Boating in Glacier Bay

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 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 anytime between June 1 and August 31. Vessels entering without a permit may be denied access to the bay, asked to leave, and issued a citation. A permit 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.

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 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.

sailboat in Glacier Bay
Vessel Anchored in Bartlett Cove

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 notice permits may be issued to boaters applying no more than 60 days in advance of the entry date. Check our Advanced Notice Date Reference Guide to determine the earliest day to apply. (You may apply no earlier than 7:00 AM on that date)

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 applying no more than 48 hours in advance of the requested entry date. (You may apply no earlier than 7:00 AM on that date)

Vessel operators may apply for private vessel permits by fax, phone, radio, email, USPS mail, or if local to the area, in person at the Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station. Applications sent by email are preferred. Be aware that a permit is required to enter Bartlett Cove and vessels entering Glacier Bay seeking to apply in person may be asked to leave and could be issued a citation. You may contact KWM20 Bartlett Cove on marine VHF 16 to apply for a permit before entering the bay.

Applications are time stamped and handled in order of receipt at or after 7:00 AM. 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 7:00 AM.

Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and a response form will be sent to the applicant. We reply to all applications that are received -- if you do not receive a reply please call the Visitor Information Station at 907-697-2627

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 and 6 nights, for a maximum of 14 days out of any 21 day period. 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, on the day of your schedule exit. If you need additional days please contact the Visitor Information Station upon your arrival for permit 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 Glacier Bay.

boater application thumbnail
Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application

2019 Glacier Bay Boater Permit Application

Complete this application and email back to us at

Note: This is a filliable 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.

Applications accepted starting April 2nd, 2019. Vessel entries are limited during the summer months.

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

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

Visitor Information Station
Open May through September
(907) 697-2627,
Fax (907) 697-2647
VHF marine radio Channel 12 or 16, KWM20 BARTLETT COVE
during regular business hours.

Last updated: July 6, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


(907) 697-2230

Contact Us