Boating in Glacier Bay

Covid-19 Boater Update:

At this time, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve will continue processing and issuing boater permits for the 2020 season as normal. From June 1 to August 31, boater permits will be required for all vessels entering the bay. Orientations and permits will continue to be required. Following National Park Service, Center for Disease Control and the State of Alaska guidelines for reducing the transmission of COVID-19, Park staff is in the process of developing orientations that can be completed remotely. If you are planning to visit Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve for the 2020 season, please continue to check this webpage or contact the Visitor Information Station at 907-697-2627 for updated information on required camper orientations.
Bartlett Cove sunset
Glacier Bay is a fabulous place to explore by boat.

Imagine waking to the sound of a whale blow! You fix your coffee and sit on the back deck while your boat gently rocks, looking out over the magnificent expanse of water and mountains. Suddenly, up pops a curious harbor seal only a few yards away! These are only a couple of the common occurences while visiting Glacier Bay National Park on your own boat.

Vessel use in Glacier Bay is regulated by the National Park Service to protect park wildlife and other resources while providing a range of recreational opportunities to park visitors. Between June 1 and August 31, motorized private boat operators are required to obtain a free permit prior to entering Glacier Bay. Vessels entering without a permit may be denied access to the bay, asked to leave, and issued a citation. Please note that an active permit is required to transit between Bartlett Cove and the entrance to the bay, because Bartlett Cove is one of the most heavily used whale feeding areas.

sailboat in Glacier Bay
Vessel Anchored in Bartlett Cove

When to Apply for a Permit

Regulations (36 CFR § 13.1160) provide that no more than 25 private vessels may be permitted each day from June 1 through August 31. Thirteen (13) of these are designated advanced notice permits and twelve (12) are short notice permits.

  • Advanced notice permits may be issued to boaters applying 60 days in advance of the entry date. Check our Advanced Notice Date Reference Guide to determine the earliest day to apply. Advance applications are strongly advised, particularly from June 20 through July 20. You may reserve up to seven consecutive days, counting the first day of your permit (i.e. 7 day and 6 night maximum). At the peak of the summer season, permits may be difficult to get. If you are denied an advanced notice permit, you may try to apply for a short notice permit later.
  • Short notice permits may be issued to boaters 48 hours in advance of the requested entry date. You may reserve up to seven consecutive days, counting the first day of your permit (i.e. 7 day and 6 night maximum).

Advance Notice Permit Date Reference

Applications will be accepted no sooner than 7:00 AM Alaska Time (AKDT UTC −08:00) on the day the application may be submitted. Applications sent/received sooner than 7:00 AM Alaska Time are considered early and may be denied or moved to a lower priority. Please refer to the Advanced Notice Date Reference Guide.

Vessels at a Tidewater Glacier
Vessels at Margerie Glacier

Application Process

Vessel operators may apply for permits by email, phone, fax, VHF radio, USPS mail, or if local to the area, in person at the Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station (a permit must be obtained prior to traveling to Bartlett Cove by boat.) Applications sent by email are preferred.

When your application is submitted to the Visitor Information Station, it is reviewed by staff and processed into the boater permit system. Applications are handled in the order they are received. Applications with the same date/time stamp are prioritized by 1) email; 2) phone, radio, and fax; 3) USPS letter. Please note that we may receive a large volume of phone calls at 7:00 AM.

After an application has been processed, a response will be sent to the applicant. We reply to all applications that are received -- if you do not receive a response, please call the Visitor Information Station at (907) 697-2627.

Permits are issued to the vessel operator, and an operator may hold up to 2 permits at any given time. Each permit may be issued for up to 7 days and 6 nights, for a maximum of 14 days out of each 21 day period. Permits are valid at 00:01 on the first day and end at 23:59 on the last day of the permit. Boaters are required to exit the park before the permit expires. If you need additional days, please contact the Visitor Information Station upon your arrival for permit availability.

boater application thumbnail
Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application

2020 Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application

Complete this application and email back to us at
Applications will be accepted starting April 2nd, 2020. Please see the Advance Notice Reference Guide for when to apply.
Note: This is a fillable PDF and can be viewed using the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. You may download a free copy of Acrobat Reader from Adobe Systems.This file cannot be edited and saved in your web browser.


Additional Information

All boaters are required to make a radio call to "KWM20 Bartlett Cove" on VHF channel 12 or 16 immediately upon entering the bay (36 CFR § 13.1152(b)) . Boaters must proceed directly to the Visitor Information Station in Bartlett Cove for a required orientation prior to continuing into Glacier Bay. Orientations are offered throughout the day; call the Visitor Information Station at (907) 697-2627 for the current boater orientation schedule.

In planning your trip, please note that pets are not allowed on shore anywhere in Glacier Bay National Park, except on a leash in the Bartlett Cove developed area. Before arriving, you may want to be familiar with other park regulations, particularly those regulations that apply to boaters.
Boating Regulations

Boating Regulations

Whale waters, wildlife closures, dock rules, etc.

Whale Waters Regulations

Whale Waters Regulations

Whales most often feed within 1 mile from shore. Learn how to protect them in Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay Boater Orientation Film

On The Water

Glacier Bay Boater's Orientation Film


Contacting the Visitor Information Station

To submit completed applications, or to request additional information, contact the Visitor Information Station by email, phone, fax, VHF radio, or USPS mail.

Phone: (907) 697-2627
Fax: (907) 697-2654
VHF marine radio: KWM20 BARTLETT COVE on channel 12 or 16
Mailing address:
Visitor Information Station
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
PO Box 140
Gustavus, AK 99826

The Visitor Information Station is open May 1 through September 30.
Hours May and September: 8 am to 5 pm.
Hours June through August: 7 am to 7 pm

Last updated: March 27, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


(907) 697-2230

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