Glacier Bay National Park

More than 15 glaciers and numerous icebergs that can only be reached by boat

Glacier Bay National Park is a hue nature reserve in Alaska. First of all, this relatively unknown national park in the United States is a colourful mix of mountains and glaciers. Second, it is not easy to get here, so you will never encounter too many tourists.

The park is idyllically located in a bay. It is considered by many to be one of America’s most underrated national parks. At least that used to be the case, now it is slowly becoming more popular. You’ll see for yourself soon enough when you visit it.

This wonderful national park is home to a total of 16 glaciers, 12 of which provide (small and large) icebergs in the bay. Note: There are no roads in Glacier Bay National Park.

Glacier Bay is one of the roughest places in North America. Where you can hike, but also can kayak to experience the glaciers. Most popular is a cruise in the national park. These are the best attractions of Glacier Bay.

Muir Glacier

The most famous glacier is the Muir glacier, which is almost 3 kilometers long and 80 meters high and ends in the sea. It is definitely the highlight of the trip to Glacier Bay.

There is one other good reason to visit. Due to the melting ice caps, the glaciers are expected to disappear one day. Maybe this will be sooner than expected. The famous Muir Glacier in particular is shrinking remarkably quickly.
Typical landscape of Glacier Bay. ©Corno van den Berg

Bartlett Cove

Bartlett Cove is located at the beginning of the bay. And it is actually the only place that is accessible by car. You'll find visitor center, shops and some accommodation. It also has a viewing platform and various hiking routes. There is also a campsite where you can pitch your tent. It’s a good start for your trip to Glacier Bay.

Glacier Bay Visitor Center

The Glacier Bay Visitor Center is located at Glacier Bay Lodge. It is absolutely worth a visit. You will find a lot of information about the area, the glaciers, and all the research that is done here. And peat info about the retreat of the glaciers. With even the prediction of when they will be gone. And that is faster than you think.

Bartlett River Trail (8 km)

The Bartlett River Trail is a popular hiking route. You walk on a relatively easy path through a rugged forest with various places with water along the way. Where you can often see all kinds of birdlife. You will also pass a famous beach. Where bears are regularly spotted. So keep your eyes open. And keep your distance from these animals.

You will also pass a river at the end of the route. The salmon migration can be seen at the end of the summer. And yes, bears often come to that too. But also seals that hunt the fish along the coast. You can do the walk in 4 hours, but with a few stops it quickly becomes 5 to 6 hours. Put on good shoes, it can be very muddy here.

The Forest Loop Trail in Glacier Bay.

Forest Loop Trail (1,6 km)

The Forest Loop Trail is a lovely, but short hike to explore the area on foot. The walking route passes a beach and through the forest with various creeks. It can get very busy here, so make sure to get out early in the morning. Or at the end of the day. Then you also have more chance of wild animals.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships are the best option to simply enjoy the scenery. From the deck, you have a continuously changing view, provided you do not have bad weather. The downside is that you don’t really experience the area.


But there are more options here, including kayaking along the ice floes. For which you do not need kayaking experience, but an experienced guide. This is the way to really experience the area. In other words: From the water, you have a unique view of this lovely area. And in particular on the glaciers.

How to get to Glacier Bay?

Most visitors arrive by cruise boat, who tour southern Alaska. You can also travel by seaplane. Where you have a wonderful view, especially from above on the ice and water.

You can also fly to Gustavus Airport, which is 15 kilometers from the village of Bartlett Cove. From there you can book a cruise to see all the natural beauty.

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