Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve   4 comments

Glacier Bay NP 00Where Is It: The only road connects the Park to the small town of Gustavus … so you can’t drive to get to the Park. You must take a plane or boat; the Park is 10 miles west of Juneau, AK.

There’s a daily jet service, about 30 minutes, via Alaska Airlines in the summer. Small charters and air taxis are available year-round.

The Birth: President Jimmy Carter designated 15 different Alaska areas to be administered by the National Park Service in 1978, and included an expansion of the Glacier Bay National Monument. In 1980m, Carter designated the area the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Hunting is precluded in the National Park, but is allowed in the Preserve.

It Happened Here: The largest landslide/iceslide in modern times happened in 2012. Here’s how NBC News covered it:

“It’s certainly the largest that we’re aware of” inside the park, Glacier Bay ecologist Lewis Sharman told

Larger landslides have happened over geologic time, Marten Geertsema, a natural hazards researcher for the Forest Service in nearby British Columbia, told, but it definitely was “one of the longest runout landslides on a glacier in Alaska and Canada in recent times.”

Moreover, the force was enormous, Geertsema said. No one was present, but had anyone been there they probably “would be blown over by the air blast,” he told the Associated Press.

Officials ruled out an earthquake as the trigger that caused part of the nearly 12,000-foot Lituya Mountain to give way, smothering the ice-white Johns Hopkins Glacier with dark rock and debris over an area a half-mile wide and 5.5 miles long.

Size: 3,223,383 acres in the National Park, and 58,406 acres in the Preserve.

# Visitors: 454,337 in 2012. The attendance is nominal October – April; July is when the people follow the sun to visit the park.

Plants: Glacier Bay is blanketed by a mosaic of plant life, from a few pioneer species in recently exposed areas to intricately balanced climax communities in coastal and alpine regions. Since virtually all the vegetation in the bay has returned to the land in the past 300 years following the retreat of the glaciers, this area is one of the premier sites on the planet to study plant recolonization.

Animals: Marine waters make up nearly one fifth of the park and no point of land is more than 30 miles from the coast. This means that the lives of virtually all the animals at Glacier Bay are tied to its productive marine waters or the biologically rich near shore environment.

Choices: Most visitors see GBNP on cruise ships. The National Park Service operates cooperative services, placing rangers on ships and boats that  offer excursion trips to notable park sites.

Fees: There are no entrance fees.

Staying There: The park operates one 33-site campground that offers a bear-proof food cache, fire-pits and a warming shelter. It’s a walk-in campground, but there are wheelbarrows you can borrow to take your gear to the campsite.

The Glacier Bay Lodge is the only in-park hotel. There are 56 rooms, available Memorial day to Labor day. There are a number of B&B’s outside of the park.

Contact Info:

PO Box 140
Gustavus, AK 99826


Current Issues: From the National Parks Conservation Association:

Recognized as “ground zero” for global warming, Alaska and its national parks are feeling dramatic effects from our changing climate. Alaska’s parks provide a living laboratory where this natural phenomenon can be observed (mostly) absent of direct urban & development influences as temperatures rise.  Glaciers are rapidly retreating and the reduction of the polar ice pack is having an impact on wildlife and coastal communities from increased storm damage to the shoreline. The arctic tundra’s permafrost is melting, resulting in a loss of wetland ponds vital for waterfowl, and changes in vegetation will cause wildlife to move further north in search of food.

Don’t Miss This: From

No matter how you get to Glacier Bay, you’ll need warm clothing. Visitors often say it feels like they’re standing in front of the freezer with the door open when they’re facing one of the glaciers. A hat or scarf to cover your head and a pair of gloves will go a long way toward keeping you warm, and even if you don’t take a heavy coat, pile on all the layers you can muster. For even more warmth, go to your local sporting goods store and pick up some disposable pocket hand-warmers. Wear sunscreen. You’d be surprised how much of the sun’s burning rays get through, even on a rainy or cloudy day.


National Park Service: Glacier Bay National Park

The Natural World In Pictures: Glacier Bay

Journey To My 50th: Glacier Bay

BrotherJimmyHoneysWife: Cruising To Glacier Bay

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