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Last updated: May 25, 2023

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve PO Box 140 Gustavus, AK 99826

907 697-2230

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GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK TOURS

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Icy Strait Premier Whale Watching Adventure

$180 / person

Every summer, humpback whales come to Hoonah in huge numbers to feed on the nutrient-rich waters before migrating south again in the winter. On this tour, you'll have the chance to spot humpbacks and orcas in the beautiful Al READ MORE...

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Sitka Marine Wildlife Exploration by Boat

$179 / person

This small capacity (up to 6 guests) marine tour takes guests to some of the most stunning locales for whale watching and wildlife viewing. Guests will want to keep an eye out for seals, otters, and birds in addition to whal READ MORE...

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About glacier bay national park tours.

Glacier Bay offers some Alaska's most amazing scenery and wilderness. While you're in Sitka or Icy Strait Point, you can visit Glacier Bay National Park to find out what makes it truly spectacular .

You can take a boat tour on a fjord that was formed from a melted glacier. If you want to view majestic wildlife, we recommend a  whale watching tour  via catamaran. Or, if you're interested in history and adventure, you can ride on a hand-carved Tlingit dugout canoe. The boat & land combo tour offers visits to Japonski Island to learn about Sitka's role in WWII.

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glacier bay alaska boat tours

glacier bay alaska boat tours

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Glacier Bay Day Boat

Spend the day on the waters of Glacier Bay and see magnificent tidewater glaciers, ancient snow-capped mountains, whales, stellar sea lions, rare birds, coastal bears, seals, eagles, and so much more!

This tour is the only scheduled day tour permitted inside Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

The Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour takes you on a comfortable, heated, high-speed catamaran ride for an intimate view of marine and coastal wildlife, alongside massive glaciers, and towering mountains.

Your journey takes you to the face of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, two of the many tidewater glaciers found in the National Park. Advance Reservations Highly Recommended.

  • URL : https://www.visitglacierbay.com/
  • Phone : 907-264-4616

True Alaskan Tours

Glacier Bay Getaway

Quick Details

  • Map Marker Location: Juneau
  • Hour Glass Duration: 12 Hours
  • User Ages: Ages 3+

Discover the Majesty of Alaska’s Glaciers and Wildlife

Experience a remarkable day of glaciers, wildlife and stunning scenery. This offering is brought to you by Alaska Dream Cruises. Alaska Dream Cruises is authorized by Special Use Permit to provide guiding and outfitting services in the Tongass National Forest and is an authorized Concessioner of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior

Tour Highlights

  • Live your Alaskan dreams on this extensive exploration of the West Arm of Glacier Bay National Park
  • Round-trip cruise transportation from Auke Bay
  • Stops for photography and viewing at South Marble Island and Gloomy Knob
  • Tidewater glacier viewing, including the stunning Margerie Glacier
  • Narration from a knowledgeable captain and naturalist
  • Opportunities for wildlife viewing, including humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, harbor seals, Steller sea lions, black and brown bears, wolves, mountain goats, moose, and more!
  • Chevron down What to Bring
  • While snacks and beverages will be available for purchase, lunch is not included. Please feel free to bring your own meal items.
  • Keep a rain jacket, hat, and gloves close at hand at all times.
  • Warm Layers.
  • Camera and/or handheld video equipment.
  • A facemask to wear onboard.
  • USD Cash / Credit Cards for onboard purchases!
  • Chevron down Vessel Amenities
  • Complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and select snacks
  • Additional beverages, including alcohol, and snacks available for purchase in the galley
  • Souvenirs sourced from Alaskan makers available in the gift shop
  • Spacious outdoor observation deck
  • Climate controlled interior seating with panoramic windows
  • Includes one, or more, restroom(s)
  • Chevron down Good to Know

Motion Sickness: Persons sensitive to motion sickness may wish to take medication at least one hour prior to the tour departure time.

Tour Minimums: Tours do need to hit a minimum capacity to run. We will contact guests 48 hours in advance if tour has not reached the minimum.

Cancellation Policy: A $10/person processing fee will be charged for cancellations made after the booking is confirmed. Full refund if you cancel at least 7 days prior to the tour date. 50% refund if you cancel 3-6 days prior to the tour date. No refund if you cancel less than 48 hours prior to the tour date. If the tour is cancelled by the operator for any reason, the customer will receive a full refund.

  • Chevron down Participation Requirements

Age Restrictions: Guests must be 3+ due to the longer duration.

Please note: there are no changing tables available, and there is no room for strollers onboard. While there is no charge for children two years old & younger, all guests must have a ticket due to coast guard regulations.

Accessibility: Participants must be able to walk approximately 100 feet down an awning covered passenger ramp with a handrail. Boarding the vessel requires transiting 3-4 steps with non-lifting assistance only. The topside observation deck is accessed via stairs with a handrail.

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Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer

Embark on an exhilarating day trip from Juneau aboard a purpose-built expedition vessel, designed to take you on an unforgettable exploration of the Tracy Arm Wilderness Area.

  • Hour Glass 3.5 Hours

Alaska Culinary Experience & Evening Whale Quest

Embark on an evening wildlife cruise with a local tour operator who has over 50 years of experience offering tours in the region. Enjoy Alaska-themed appetizers as your spot whales and wildlife. Learn about the region’s nature, geography, and history from our onboard naturalist. Indulge in delicious Alaskan-themed appetizers, adding a culinary flair to your adventure.

  • Hour Glass 3 Hours

An Evening at Orca Point Lodge: Dinner & Cruise

Join us on a scenic harbor cruise, coupled with a feast of Alaskan surf & turf, delicious sides and Alaskan themed style dessert served with jams, jellies and honey.

  • Hour Glass 5.5 Hours

Whale Quest & Orca Point Lodge

Enjoy a scenic wildlife cruise and then step ashore on a remote island to enjoy a delicious Alaskan style surf & turf meal in a spectacular wilderness setting.

  • Hour Glass 4 Hours

Whale Watching Wildlife Quest

Embark on a scenic cruise into the Alaskan wilderness that guarantees you will see wildlife, including whales!

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glacier bay alaska boat tours

Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour Review: Read This Before You Go!

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in the US.

It’s home to some surreal glacier scenery and a ton of wildlife. One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a ride on the Glacier Bay Day Tour.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything that you need to know before booking your tour on the Glacier Bay Day (boat) Tour.

Table of Contents

What is the Glacier Bay Day Tour?

The Glacier Bay Day Tour is the premier boat tour for exploring Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

It’s an all day affair lasting approximately eight hours and it will take you to several glaciers and give you chances to encounter the various types of wildlife that inhabit the region including bears, whales, otters, and a lot more.

Related: How to Get to Gustavus, Alaska (Glacier Bay)

glacier bay alaska boat tours

How do you book the Glacier Bay Day Tour?

