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.
Under the vessel permit system, motorized private boat operators are required to obtain a free permit prior to entering Glacier Bay anytimebetween June 1 and August 31. Vessels entering without a permit may be denied access to the bay, asked to leave, and issued a citation. Apermit is required to enter Bartlett Cove, because Bartlett Cove is one of the most heavily used whale feeding areas.
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.
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 on the date application may be submitted, but are considered early and may be denied or moved to a later priority. Please refer to the Advanced Notice Date Reference Guide.
Regulations 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.
Advance application is 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 wish to apply for a short notice permit later.
Short notice permits may be issued to boaters applying no more than 48 hours in advance of the requested entry date. (You may apply no earlier than 7am on that date)
Vessel operators may apply for private vessel permits by fax, phone, radio, email, USPS mail, or in person at the Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station. In addition, vessel operators may apply for permits at the Hoonah office during normal business hours M-F. Please note that this office is staffed only intermittently. Be aware that a permit is required to enter Bartlett Cove and vessels entering the bay seeking to apply in person may be asked to leave and could be issued a citation. You may contact Bartlett Cove on marine VHF to apply for a permit before entering the bay.
Applications are time stamped and handled in order of receipt at or after 7 am. However, applications received in person are given priority over all other applications. Applications with the same date/time stamp are prioritized by 1) email; 2) phone, radio, and fax; 3) USPS letter. Please note that we often receive a large volume of phone calls at 7 am.
Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and a response form will be sent to the applicant.
Permits are issued to the vessel operators and an operator may hold up to 2 permits at any one time. Each permit may be for up to 7 days, for a maximum of 14 days out of any 21 days. Permits are valid at 00:01 on the first day and end at 23:59 on the last day of your permit. You are required to exit the park before the end of your permit. If you need additional days please contact the Visitor Information Station upon your arrival for current availability.
In planning your trip, please note that pets are not allowed on shore anywhere in Glacier Bay National Park except on leash in the Bartlett Cove developed area. 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 make a radio call to "KWM20 Bartlett Cove" on VHF channel 12 or 16 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.