Boating in Glacier Bay

early morning in Glacier bay
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 from your boat and it is checking you out! These are only a couple of the common occurences while visiting Glacier Bay National Park on your own boat.

Obtaining and Using a Private Vessel Permit
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.

boater application thumbnail
Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application

Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application
Vessel entries are limited during the summer months.
Complete this application and email back to us at


Under the vessel permit system, motorized pleasure boat operators are required to obtain a non-fee permit prior to entering Glacier Bay anytime between June 1 and August 31. Because Bartlett Cove is one of the most heavily used whale feeding areas, the permit is required to enter Bartlett Cove as well as the rest of the bay. Vessels entering without a permit may be denied access to the bay, asked to leave and issued a citation.

Kayaking Glacier Bay

Paddling Paradise

Kayaking Glacier Bay

Whale Waters Regulations

Whale Waters Regulations

Glacier Bay's protected waters allow humpbacks to feed without disturbance from vessels.

Glacier Bay Boater Orientation Film

On The Water

Glacier Bay Boater's Orientation Film

sailboat in Glacier Bay

Boater permit applications for the non-fee permit must be made within 60 days of the proposed date of entry. Permit applications received earlier than 60 days in advance will be returned to the sender. Check our Advanced Notice Date Reference Guide to determine the earliest day to apply. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and a response form will be sent to the applicant. Advance application is strongly advised, particularly from June 11 through August 2, as permits are limited. You may reserve up to seven consecutive days.

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

All boaters are required to call immediately upon entering the bay and proceed directly to the Visitor Information Station in Bartlett Cove for a required boater orientation prior to continuing into the bay.

Please email, mail, fax, or phone requests for an application, completed applications, or requests for further information to the address below.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
PO Box 140
Gustavus, AK 99826
e-mail us
(907) 697-2230,
Fax (907) 697-2654
October through March

(907) 697-2627,
Fax (907) 697-2647
April through September

VHF marine radio Channel 12 or 16, KWM20 BARTLETT COVE
during regular business hours.

Confirming Your Permit

  • A response form will be sent to you upon receipt of your completed application, denying or accepting your preferred entry dates.
  • Please confirm your permit reservation within 48 hours of your scheduled entry date and no later than 10:00 am on your date of scheduled entry by telephone, VHF radio or marine operator. Permits not confirmed by 10:00 am on the entry date will be cancelled. You must enter on the first day of your scheduled permit unless space allows for a change in entry date; contact the Visitor Information Station if you foresee a change in your plans.
  • Vessels are required to call Bartlett Cove upon entering Glacier Bay (Pt. Gustavus across to Pt. Carolus).
  • The skipper is required to stop at the Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station for a brief boater orientation with current information on resource protection regulations, good anchorages and other boating information to help you have an enjoyable and safe trip in Glacier Bay. This orientation is required each year for returning skippers.
Boating Regulations

Boating Regulations

Whale waters, wildlife closures, dock rules, etc.

 What to expect, and current conditions

What's the Weather

What to expect, and current conditions

Commercial Services

Commercial Services

kayaking, lodgng, charterboats, etc.


See also:

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 140
Gustavus, AK 99826


(907) 697-2230

Contact Us