You can book a spot on the boat tour online here .

Here are the prices:

  • Adult : $243.74
  • Child (Ages 3-12) : $122.69

Note that they don’t allow changes or cancellations within 72 hours.

The boat departs from the Bartlett Cove public dock which is located just outside of Glacier Bay Lodge.

While you don’t have to stay at the lodge to partake in the tour, it’s very convenient if you can book a stay there. I really enjoyed my stay at the lodge and you can read all about it here .

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour Experience

Boarding begins at 7AM and the boat will depart at 7:30AM sharp.

I would suggest that you get there right on time at 7 AM.

That’s because they will begin the boarding process then and allow you to choose your seat which will probably be where you will be seated the entire time.

Related: Mendenhall Glacier Ultimate Guide: Tips for Exploring

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour dock

We chose to go directly upstairs and lock down a seat but there really aren’t any bad seats.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour dock

There are two cabin levels and both have indoor seating sections with large windows. I believe the seats are even heated.

The bottom level is larger than the top level and is where you will find the concession stand, ranger table station, and the bathrooms.

Glacier Bay National Park boat seats

Our catamaran had three one-person bathrooms, which come with a sink and hand dryer.

Glacier Bay National Park boat seats bathroom

The concession stand offers free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate and you can purchase soda along with alcoholic beverages.

They also have a variety of snacks like chips, chocolate bars, and a host of souvenirs. Prices are listed below.

Glacier Bay National Park boat concession stand

The bottom deck has a small dedicated ranger station table where you can find maps and other resources. It’s really helpful to follow along with the help of one of their maps so you can know what you’re looking at.

Glacier Bay National Park boat ranger stand

Don’t forget to get your passport stamp!

Glacier Bay National Park boat stamp

As for the views, you should be able to get some good views from downstairs. Each window has a towel to help you wipe it down in case things get fogged up which will likely happen.

Glacier Bay National Park boat windows

The top level is where we spent most of our time.

It’s a smaller cabin but I preferred the higher vantage point for spotting wildlife.

Glacier Bay National Park boat second deck seats

Whenever we spotted something interesting, a lot of passengers from downstairs flooded the viewing deck so being upstairs just makes it that much easier to get a good front-row seat of the action.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Weather & water conditions

Weather can be an issue on these tours.

Once we started, it didn’t look like we would have a nice day on the water. Visibility was very limited and rain showers made it uncomfortable to be outside.

But things eventually opened up a good amount so don’t get too discouraged if the day doesn’t start off very nice.

Water conditions were great and I think they are usually pretty calm because you are not in the open ocean.

If you are prone to seasickness you might still want to take some Dramamine but chances are you will not have a bad time.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Even with low visibility we spotted some whales and sea otters.

In fact, the first whale we saw came about 10 seconds into the tour which was a nice surprise.

As for the sea otters, you can expect to see dozens and dozens or perhaps hundreds of these fury animals on your tour. Their population has made a huge rebound over here.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otter

Sometimes otters are bobbing away by themselves but other times they hang out in “rafts” with as many as a dozen or more otters together.

It can sometimes be a little difficult to distinguish kelp from the otters but usually the big clown feet sticking up in the air is a dead giveaway that you’re looking at an otter.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otters

Shy otters will quickly dive below the surface when you approach but other curious otters will hang out on the surface giving you a great view.

Take a close look at them and you might see a smaller baby otter floating on top of a mama.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otter

Things started to get exciting as we approached South Marble Island.

This is when visibility started to get a little bit better and when we really got a close look at some of the wildlife. So have your camera ready.

You’ll find a ton of stellar sea lions hanging out and jockeying for position on the rocks.

Glacier Bay National Park South Marble Island seals

It’s also a great place to catch puffins which will likely be on the water’s surface. They have two types of puffins out here and we saw the “Tufted Puffins.” (The Horned Puffins are more rare to see.)

Glacier Bay National Park puffins

Take a close look at these birds and you might see some with a mouth full of fish!

Glacier Bay National Park puffin

Equally entertaining is watching them takeoff. Not the most graceful as they are better swimmers than they are flyers.

Glacier Bay National Park puffin

The eagle-eyed park ranger and supporting staff is always on the lookout for wildlife during your tour.

You can stand near them to help you find the wildlife but they will also broadcast over the speaker system when something cool is found.

One instance where they really helped us spot wildlife is when we encountered the mountain goats at Gloomy Knob which were perched high on the grey rocks. You can see two of them in the middle of the photograph below.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour Mountain goats

It didn’t take very long for us to spot our first bear which was a beautiful brown bear roaming the intertidal zone. A pretty unbelievable site.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour brown bear

This is also when I realized just how covered the intertidal zones were with marine life. I had never seen so many sea stars in my life and many of them were quite huge .

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After the bear sighting, we ended up seeing another brown bear although this one was farther away.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour brown bear

In addition to that, we also had a black bear sighting with a mama and cub and then another black bear sighting near the end of the tour.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour black bear

So that was a total of five bears spotted!

The humpback whales were also very active on this day. We probably spotted ~15 to 20 of them.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales

Many times, they were together in pods of 3 to 5 which made it really easy to spot the blowholes.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales

Other times, it was just one solo whale doing its thing.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales

Later on, we did a whale watching tour from Juneau which was nice but we did not spot nearly as many whales on that tour so I really do think this is a prime whale watching location.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whale

The other fascinating marine life had to be the orcas.

Two of them made an appearance later on in the tour and I was surprised to see that they were relatively close to a couple of the humpback whales.

The killer whales are easy to spot because of their large black dorsal fin. I’ve never seen killer whales before so this was an amazing first encounter for me!

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour orca

You see a handful of glaciers on your boat tour including several tidewater glaciers, which are glaciers that come down to the surface of the ocean and it’s what makes Glacier Bay National Park special in my opinion.

You’ll know you’re getting close to the glaciers when it starts getting a little colder and you start spotting white chunks of ice drifting in the water.

Some of them are small but others are quite large although I don’t think many or any would be officially classified as icebergs since they don’t need the size requirements.

Glacier Bay National Park iceberg

Some animals like to hang out on the big chunks of ice so be sure to scan them for wildlife.

Glacier Bay National Park iceberg

The main glacier attraction on our tour was the 21-mile long Margerie Glacier, found at the northern end of Tarr Inlet.

It’s a stable glacier neither advancing nor receding and about 1 mile wide. If you count the 100 feet of glacier below the water’s surface, the total glacier stands about 350 feet tall. That’s a lot of ice.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier

Right when we showed up a small calving event took place.

We stood in amazement as large pieces of glacier break off and crashed into the ocean.

