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Glacier Bay National Park

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Glacier Bay National Park

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Introduction

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a United States national park and preserve in the Alaska panhandle west of Juneau. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the area around Glacier Bay a national monument under the Antiquities Act on February 25, 1925. Subsequent to an expansion of the monument by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the national monument by 2116.5 km2 on December 2, 1980 and in the process created Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, with 230.7 km2 of public land designated as national preserve to the immediate northwest of the park in order to protect a portion of the Alsek River and related fish and wildlife habitats while allowing sport hunting.

Glacier Bay became part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, was inscribed as a Biosphere Reserve in 1986 and in 1994 undertook an obligation to work with Hoonah and Tlingit Native American organizations in the management of the protected area. In total the park and preserve cover 13,287 km2. Most of Glacier Bay is designated wilderness area which covers 10,784 km2.

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Geography

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve occupies the northernmost section of the southeastern Alaska coastline, between the Gulf of Alaska and Canada. The Canadian border approaches to within 24 kilometres of the ocean in the St. Elias Mountains at Mount Fairweather, the park's tallest peak at 4,700 metres, transitioning to the Fairweather Range from there southwards. The Brady Icefield caps the Fairweather Range on a peninsula extending from the ocean to Glacier Bay, which extends from Icy Strait to the Canadian border at Grand Pacific Glacier, cutting off the western part of the park. To the east of Glacier Bay the Takishna Mountains and the Chilkat Range form a peninsula bounded by the Lynn Canal on the east, with the park's eastern boundary with Tongass National Forest running along the ridgeline. The park's northwestern boundary, which also abuts Tongass National Forest, runs in the valley of the Alsek River to Dry Bay. The preserve lands comprise a small area at Dry Bay - the majority of Glacier Bay lands are national park lands. The park boundary excludes Gustavus at the mouth of Glacier Bay. The lands adjoining the park to the north in Canada are included in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.

No roads lead to the park and it is most easily reached by air travel. During some summers there are ferries to the small community of Gustavus or directly to the marina at Bartlett Cove.[8] Despite the lack of roads there are over 400,000 visitors each year most of whom arrive via cruise ship. The number of ships that may arrive each day is limited by regulation. Other travelers come on white-water rafting trips, putting in on the Tatshenshini River at Dalton Post in the Yukon Territory and taking out at the Dry Bay Ranger Station in the Glacier Bay National Preserve. Trips generally take six days and pass through Kluane National Park and Reserve in the Yukon and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia.

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Sights and Activities

  • Beardslee Islands - Located a short distance from Bartlett Cove, this area makes a great option for a kayaking day trip. Note that tides may cause water levels to vary by as much as twenty-five feet, and during low tides much of the area can turn to mud flats, so plan your visit carefully. This area is a great spot to see moose, bald eagles, bears, seals, humpback whales and killer whales.
  • Muir Inlet - Much of this inlet is off-limits to motorized boats during the summer months, making it an ideal area for kayakers looking for tranquility. The McBride Glacier, Muir Glacier, and Riggs Glacier are all tidewater glaciers accessible to kayakers. In addition, seals, bears, moose, wolves, and other animals are likely companions while exploring the inlet.
  • John Hopkins Glacier - A massive tidewater glacier located in the bay's west arm. This glacier calves ice in such large quantities that it is seldom possible for ships to approach closer than two miles from the glacier's face.

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Opening Hours

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is open year-around, but services in winter are extremely limited. The Visitor Center is open daily from late May to early September.

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Cost

Unlike most national parks, there is NO entrance fee to enter Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. No camping fees are required at Glacier Bay ational Park.

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Getting There

By Plane

Alaska Airlines provides daily jet service between Juneau and Gustavus during the summer visitor season. Juneau has daily jet service from Anchorage and Seattle. Several air taxi companies provide daily small-plane flights year-round between Juneau and Gustavus.

Air taxis also fly a network of routes that link Juneau and Gustavus to Haines, Skagway, and other southeast Alaska towns. Air taxis can also assist in getting you into Glacier Bay's wilderness. Flying time from Juneau to Gustavus is about 30 minutes. Glacier Bay National Preserve at Dry Bay has air taxi service from Yakutat. Daily jet service to Yakutat is available from Juneau and Anchorage.

By Boat

During the summer months, the Ferry LeConte stops in Gustavus twice weekly from Juneau. The ferry dock is located 9 miles from Glacier Bay park headquarters in Bartlett Cove. Check the AMHS website for schedules, times, and rates. If you are planning on bringing a vehicle, please be aware that vehicle based activities may be limited.

Many tour vessels and large cruise ships schedule a day in Glacier Bay in their Southeast Alaska itineraries. A daily boat tour based in the park conducts trips from Bartlett Cove to the tidewater glaciers.

On Land

Taxis (upon request) and buses (limited schedule) run between Gustavus and Bartlett Cove.

Many local Inns and Lodges even have bicycles for rent.

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Eat

The only dining option in the park is at Glacier Bay Lodge; the town of Gustavus, located ten miles from Bartlett Cove, has a handful of additional options including restaurants and groceries.

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Sleep

There are a number of options for accommodations while visiting Glacier Bay National Park. Glacier Bay Lodge, located within the park at Bartlett Cove is the only lodging within the park. It is open from mid-may through early September.

Nearby Gustavus, Alaska is a charming community of 450 year-round residents. Scattered throughout Gustavus are a number of popular inns, lodges, and B&B's.

A campground (walk-in tent) is located in the park at Bartlett Cove. Maximum stay is 14 days. For those prepared to wilderness camp and kayak, there are virtually unlimited camping opportunities.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 11:10 on Jan 29, 16 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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