Ideas for Outdoor Activities at Glacier Bay, Alaska

Glaucous-winged gull colony in Glacier Bay
Glaucous-winged gull colony in Glacier Bay | Source

Activities at Glacier Bay, Alaska

The highlight of any visit to Glacier Bay is a close look at the main attraction which are the glaciers themselves. The nearest one is 43 miles from Bartlett Cove.

For boat trips, an excursion boat leaves the lodge every morning during the season for a day-long trip up the west arm of the bay. Park naturalists explain glacial activity while you're aboard.

There are cruises that last 2 or 3 nights on the Glacier Bay Explorer (this one has 32 staterooms for 63 passengers) which offer a chance to look at both arms of Glacier Bay; the longer cruise even includes an excursion into Elfin Cove, Pelican, Dundas Bay, and the Cross Sound/Icy Strait area of Point Adolphus.

Because all the excursions are quite popular, you'll have to reserve ahead of time. Make your reservations through the Glacier Bay Lodge.

If you prefer boating on your own in the park, it would be subject to special regulations in order to protect the humpback whales that frequent the area. You would need a permit to venture up the bay from Bartlett Cove; check with rangers for current information. Fuel and water are available at the cove.

For wildlife viewing, visitors would spot mountain goats, whales, or hair seals sleeping on icebergs. Huge flocks of waterfowl—loons, cormorants, geese, common eiders and other ducks, various gulls and shorebirds, murres, guillemots, and puffins-wheel over coves and inlets. Inhabiting the shoreline are ravens, grouse, and eagles.

During summer, bears are drawn to streams by the large numbers of spawning salmon. At Bear Track Cove, the lumbering animals have worn trails along the stream bank.

Part of the daily activity at Glacier Bay Lodge is sport-fishing outings. Charter boats, which are available at Bartlett Cove, take anglers out for halibut, salmon, and Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout, all abundant in this area. You will need a state fishing license though.

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