This is one of the most active glaciers for ice calving, so your boat will stop and hang around for a while so that you can witness some of the action. Have your camera ready because it happens fast. If you hear it, it may be too late.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier calving

I’d estimate that the “splash” hit about 40 to 50 feet high.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier calving

We then waited for another calving event but unfortunately that was all the glacier had offered for us that day.

I will say that I thought we were going to get a little bit closer to the glacier although I understand there is such thing as getting too close.

If you look to the right of the glacier in the photo below, that is the much less photogenic Grand Pacific Glacier and the border with Canada is just beyond that.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier

Luckily, we still had a few additional glaciers to spot on the way out like the Lamplugh Glacier. This is a glacier that suffered a massive landslide back in 2015 which now covers a large portion of the glacier. (I don’t think the landslide is viewable from the boat.)

Lamplugh Glacier.

Another beautiful glacier was the 11-mile-long Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier

Sometimes, you’re not exactly sure as to what glacier you’re looking at but all you know is that it’s quite a striking scene!

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Somehow a piece of ice landed on our boat!

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Included in your tour is a complimentary lunch consisting of a sandwich (turkey, roast beef, ham), potato chips, snacks, and bottled water. Veggie options are available, too.

It’s very basic but you (hopefully) did not come here for the food….

Whenever lunch is served, a line will form downstairs that can get quite long although it moves relatively quickly.

So my advice would be to get moving as soon as they announce lunch so that you can avoid waiting in line. However, if you’re not hungry I believe you can pick up lunch items later on.

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What to wear

If you plan on spending a lot of time inside the cabin and only coming out to check out some sites then all you probably need is a standard waterproof jacket with an insulating layer underneath. A beanie or some type of hat and gloves would also be nice.

But if you’re planning on spending the vast majority of your time outside like I did you probably want an additional layer of protection. That’s because when you’re moving the wind chill can get you shivering real fast.

I stayed pretty warm utilizing a balaclava facemask which really helped with the wind on the upper deck.

I pulled my waterproof jacket hood over my head and switched between a beanie and hat to keep me warm. Underneath my jacket I had a pull over fleece which worked pretty well although at times I was tempted to put on my puffer jacket.

When the cold would really become an issue I would head inside for a few minutes to warm up and grab a glass of tea or hot chocolate. Then I would be right back out.

When outside on the upper deck, the warmest spot is directly behind the cabin because you are sheltered from the wind. You can still peak around the corner to get your photographs or views.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

How to spot wildlife

If you’ve never been on a tour like this before you should know that spotting wildlife is not always so easy.

First, let’s state the obvious: there is no guarantee of wildlife showing up although some animals like otters, seals, and whales seem like they are virtually guaranteed in season.

Second, it’s really helpful to have proper expectations when going on a tour like this.

Many of the animals you’ll be seeing will appear much smaller than you would think when they are perched hundreds of feet high on rocky hills or when they’re strolling along the beach hundreds of yards away.

So here are some good tips to consider:

Get some binoculars

In my opinion, binoculars are a necessity on a trip like this. You don’t have to break the bank to get a decent pair of binoculars, either. Look for binoculars with a magnification of either 8 or 10, and a lens size of 40 or 42. Here is a highly rated pair you can find on Amazon .

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Pay attention to the rangers

Listen to the park rangers and they will tell you which direction to look (e.g., 3 o’clock). They are also good about helping you locate objects by following mountain ridges, tree patches, etc.

Remember port side is the left side of the boat and starboard is the right side .

glacier bay alaska boat tours

You need to be quick because the boat can’t always slow down in time and sometimes you only have a few seconds to see something. Auto focus will really help you out here.

If you’re recording video, just start slowly zooming in towards the direction everyone is pointing and you might be able to capture the wildlife if your naked eye is struggling to see it.

I regularly switched sides on the boat to maximize my odds of seeing wildlife.

Unless I was specifically looking for whales, I usually focused on the side nearest to the shore since that is where you find bears, moose, etc.

Don’t give up!

On several occasions I struggled to find whatever animal was spotted and just before I was about to give up, there it was! Don’t give up on searching for the wildlife until there’s absolutely no chance to see it.

Camera gear

This was my first true attempt at wildlife photography.

It was also my first time using a 300mm lens, so this was a pretty big learning experience for me. A true trial by ice one might say….

I feel like a 300mm is good enough to get some great shots of some of the wildlife whenever they are relatively close, especially things like the otters and some whales.

But I really think 400mm+ is where it’s at.

A faster lens with a large aperture is going to be ideal although those can get expensive. Consider renting or purchasing a used lens on Amazon/Ebay to save a lot of money.

At least one person had a tripod so lugging around a huge lens is a possibility if you’re willing to put up with it. A monopod would probably be better, though.

And if you don’t have a fancy DSLR, you can still get good footage with something like an iPhone — you just won’t be able to capture the fine details on objects far away.

Taking in all the scenery

In your quest to spot all the wildlife you can and to catch some calving ice at the glaciers, you might get distracted enough to forget to take in all of the scenery.

There are nonstop photo opportunities throughout the tour so be sure to dedicate some time for some landscape photography.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

They limit the amount of cruise ships in the bay every day so you’ll be delighted to know that it’s not a madhouse out there with cruise ships.

Honestly, I thought it was pretty cool to view the cruise ships because they make for good photos and provide great scale for the landscape. Here are a few shots I got.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

The Glacier Bay day tour is one of the best ways to spend an entire day in Glacier Bay National Park. The experience surpassed my expectations in almost every regard. You’ll be blown away by the scenery and constantly amazed by the wildlife appearances.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo . He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio .

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glacier bay alaska boat tours

Alaska’s Northern Passages & Glacier Bay

Whales, puffins & more.

June 29 - July 6, 2024

  • Full Itinerary
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Travel Details

  • Trip Reports
  • Know Before You Go
  • Other Trips You May Like

There is no place in the world like Alaska, a wilderness so special that many of our guests return here again and again. Enjoy a fabulous week cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage and visiting Glacier Bay National Park, a bucket list trip featuring whales, puffins, glaciers, icebergs, and possible Grizzly and Black Bear, all under a midnight sun. We spend a full day in glorious Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and another amid the towering Hemlocks and Spruce in Tongass National Forest, with optional bushwhacking hikes that yielded sweet wild blueberries and bear tracks for our 2022 group! Large pods of Orca and bubble-feeding Humpback Whales can be spied from the ship, as well as Brown and Black Bear moving onshore. Our time passing among the fjords in glacial waters is unforgettable and beachcombing shore excursion opportunities are plentiful. Our premier small ship, Safari Endeavor , serves lovely chef-prepared meals with local seafood options and features a hot tub and gym, depending on your relaxation style! Kayak, skiff, or even take a polar plunge if you dare. You will not soon forget your time among the fjords and glaciers. Our adventure starts in historic and culturally rich Sitka, first settled by the Tlingit people and later a Russian fur-trading post — picturesque and fascinating and worth an extra day if you choose to come early. Why travel with Naturalist Journeys and not just book your own cruise? Because you won’t pay any more than you would to the operator, and you will get a much more personal experience. You will be part of a smaller, like-minded group, led by our personable host and experienced naturalist, in 2024 the charming Ann Bugeda. We will also send you a species list at the end of the tour, a final memento of our time kayaking, watching birds, and spotting whales aboard ship!

