States has designated wilderness and many countries around the world emulate the US Wilderness Act.

Glacier Bay National Park preserves one of the largest units of the National Wilderness Preservation System, encompassing more than 2.7 million acres. Glacier Bay also protects a very unique type of wilderness, marine wilderness. 13% of Glacier Bay’s water is designated wilderness, and therefore managed to be wild, untrammeled, and primeval.

To view land designations in and around Glacier Bay, visit an interactive map here.

formline art depicting a man's face
Silhouette of a Tlingit drummer against a bright sunset sky

Photo by Ben McLuckie

Glacier Bay Wilderness as Homeland

The concept of wilderness as defined in the Wilderness Act is a modern construct that emphasizes the value of places with little evidence of human change. But the continued relationship of the Huna Tlingit with their Homeland is as much a part of the wilderness character of Glacier Bay as the glaciers, the bears, and the opportunity for an unconstrained experience. Perpetuating physical and spiritual connections between traditional people and their Homeland ensures that the Glacier Bay wilderness remains a living community.

The Huna Tlingit have known Glacier Bay as their Homeland since time immemorial. Read more about Glacier Bay Wilderness as Homeland in this NPS article.

formline art depicting a man's face
wilderness character document
Wilderness Character Narrative

Glacier Bay Wilderness Character Narrative
Glacier Bay preserves one of the largest units of the National Wilderness Preservation System, encompassing more than 2.7 million acres of glacially influenced marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems. PDF Document

By designating an area as wilderness, we choose to manage it differently. There is considerable thought put into keeping wilderness truly wild. Protecting wilderness goes beyond caring for the landscape. Wilderness protects areas as places where humans exercise humility and restraint. Wilderness provides sanctuaries for wildlife and renewal for humans, offering reservoirs of hope in challenging times. Learn how we manage Wilderness in Glacier Bay.
In Glacier Bay’s wilderness, we have the opportunity to be overwhelmed by sights of glaciers, wildlife, and mountains. Yet there is so much more to wilderness than what catches our eye. Here we can be a part of something larger. We can immerse ourselves in wild lands. We can connect with wilderness, and carry that sense of wildness within us.
Tlingit drummer silhouetted against sunset sky
Glacier Bay Wilderness as Homeland

Glacier Bay is Homeland for the Huna Tlingit, learn more about the importance of Wilderness to Homeland.

Last updated: May 13, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

Contact Us