Cruise ship in Glacier Bay, Alaska (Photodisc)

Boats anchored in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (NPS/Fritz Koschmann)

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Melinda Webster/NPS)

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska (NPS)


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What to do in Glacier Bay National Park

It's not easy to get there but, once you do, you'll find that a visit to Glacier Bay National Park is worth the traveling effort. Approximately 60 miles west of the state capital of Juneau, the park boasts more than a million acres of breathtaking scenery, including snow-capped mountain ranges, coastal beaches, freshwater lakes, and tidewater glaciers. Marine life, land mammals, and seabirds offer plenty of reasons to break out the binoculars.

There are no roads leading to Glacier Bay National Park. There are air connections to Gustavus, the park's closest neighboring town, from Juneau, Haines, and Skagway, as well as ferry service from Juneau. Sightseers can also take one of the cruise ships that make frequent day trips into the park. Once you've made it as far as Gustavus, it's another ten miles by road to Bartlett Cove, the area of the bay where you'll find the park's headquarters.

Overnight guests can stay at the Glacier Bay Lodge, open from mid-May to mid-September. Campground or backcountry camping are also allowed in the park, though first you'll need to attend a camper's orientation and receive a permit at the park headquarters.

The park offers a myriad of opportunities for witnessing Alaska's majestic natural beauty: Hike a five-mile course through a lagoon and forest at the Bartlett River Trail; watch whales, birds, and other native critters aboard the Taz Cross Sound Express; or take a family kayaking trip with Spirit Walker Expedition. Photography, mountaineering, rafting, and fishing are other popular outdoor activities you can try, and airplane and boat tours allow you to view the sweeping landscapes from yet another vantage point. You can even scratch a sled dog behind the ears—and take a ride behind one, too—at the Great Alaska Husky Ranch.

  • Glacier Bay National Park Travel Q&A