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Tour Highlights

  • Experience Alaska’s rich abundance on long summer days, perfect for exploring
  • Embark on a tour of Glacier Bay National Park guided by a National Park ranger; search for both Marbled and Kittlitz Murrelets, other wildlife and watch ice calving into the water
  • Visit lush forests of Tongass National Forest as we cruise narrow passages through towering Hemlock and Spruce
  • Spot Humpback, Orca, and Minke Whales on a whale-watching cruise on Icy Strait … marine mammals galore!
  • Be part of a smaller, like-minded group, and enjoy the benefit of a Naturalist Journeys leader who serves as a host and additional naturalist, facilitating interactions and acting as an additional attentive guide.
  • Enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay aboard the Safari Endeavor , our premier small ship with terrific chef-prepared meals, a bar, hot tub, exercise equipment, and more

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sat., June 29 : Arrivals in Sitka | Embarkation from Baranof Island

Hello, historic Sitka! First settled by Tlingit Indians, then a Russian fur trading post, Sitka is not only picturesque, but also has a rich cultural heritage. We suggest you arrive early to explore ahead of the start of our voyage. Sitka has scenery, history, a raptor center, a National Historic Park, and a fine local museum. It is a small city and one that is easy to get around. Today, it’s all aboard! There is nothing like a hearty greeting from your guide and the crew, and some bon voyage bubbly as we start our adventures. The Safari Endeavor’s sundeck, bar, and bridge areas allow us commanding views of lush forest and endless shorelines in the maze of islands we navigate. Whales may appear at anytime, often close enough to the ship that we can hear them breathe. Mainland Baranof is said to have a higher population of bears than humans, so we watch the shorelines for our first possible sightings. Birding is varied and fun, including regular sightings of several species of loons, Tufted Puffin and other seabirds, and ever present Bald Eagle. The scale of scenery in Alaska is profound, starting with Baranof’s big and wild country; this island is almost as large as the state of Delaware.

Sun., June 30 : Krestof & Nakwasina Sounds

Today brings a rich taste of Southeast Alaska’s iconic beauty with secluded coves and lush, tree-covered islets. We are in the Alexander Archipelago of Alaska’s long panhandle and you find that there aren’t many straight lines along Baranof Island. Its western side is spattered with remote, uninhabited islands. In these quieter, protected from the wind waters, we explore via kayak, paddle board, or comfortable skiff. On the water we are on the level with curious sea lions and possibly whales. Ashore, rocky intertidal zones make good beach combing. Turn a stone or two to see what’s underneath as we listen to the “chirp” of Bald Eagles overhead. There are no groomed trails here, but we can explore with our ship naturalists on guided hikes that John Muir would approve of. Skiffs are always at the ready to take us out to explore. With luck today we may spot Harlequin Duck, three species of scoters (White-winged, Black, and Surf), Common Merganser perhaps with chicks, Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and while ashore, tiny and busy Golden-crowned Kinglet and with them, beautiful breeding plumage Townsend’s Warbler. Back aboard ship there are always treats; you can watch our progress with charts from the bridge, spot wildlife, sip your favorite beverage, and celebrate that you are here in the long days of sunlight. In the evenings naturalist guides offer presentations.

Mon., July 1 : Sergius Narrows | Neva Strait

Listen to calls of Swainson’s and Varied Thrushes as we cruise within the eerie, enigmatic feeling of these mature northwest woods. Morning fog catches like cotton balls on trees. The aptly named narrows we navigate today squeeze to only 300 feet wide in one spot and are a shallow 24 feet deep. The shorelines are close and it’s good territory to go ashore—to walk, play, or study the region’s intriguing natural history. The forest floor is an elfin realm of fascination with mosses, liverworts, lichen, and wildflowers. As we skiff ashore, we pass Sea Otters, floating on their backs as they crack snacks rested on their bellies. Marbled Murrelet feed close to shore, while Glaucous-winged Gull swirl overhead. Opening at Hoonah Sound, the squeeze is back on. We wind into Neva Strait, watching for Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Red-necked Grebe. Watch the scenery change in the late fading light, perhaps from your perch in the hot tub! And meal time each day is a special treat, with big windows so we can watch wildlife and scenery while sampling fresh local seafood, a variety of international dishes, homemade pastries, and other treats. Celebrate Independence Day in a far-flung fjord of the 49th state. This is an all-inclusive voyage so drinks are on us— enjoy!

Tues., July 2 : Peril Strait | Chichagof Island

If you like, kick off the morning by joining your ship guides on-deck for some yoga stretches. Today we follow a twisting channel known for dramatic currents. Peril Strait runs 50 miles to Salisbury Sound. It holds sublime beauty and some tricky navigation. We should see working fisherman, and perhaps flocks of Brant Geese, Long-tailed Duck, Horned Grebe, and the ever-present Mew Gull are joined by Black-legged Kittiwake and Bonaparte’s Gull. Meander through glacier-carved fjords along the Chichagof coast. Then stop. It’s a prime time to lower the kayaks and skiffs. Along the beaches we may spy Black Turnstone, Rock Sandpiper, or at a stream crossing, American Dipper. In the woods, listen for the call of tiny but vocal Pacific Wren. Offshore, watch for both Pacific and Common Loon. Binoculars and cameras in hand, we set off on land and sea explorations, searching for giant trees and tidal pools. Closer inspection by skiff, moss-dripping trees run right down to the water and we scan the shorelines for birds. Any bears in there? Salmon streams dot the coastline—and where there are salmon, there are bears—both black and grizzly, which grow huge on this rich and abundant diet. With one of the world’s largest populations of these coastal grizzlies, also known as brown bears, it’s quite possible to see them. Experienced guides give safety guidelines as they explore and observe with us.

