Planning a trip into the backcountry? Careful planning and consideration is required to ensure your safety while traveling Glacier Bay’s immense wilderness. Remember, safety is your responsibly!
Visitor Information Station
The Visitor Information Station (VIS) serves as Glacier Bay's permit office and information center for backcountry users. Attend an orientation and obtain your permit here. If you have questions about your trip, Rangers can guide you and provide local knowledge for the areas you will be exploring. If you would like to speak with a Ranger before your trip, please give us a call at (907) 697-2627 or e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register for permits at the Visitor Information Station. Camping permits are required for overnight groups in the backcountry and for the Bartlett Cove Campground. Permits are free of charge and do not require reservations. At this time, reservations for the campground are not accepted. See Alsek River or Mountaineering in the Fairweather Range for permitting in those areas.
All backcountry users are required to attend an annual orientation with a Ranger before obtaining a permit. These orientations cover Leave No Trace, park regulations, and important safety information. Rangers are available to share their experience and local knowledge with you.
Orientations are given during scheduled times between June and August at 10:00 am, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM. Inquire about May & September times. No need to sign up, just show up! If you need an orientation outside of these scheduled times (with a compelling reason) please contact the VIS.
Summer 2019: We are aware the Alaska Airlines Jet has a scheduled arrival time in Gustavus of 5:35 PM. We will accommodate to the best of our ability folks who will be arriving via the Jet. With this schedule change it is more difficult to arrive via the Jet and leave the next morning on the day boat -- please consider alternatives.
Camping Advisories and Temporary Closures
Wildlife, negative bear encounters, or other safety concerns will occasionally cause advisories to be issued or areas to be temporarily closed for overnight camping.
Ried Inlet Advisory June 14 – July 12, 2019
|National Park Service Dispatch||(907) 697-2651|
|National Park Service||Marine VHF 16|
|Glacier Bay Contacts|
|KWM20 Bartlett Cove||Marine VHF 12|
|Visitor Information Station||(907) 697-2627|
|Glacier Bay National Park||(907) 697-2230|
Leave No Trace
Help us to ensure that future generations will enjoy Glacier Bay as it is today. Choose a campsite where you will leave little or no impact. A good campsite is found and not made. Campsites should be at least 100 feet from fresh water sources. Check at the Visitor Information Station for areas that are closed to backcountry use. Know these areas, and mark them on your maps and charts. Do not approach wildlife. Some animals are easily disturbed. You are responsible for knowing and following all applicable regulations during your visit to the park. Glacier Bay is wild, clean and unpolluted. Remember to carry out all trash (do not burn). Use the intertidal zone for campfires, and preparing and eating food. Generally, the next high tide will erase traces of your presence
Off Season Backcountry Travel
BearsBoth Black and Coastal Brown Bears are frequently seen throughout the park. These are wild animals and should always be considered to be potentially dangerous. When hiking, lessen your chance of a bear encounter by looking for bear signs, making noise, and traveling in groups. Consider carrying bear spray in the backcountry. It is important that bears never come in contact with human food, so NEVER leave food unattended. Keep a clean camp. Store food and any scented items in bear resistant food containers at least 100 yards from your campsite. Do all cooking and eating in the intertidal zone at least 100 yards from your campsite. If you do encounter a bear, remain calm, identify yourself as a human (talk to the bear) and stand your ground. Do not run. You can not out run a bear and fleeing may trigger the bear’s chase response.
An ever present danger in cold climates is hypothermia, a condition created when you lose body heat faster than you create it. Early symptoms of hypothermia include slurred speech, trembling, exhaustion, stumbling, and impaired judgment. Unchecked, symptoms may progress to mental confusion, unconsciousness, and eventually death. Hypothermia can result from cold ambient temperatures between 30 and 60 degrees F, especially when accompanied by wind or rain. Should you get wet, you must be aware that hypothermia will likely follow.
Take preventative action:
Put on rainwear or warm clothes before you become soaked or cold. Ventilate or remove clothing layers before you sweat. Wrap sleeping bags and clothing in plastic bags. Eat high calorie food throughout the day before you become exhausted. Keep hydrated. Make sure all members of your party are aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and look out for each other.
The objective of hypothermia treatment is to rewarm as fast as possible. Begin by finding a spot out of the wind, removing wet clothing, and adding dry layers. "FEED AND HEAT." That is, first provide the body with quick calories that will enable it to produce heat (FEED). Simple foods such as candy bars and hot chocolate will be absorbed the fastest. Follow up with food containing more complex carbohydrates such as bread and fruit. "HEAT" means rewarm quickly by exercising and moving. Walk about or practice isometric exercises inside the tent or shelter. Body movement and exercise will usually affect rewarming considerably more than remaining still under piles of sleeping bags. Avoid alcohol as it increases heat loss.
If a hypothermic patient has ceased shivering, has exhibited a dramatic decrease in mental status such as hallucinations and unconsciousness, and their core body temperature is below 90 degrees, the patient has severe hypothermia. Field rewarming of severely hypothermic patients can be dangerous, and is usually not effective. Transport the patient to the nearest medical facility.
Bear Resistant Food Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters for storage of food, garbage and other scented items was initiated in Glacier Bay National Park in 1991 and is now required for the safety and convenience of campers and kayakers. Since that time, the frequency of incidents where bears have damaged property or obtained food has remarkably decreased.
The use of bear-resistant canisters or other approved food storage method is required in Glacier Bay. All food, garbage, and other scented items (including toiletries, bottled drinks, and canned food) must be placed inside bear resistant food canisters. The National Park Service loans, free of charge, bear-resistant canisters to hikers and kayakers who are staying in the backcountry of the park. They will be issued with your permit from the Visitor Information Station at the public dock in Bartlett Cove.
The canisters are made of PVC (hard plastic), and are lightweight and sturdy. This canister is designed to slip into a camper's backpack. It measures 8" x 12" and weighs 2.8 pounds. With 560 cubic inches of volume it will hold approximately 6 person-days of food.
Plastic liners will be issued with the canisters to help reduce food odors, and because the canisters are not watertight on their own. However, food odors cannot be completely eliminated. Canisters should therefore be stored at least 100 yards downwind of the campsite and well above the high tide line. Canisters should be stored away from obvious bear trails or travel routes. Give some thought to where a canister might roll if a bear does locate it. Canisters should not be used to stabilize cooking stoves, as the heat may melt or warp the canister lids. Canisters do not float.
If you choose to bring your own canister please ensure your specific type and model is approved by the The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) and listed as a certified bear resistant product. We advise against using "screw top" canister because glacial silt and sand may work into the threads, effectively locking them shut, and making it impossible for you to open your canister.
Last updated: July 5, 2019