MORE INFORMATION: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve P.O. Box 140 Gustavus, AK 99826-0140 (907) 697-2230
HIGHLIGHTS: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve provides opportunities for adventure. It is a living laboratory for observing the ebb and flow of glaciers, and it offers a chance to study life as it returns in the wake of retreating ice. The park has snow-capped mountain ranges rising to over 15,000 feet, coastal beaches with protected coves, deep fjords, tidewater glaciers, coastal and estuarine waters, and freshwater lakes. These diverse land and seascapes host a variety of plant communities ranging from pioneer species in areas recently exposed by receding glaciers, to climax communities in older coastal and alpine ecosystems.
There are a number of ways to explore Glacier Bay National Park. There are short trails around the main park facilities, but most people see the Glacier Bay by boat. The park service rents kayaks, and there are also all day excursion boats that take you right up to the calving glaciers in the area. You will often see cruise ships in these same waters, but the park boats are more agile and can get closer to the shore to see the occasional grizzly bear. They can also respond quickly to whale sightings which are also common.
We toured Glacier Bay by ferry and hiked the Forest Loop Trail during our visit at Glacier Bay Lodge. It is a one mile loop trail that begins at the Lodge and ends near the dock. The trail winds through a pond-studded spruce/hemlock forest for one half mile, then descends to the beach.