Wed., July 3 : Icy Strait

Nearly to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, Icy Strait is remote and wild. Welcome the morning with a hot cup of coffee as you take in the grand views from the deck. The plan today? Whales, seabirds, and marine mammals—Icy Strait, with its rich ocean upwelling, is a wildlife admirer’s dream. Alaska is known for whale viewing, and Icy Strait is the best of the best! Enjoy magnificent scenery as we watch for pods of Humpback that have swum back from Hawaii (and farther!) to feed in these nutrient-rich waters. Spouts and fin slaps are certain giveaways and where whales feed there are often dense feeding flocks of kittiwakes, gulls, and alcids. We have excellent opportunity here, and in Glacier Bay tomorrow, to view Horned and Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murre, Ancient Murrelet, and Red-necked Phalarope in good numbers. We look for Orca, Minke Whale, and Dall and Harbor Porpoises, as well as Steller Sea Lion and Sea Otter. As we see the whales, we interpret their behaviors. We have great hopes of seeing them bubble-feed?grouping up under a school of fish, diving down, and rising to surround them while making a “net” of bubbles. Our ship’s naturalists are versed in everything Alaska—marine biology, plants, and even geology—a perfect topic today with such grand views. Perched above around the bend, watch for mountain goats, and lower along shore, foraging bears. Up bay, glacial silt turns the water a milky white. Lounging Harbor Seal laze on bits of bergs. And if time allows, we tuck up in Tidal Inlet. End this very full day with your feet up, taking in the enormity of it all.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Thurs., July 4 : Glacier Bay National Park

Today we’re in for a real treat. What a privilege. At 3.3 million acres, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve is massive. At Bartlett Cove, a national park ranger comes aboard to share expert insight as we explore Glacier Bay National Park. The park service describes Glacier Bay National Park as a “land reborn, a living lesson in resilience.” And who wouldn’t be inspired by this stunning park? From ground-hugging plants that began on land scraped bare by glaciers, to roaring blocks of ice calving from tidewater glaciers and crashing into the sea, a day on the water in Glacier Bay is a thrill. For birders it’s also a great chance to see Kittlitz Murrelet, rare to see but much at home in this glacial realm where they breed high up on mountain hillsides. We often find them where glacial streams meet the fjord and we get fantastic views. Have your binoculars handy: Bald Eagle patrol the skies, and smaller seabirds like Pigeon Guillemot are ever watchful. Throughout the day we may spy Orca, Minke, and even Humpback Whales. On land we look for Mountain Goat—one year we were incredibly lucky to spy a pack of wolves down on the distant beach stones. We cruise by South Marble Island, a birder’s slice of heaven. See Tufted and Horned Puffins, Common Murre, Pelagic Cormorant, and Black-legged Kittiwake. The sights and sounds (and smells) are amazing! Over 300 Steller Sea Lion use the island to haul out and pup—you can hear and smell them before you see them! We cruise to the far end of John Hopkins or Tarr Inlet where glaciers calve into the water. Compare Margerie to Grand Pacific Glacier—one holding steady, the other retreating. Back at Bartlett Cove, if time and daylight allow, we may opt to take a forest hike around the park’s headquarters; and take a peek at some of the new cultural demonstrations as we say farewell to our ranger.

Fri., July 5 : Chatham Strait or Lynn Canal—Captain’s Choice

In this intricate part of the Inside Passage, long navigable passages stretch between island reaches of the Tongass National Forest. Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal both offer adventure aplenty and we go with our captain’s choice today. In deep, rugged fjords, we anchor on remote beaches to hike through moss-covered trees and rain-fed waterfalls. Or, some may stick to the water on a kayak excursion—don’t forget to look above and below the surface. A nosy seal could be watching your every stroke. Some may simply choose to birdwatch or beachcomb along the rocky shores—a final day to savor the splendor of Southeast Alaska. Black Oystercatcher may put on a show along the shoreline, in forests we look for Red-breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Steller’s Jay, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Fox Sparrow, and possible White-winged Crossbill. Tonight, we toast another grand day in Alaska. Then, we celebrate with a festive farewell dinner and “photo journal” from our expedition team. You Naturalist Journeys guide helps tally up the final bird and wildlife list for our voyage.

Sat., July 6 : Juneau | Disembarkation

We enjoy a final breakfast of fresh baked pastries before disembarking and saying a goodbye to the crew and friends, old and new. This morning, you transfer to the Juneau Airport, or alternately you may wish to stay on and explore a bit, take in local sites and Juneau’s excellent museum. Note that several flights back to “mainland” USA do not leave until midnight, giving you much of the day to explore. There is a nice waterfront area to stroll, and a tram that takes you up to tree line.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Cost of the Journey

Costs are as follows: 

2 Navigator Cabins ($7000 DBL / $12,300 SGL) located on the main deck with an inside entrance, which features a queen bed, two porthole windows and a private bath.

2 Navigator Cabins ($7000 DBL / $12,300 SGL) located on the upper deck with an outside entrance, two fixed twin beds, a view window and a private bath.

5 Trailblazer Cabins   ($7700 DBL / $13,500 SGL)  located on the upper deck with an outside entrance, two fixed twin beds, a view window and a private bath.

There is an additional $375 port tax/fee per person. The tour cost includes 7 nights aboard the Safari Endeavor , all meals onboard the voyage including alcoholic beverages, all excursions with professional guides, and miscellaneous program expenses, transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark days; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-ship adventure activities and equipment; wellness amenities: fitness equipment, and yoga mats. A photo slide show will be provided with images from your trip as a voyage keepsake. Not included is the flight into Sitka and out of Juneau. The tour cost also does not include items of a personal nature such as telephone charges or optional activities. We highly recommend a gratuity for local guides and the ship crew, which is recommended at $250 per participant.

Please note: Cruise payments are subject to the terms and conditions of the cruise company, UnCruise Adventures, we contract with and may be fully non-refundable. These terms and conditions are primary over those of Naturalist Journeys.

Naturalist Journeys’ Added Value: Why cruise with Naturalist Journeys? First and foremost, it doesn’t cost you more to cruise with us. You pay the same rate you would if you booked directly through the operator. That’s where the perks come in! When you book with Naturalist Journeys, you’re part of a group. We send a leader with you who adds excellent hosting and interpretation skills, and facilitates group interaction. We also send you a species list and trip report once the trip is over. So really, you get the benefit of a small-group guide without the added cost!

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival Airport: Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT)

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive June 29, 2024 no later than 2:30 PM.

Departure Airport: Juneau International Airport (JNU)

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart July 6, 2024 after 11:30 AM.

Travel Tips: We strongly encourage you to arrive a day early, on June 28, to ensure you do not miss the ship due to flight delays or cancellations. If you dxo arrive early, we recommend booking a room at the  Westmark Sitka Hotel . If you want to explore Sitka, there is picturesque scenery, culture and history, a fine local museum, and the Sitka National Historic Park. It’s a small town that is very easy to get around.

If you want to stay in Juneau a little longer to explore or rest up before flying home, we recommend the  Four Points by Sheraton Juneau . There are lots of things to do in Juneau including the Mendenhall Glacier, many hiking trails, and the Alaska State Museum. The waterfront area has many shops and restaurants and is nice to walk around. There is also a tram that takes you up to Mt. Roberts for scenic views of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel. Juneau is easy to get around with taxis or Uber.

