Glacier Bay National Park
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Glacier Bay National Park is located in southeast Alaska. It encompasses 3.3 million acres of mountains, glaciers, rainforest, coastline, and fjords. It’s part of one of the world’s largest international protected areas, and offers solitude and a wildness not found in many places.
Glacier Bay’s weather is influenced by the ocean currents. Surprisingly, this means mild winters (in Alaska!) and cool, wet summers. During the summer, highs are usually between 50-60 ° F, and in the winter it’s unusual for temperatures to dip into the single digits. Winter nighttime lows often range from 25-40 ° F. Bartlett Cover gets about 70 inches of rain a year, so pack for some wet weather! April, May, and June are the driest months of the year, and September and October are usually the wettest.
While those weather conditions are at sea level, if you travel up to the mountains you’re going to face more severe weather with much colder temperatures and snow. Be sure to bring plenty of layers and moisture-wicking clothing to keep you dry.
Travel to and around Glacier Bay National Park is more limited than many national parks, and towns are few and far between. However, the small hamlet of Gustavus is just outside the park, and towns like Haines, Skagway, and Juneau are a short plane or ferry ride away. You may want to set aside time to explore each of them on your trip.
If you’re looking for things to do inside the park, Glacier Bay has scheduled events as well. Most of the events take place during the summer months, but you can find the full calendar here. There are also plenty of activities you can do on your own, including hiking, fishing, kayaking, and flightseeing (exploring the park by small plane).
- Spring 50-60 F
- Summer 50-60 F
- Fall 25-40 F
- Winter 25-40 F
- Coming soon
- Coming soon
RV Rentals Near Glacier Bay National Park
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Glacier Bay National Park Hiking Trails
Because of the vast size and wilderness of the forests and other plants around Glacier Bay, the number of actual marked trails is limited. There are a few trails within the park, and one or two in Gustavus. Many people choose to walk along the shoreline, which is open and allows awe-inspiring views of mountains and sea, along with a chance to see a variety of wildlife.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can attempt to hike through the foliage that grows over most of the inland areas, but the dense growth can be tedious to bushwhack and you’ll definitely want a compass! If you do clear the suffocating greenery, eventually you’ll end up in thinner, old growth forests with spongy mosses, sparkling streams, and a variety of old and young growth trees that make the work worth the effort.
Trails in Glacier Bay National Park
Trails near Glacier Bay National Park
Things to do Outside Glacier Bay National Park
Unlike many national parks, Glacier Bay National Park is unusually challenging to explore by car. Fortunately, there are several unique ways to see the sights of Glacier Bay, along with the surrounding towns and landscapes! At the end of the day, browse Alaskan art at a gallery, or sample the local seafood in town.
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Glacier Bay National Park
While there are no places to camp that accommodate RVs in Glacier Bay National Park, there are some in the surrounding areas. You can camp in Juneau and take the ferry to Gustavus to get to Glacier Bay. Or camp in Skagway or Haines and get there via bush plane, or by heading back to Juneau and taking the ferry across. There is one designated walk-in campground in the park, and numerous places to camp in the backcountry. Since a lot of activities in Alaska are seasonal, be sure the campground you choose is open when you want to travel, and make reservations if you can.
Campgrounds Near Glacier Bay National Park
Find the Best Dumpstations Near Glacier Bay National Park
Dumpstations Near Glacier Bay National Park
How to get to Glacier Bay National Park
The Alaska Marine Highway ferry system provides service from Juneau to Gustavus so visitors can now travel with a personal vehicle, which was not an option for a long time. However, travel around the area is more limited than people used to driving may expect. Glacier Bay itself is mostly roadless - you can reach Bartlett Cove by driving from Gustavus, but everywhere else in the park can only be reached by foot, by boat, or by small plane. Also, parking can be very limited since the facilities at Bartlett Cove were built before vehicles were allowed. The one designated camping area is accessible only on foot.
If you are traveling with an RV, consider camping in Juneau and leaving it there when you ferry to Gustavus and drive to the park. Or you can camp in Haines or Skagway and take a bush plane, or ferry back to Juneau and then on to Glacier Bay.
You can fly into Juneau and take the ferry to Gustavus, or you can travel to Gustavus by a short jet or bush plane. An Alaska Airlines jet services the airport during the summer. Once you’re in town, you can travel via rental car, taxi, or on your own power.
Frequently Asked Questions
Glacier Bay National Park is 3.3 million acres, or over 5,100 square miles. It covers glaciers, mountains, rainforest, and fjords and is part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site.
Parts of Glacier Bay National Park are accessible for disabled visitors. The visitor center, viewing dock, and some paths and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Many guests come to the park via cruise ships so be sure to check with cruise lines on disabled accommodations for this excursion.
Pets are allowed in parts of Glacier Bay National Park. Pets can be on the Bartlett Cove Public Use Dock, on the beach near the dock, on private boats, and within 100 feet of Bartlett Cove park roads and parking areas. Pets need to be leashed or restrained.
Top things to do at Glacier Bay National Park include taking a kayak tour for a one-of-a-kind view of the glaciers, hiking, taking a seaplane tour, or fishing the many lakes and streams...or the bay itself.
The best time of year to visit Glacier Bay National Park is in July and August. These summer months are the best chance for warm weather, and snow has usually melted in many areas, allowing more access to the park and more opportunities for outdoor activities.
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