Items of Note

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience. The Safari Endeavor Polished, unwavering, and upscale, the Safari Endeavor may be the workhorse of the fleet but it’s her zest-for-life persona that’s remembered most. She looks sharp—a nod to the crew who work hard to keep her that way. Wood fixtures and accents shine and artwork highlights the warm and cool waters where she sails. No other UnCruise vessel covers more territory, and like her namesake, Captain Cook’s Endeavour, both the ship and crew are true explorers. Her roomy lounge, dining room, and sun deck are undisputed, but the Safari Endeavor claims to have the biggest heart, too. Four decks are fully equipped for comfort and action. From the exercise equipment and lounge chairs in the Bridge deck, to the twin hot tubs on the Upper deck, to the Bow viewing area on the Cabin deck, to the library and dining room on the Main deck, everything you need is easy to reach. The Lounge has a large flat-screen TV featuring closed-circuit channels which include a GPS map of the location of the ship and an under-bow camera. The lounge also has a limited library, filled with wildlife encyclopedias and binoculars are available for wildlife-spotting. The Dining Room features open seating. Meals are served at table at set times, unless the activities have taken you far afield - in which case you will take a boxed lunch with you. Unlimited beverages, alcoholic and non, are included in the price of the cruise. Vegetarian options are always available. Dietary restrictions are happily accommodated with advance notice. Onboard Features: EZ Dock launch platform; kayaks, paddleboards, inflatable skiffs, hiking poles; underwater bow-mounted camera; two on-deck hot tubs; fitness equipment and yoga mats; DVD and book library; wine bar. Cabin Features: TV/DVD player; Tempur-Pedic mattresses; heated tile floor in all bathrooms; hair dryer, bathrobes, conditioning shampoo, body wash; binoculars; reusable water bottles — 84 guests — 42 cabins — 230 feet in length — 40 foot beam — Cruising speed of 12 knots — Built in 1983 — Registered in United States — 2.5:1 Guest-to-crew ratio

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

  • Species List
  • Trip Report

Southeast Alaska Cruise

glacier bay alaska boat tours

Stephen is an award-winning author, natural history educator and conservationist. He has also contributed to documentary films, and his nature photography has been widely published. Over the past two decades, he has introduced groups of travelers to nature and culture in destinations as varied as Uganda, New Zealand and Alaska. After moving from Colorado to the Oregon coast, Stephen was captivated by the sight of a Tufted Puffin carrying fish back to its burrow, and the first time he heard a Swainson’s Thrush sing, he knew his life would never be the same. He has been studying birds and sharing their beauty with people ever since. Formative experiences during Stephen’s journey as a naturalist have included tagging along as a teenager with his grandparents in Madera Canyon, where he absorbed their love of Arizona’s sky islands; helping people with different ability levels experience the Yellowstone ecosystem when he lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and sailing aboard a historic schooner to share the wonders of the Salish Sea with students. Now based in Port Townsend, Washington, Stephen explores the Pacific Northwest by backpacking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, biking, trail running, and skiing. His wide-ranging natural history pursuits include coring trees to count their growth rings, identifying bats by analyzing their biosonar signals, hunting mammoth tusks in Pleistocene bluffs, searching for the elusive Rubber Boa, preserving native prairie, raising awareness about plankton, and leading sea slug safaris.

Other trips with Stephen Grace

Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Southeast Arizona, Arizona, Arizona Nature Tour, Arizona Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. We trust that you have talked with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health Information” section.

Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage is available through Allianz Travel Insurance .

  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT) and departing from Juneau International Airport (JNU). Send a copy to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags is easiest for packing. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of your Guide. As a backup, contact our office (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

The arrival airport for this tour is the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT). Please plan to arrive no later than 2:30 PM on the first day of the tour. We STRONGLY recommend that you arrive the day prior to minimize any risk of missing the boat. If you do, Sitka is a wonderful town to explore ahead of time!

Departures from Juneau International Airport

The departure airport for this tour is the Juneau International Airport (JNU). Please plan your departures for after 11:30 AM.

Passports and Identification

The U.S. Coast Guard requires each passenger to provide identification & emergency contact information.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents may use a driver's license or other accepted government-issued ID. Passengers from outside the U.S. will need a valid passport to board the vessel. Passport and visa requirements are dependent on your nationality.

General Health Information

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. Do bring any prescription medications with you and its best if you have a copy of the prescription in case of loss. The crew is trained in both first aid and CPR and there are first aid supplies on board. There is not a physician on board.

Weather & Climate

The summertime climate in Southeast Alaska is usually quite mild, and there is a high chance of a high cloud cover during the day that keeps the heat at bay. Daytime temperatures range from the low 50s to high 60s, and at night and early mornings it will dip into the 40s. Since the journey takes place primarily on protected waters, windy conditions are not usually an issue. Additionally, rain is infrequent this time of year. However, it is always good to come prepared with rain gear that can double as a wind breaker layer.

Annoyances & Hazards

While the areas and waters we travel are mostly protected, in the event of high winds or open passageway crossings you may encounter rough water. Seasickness medication is kept on board all of our vessels. If you are prone to seasickness, you should consult your physician prior to your departure. The captain will update you when there might be extra motion so you can take the medication in enough time to be effective.

Good news! There aren’t mosquitoes in most of the areas we cruise in Southeast Alaska. If we do encounter them, your vessel crew can provide you with insect repellent. Mosquitoes are present in the Interior of Alaska and are most numerous in June and July. If you are concerned about mosquitoes while on a pre- or post-cruise land package, you should pack insect repellent.

For the protection of all guests, your onboard guides are equipped with bear spray during outings. Guests are not allowed to store bear spray in their cabin or carry it with them. If you are extending your Alaska travels pre- or post-cruise and bear spray is necessary, you may bring it onboard, but you MUST surrender it for safekeeping to the captain for the duration of your cruise.

Food & Drinks

The food on board has been described as pretty incredible. Expect handcrafted meals made from fresh ingredients showcasing the flavors of the region. Wherever possible, ingredients are sourced locally. Our operator is committed to sustainability and is proud to be the first cruise partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program .

Most special dietary needs can be accommodated. To help us out, please alert us of any food allergies or other dietary requirements you may have and to ensure the chef has enough notice. We recommend that you check in with the chef or hotel manager after boarding the ship to confirm your request.

Onboard water is treated and filtered. Re-usable water bottles are available on board if you didn't bring one along.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at meals. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable during this trip. We suggest packing a medium/heavy jacket and layers. In Southeast Alaska, the wilderness areas we explore on foot can get pretty muddy, plus skiff landings may be wet landings where there's no dock at all. Having proper footwear and ankle support is absolutely essential. Both hiking and rubber boots are good, but if we had to choose, we'd lean towards the rubber boots (aka the "Alaska tennis shoe," also known as Xtratufs, Wellingtons, gum boots). Many guests add insoles for support and hike in their rubber "mud" boots!

Laundry service will not be offered on the ship. You may want to pack clothes that are easy to hand wash.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. While most all is inclusive on the ship, charges for personal items, gear shop purchases, and crew gratuities can be easily charged to your personal shipboard account and settled with one payment at the end of your cruise. Payment can be made by credit card or cash (USD) in all of our destinations. U.S. travelers' checks and personal checks are also accepted on cruises in our U.S. destinations.

If you plan on spending extra time either at the beginning or the end of the trip, the amount of spending money you bring depends on how much you want to shop. Where you do encounter them, shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.

Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, the ship crew or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Gratuities for group meals are included
  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
  • Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person

Gratuities will be shared among your onboard crew and are paid at the end of your cruise. Our operator recommends $250 per week per guest ($35/day per guest). Gratuities can be added to your tab along with any onboard purchases. For travel in the U.S., gratuities may be paid by cash (USD), check, travelers’ check, or credit card.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

The ship is equipped with communication devices designed to conduct the ship's business and for emergency purposes but wifi is not available for passenger use. Cell phones sometimes work near more populated areas. A satellite phone is available on the bridge of each ship for emergency use at additional cost.

In an emergency, family and friends can call 888-862-8881 Monday-Friday 6:00 am-6:00 pm or Saturday 7:00 am-4:00 pm.

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Vaping or smoking tobacco products is prohibited anywhere inside the ship. Vaping or smoking is only allowed on the outer aft deck in a designated smoking area. To protect the environment, guests should use the ashtrays provided and never toss cigarettes/cigars overboard.

Transportation

For this tour, the crew will offer trips ashore in either a skiff, or you can opt to take a sea kayak or paddle board. Please listen to the crew to advise on conditions and safety.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and share photos with the group. Please note that this is our policy, if you have an exception to it, we need to know ahead of your tour. And at the end of your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representative’s permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

Packing List +

Please pack light.

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Southeast Alaska's weather will be a big influence on your packing plan. Summers are mild. Long days extend to 15-18 hours of daylight. Here in the heart of Earth's biggest temperate rainforest, precipitation is common. May-September, temps range from 55-65 but can soar to 70. Evenings dip to 40-50. If you're tempted to take the "polar plunge", the water will be mid-40s to low-50s. Conditions change week-to-week and historic averages are changing. Check the weather forecast via your preferred weather source for your cruise dates before packing.

Whatever the weather, each day brings adventures – kayaking, hiking, and skiffing about. Bring clothing that layers easily so that you can add or remove layers as conditions change throughout the day. It can be chilly near glaciers and on deck when the ship is underway, then much warmer when you go ashore. While you want to be sure you bring your "Alaskan Tennis Shoes," storage space in your cabin is limited, so pack efficiently. Watch this helpful video from our operator about Alaskan Sneakers .

Dress, Layering & Fabrics

Dress is casual. While on board, that means t-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jeans, khakis, even shorts. For outdoor activities, pack clothes that layer: convertible hiking pants, moisture-wicking base layers, and thermal underwear (top to bottom). Multiple thin layers are better than one or two thick ones.

A note on fabrics: moisture-wicking/quick-drying (wool, polyester, etc.) fabrics are most effective in keeping you warm and dry, especially when participating in off-vessel activities. Cotton absorbs moisture and is slow to dry in Alaska's damp environment, so keep cotton to a minimum.

Chances are it will rain and be windy. A heavy-duty, waterproof rain jacket and rain pants with waterproof, taped seams (made of Gore-Tex, Pertex, or a similar waterproof fabric) are highly recommended. Fleece jackets/pullovers and zip-up vests will be good for layering and warmth. Bring a scarf, gloves, and warm, water-resistant hat that covers your ears.

Whether it's heavy rain, ankle-deep water, or mud ... the "Alaskan tennis shoe" (aka a pair of calf-high rubber boots, Wellingtons, or gummies) is a must. Consider replacing the insoles with a padded set for more comfort. Hiking in Alaska is best in rubber boots, but you may also want to bring a pair of waterproof hiking boots. Water socks or multi-sport shoes are handy for paddle boarding. On board, a skidproof deck shoe is a good idea. Bring lots of moisture-wicking, quick-dry (synthetic or wool) socks.

It is best to bring your own rubber boots for best fit and availability. The ship will have a very limited supply aboard their vessels and youth sizes are not available.

Provided on Board

  • Adventure gear & yoga mats
  • Hairdryer, towels, toiletries (eco-friendly shampoo/conditioner/body wash)
  • Refillable water bottles*
  • Sunscreen & insect repellant*
  • Fun and adventure!

*Please note: if you are going on a pre- or post-cruise land tour, be sure to bring your own refillable water bottle, sunscreen, and insect repellant.

Clothing and Gear

  • Full-length or convertible hiking pants
  • Moisture-wicking long & short sleeved shirts (polypropylene, merino wool, etc.)
  • Thermal top & bottom base layers
  • Sweaters, sweatshirts, long-sleeve fleece
  • Casual t-shirts, blouses, jeans/khakis, shorts for on board
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) for all activities
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas (consider what dries quickly if you plan to do laundry)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Heavy-duty, waterproof rain jacket and pants with waterproof, taped seams (made of Gore-Tex, Pertex, or a similar waterproof fabric)
  • Fleece or hooded jacket/pullover
  • Scarf, gloves, and warm hat
  • Water-resistant hat that covers your ears
  • Calf-to knee-high rubber boots for wet landings & walking in mud
  • Waterproof hiking boots with tread or rubber boots with good insoles
  • Comfortable deck style walking shoes for on board
  • Hat with broad brim that covers ears/neck

Equipment and Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
  • Photo identification
  • Passport (needed if your Alaska cruise route sails through Canadian waters)
  • Money pouch, or someplace to carry your money and identification
  • Binoculars with safety strap (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Camera, extra batteries/chargers, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies, instruction manual, safety lanyard
  • Daypack for hiking and skiff rides
  • Dry bag for camera, binoculars, snacks, etc. (optional, but strongly recommended)
  • Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Walking stick – collapsible (optional)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF (ideally waterproof)
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletry articles
  • Paddling gloves (optional – for kayaking)
  • Water bottle (can easily be bought in the airport and refilled daily)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Heavy-gauge gallon-size ziplock bags for keeping things dry during transfers if raining
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical and First Aid Items

  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on boat, bus, van, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments (Band-Aids or Elastoplasts, Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Alaska; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Merlin App . A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free , then from within the app, download the “pack” for Alaska

Kayaking the Inside Passage: A Paddling Guide from Olympia, Washington to Muir Glacier, Alaska

Coming into the Country John McPhee

Travels in Alaska by John Muir

Guide to the Birds of Alaska

A Guide to Alaskan Seabirds

General Reading

The Alaska Cruise Explorer

The Alaska Almanac: Facts About Alaska

Interior and Northern Alaska: A Natural History

Alaska (Traveller’s Wildlife Guides)

The Great Alaska Nature Factbook: A Guide to the State's Remarkable Animals, Plants, and Natural Features. Susan Ewing

Alaska Wildlife: Through the Seasons

The Nature of Alaska: An Introduction to Familiar Plants and Animals and Natural Attractions

Field Guides

The Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

A Birder’s Guide to Alaska

Wildlife & Nature

Alaska Park Science: Scientific Studies on Climate Change in Alaska’s National Parks

Nature of Southeast Alaska: A Guide to Plants, Animals, and Habitats

The Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, & Alaska

Natural History

Alaska: Travelers Wildlife Guide

Alaska Trees and Wildflowers: An Introduction to Familiar Plants (a Pocket Naturalist Guide)

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers: Commonly Seen Along Highways and Byways

Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic

Roadside Geology of Alaska

History & Culture

Looking for Alaska

Alaska’s History: The People, Land and Events of the North Country

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska The Blue Bear

Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings

Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The Epic Story of Early Naturalist Georg Steller and the Russian Exploration of Alaska

Guardians of the Whales: The Quest to Study Whales

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rain Forest

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

Useful Links +

Juneau, Alaska

  • https://www.traveljuneau.com/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneau,_Alaska
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitka,_Alaska

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Audubon Alaska – Birding Juneau

  • https://ak.audubon.org/southeast-alaska-birding-trail/juneau

Alaska Birds Checklists

  • https://www.universityofalaskamuseumbirds.org/products/checklist.pdf

Common Birds of Southeast Alaska

  • https://juneaunature.discoverysoutheast.org/content_item/common-birds-of-southeast-alaska-2/

Alaska Birding Maps

  • https://ak.audubon.org/birds/alaska-birding-maps

Bears of Alaska

  • https://www.nps.gov/subjects/aknatureandscience/wildlifebears.htm

Sitka Spruce

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea_sitchensis#

Endemic Animals of Alaska

  • https://animalia.bio/endemic-lists/region/endemic-animals-of-alaska

Species of Southeast Alaska – iNaturalist

  • https://www.inaturalist.org/places/southeast-alaska-ak-us

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

  • https://www.nps.gov/glba/index.htm

Sitka National Historic Park

  • https://www.nps.gov/sitk/index.htm

Tongass National Forest

  • https://www.alaskawild.org/places-we-protect/tongass-national-forest/

Alaska Conservation Foundation

  • https://alaskaconservation.org/

The Nature Conservancy in Alaska

  • https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/alaska/

Alaska Wildlife Alliance

  • https://www.akwildlife.org/

Geology & Geography

Geology of Alaska

  • https://dggs.alaska.gov/popular-geology/alaska.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Alaska
  • https://www.usgs.gov/centers/alaska-science-center/science/geologic-map-alaska

“Geologist digs into the rocky history of Southeast Alaska” – Interesting Article, KTOO.org

  • https://www.ktoo.org/2023/04/10/geologist-digs-into-the-rocky-history-of-southeast-alaska/

Geography of Alaska

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Alaska

Baranof Island

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baranof_Island

Chichagof Island

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichagof_Island

Alexander Archipelago

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Archipelago
  • https://www.britannica.com/place/Alexander-Archipelago

Southeast Alaska (Panhandle)

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Alaska

Juneau Museums

  • https://www.alaska.org/destination/juneau/museums

Juneau History

  • https://www.traveljuneau.com/discover-juneau/history/

Adolf Murie

  • https://www.nps.gov/articles/denali-adolph-murie.htm

History of Sitka, Alaska

  • https://www.achp.gov/preserve-america/community/sitka-alaska

Alaska Native Peoples

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Natives
  • https://www.nativefederation.org/alaska-native-peoples/

Cuisine in Alaska

  • https://www.anchorage.net/blog/post/alaska-in-8-bites/

Helpful Travel Websites

Arrival:   Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT)

  • https://geofs.fandom.com/wiki/Sitka_Rocky_Gutierrez_Airport_(PASI)

Departure:   Juneau International Airport (JNU)

  • https://juneau.org/airport

National Passport Information Center

  • https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

  • https://www.tsa.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • https://www.cdc.gov/index.htm

ATM Locator

  • https://www.mastercard.us/en-us/personal/get-support/find-nearest-atm.html
  • https://www.visa.com/atmlocator/

Electricity and Plugs

  • https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/

Date, Time & Holidays

  • https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/usa/juneau
  • https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/alaska-day

Gray Whale in Baja

Photo credits: Banners: Breeching Orca by Peg Abbott; Glacier Bay by Peg Abbott; Humpback Flukes by Peg Abbott; Common Murres by Peg Abbott; Harbor Seal by Greg Smith; Kayaking Endicott Arm, courtesy UnCruise Adventures; Whale Watching by Skiff, courtesy UnCruise Adventures; Elfin Cove by Peg Abbott; Grizzly Bear by Peg Abbott; Steller Sea Lion by Peg Abbott; Red Fox by Greg Smith; Humpback Whale, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Gustavus Inn by Peg Abbott; Horned Puffins by Greg Smith; Sea Otter by Peg Abbott; Horned Puffins, Greg Smith; Sea Otter, Peg Abbott; Harbor Seal, Peg Abbott; Alaska Scenic, Peg Abbott; Grizzly Bear, Greg Smith; Alaska Scenic, Peg Abbott; Seal on Glacier Ice, Courtesy of Uncruise Adventures; Southeast Alaska Hiking Trail, Peg Abbott; Bunchberries, Peg Abbott; Shells, Peg Abbott; Elfin Cove, Peg Abbott; Swimming Bear, Courtesy Uncruise Adventures; Glacier Bay NP, courtesy of Matt Howard on Unsplash; Bald Eagle, Peg Abbott; Group in Kayaks, Peg Abbott; Glacier Bay, courtesy of Victoria Crocker on Unsplash; Humpback Whale by Steve Halama on Unsplash; Humpback Whale, Peg Abbott; Red-throated Loon, Greg Smith; Red-necked Phalarope by Greg Smith; Kayaks, Peg Abbott; Bear Watching, Peg Abbott; Moose, Dan Donaldson;

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glacier bay alaska boat tours

EXPLORE, DISCOVER & LEARN

Active small ship cruising adventures exploring glacier bay and the inside passage of alaska., adventure begins with you.

Imagine yourself on our beautiful ship, cruising through pristine wilderness waters surrounded by soaring glacier-carved peaks. The Sea Wolf is a comfortable 12 passenger expedition vessel, which is expertly run by a fun, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic professional crew of five. We offer active small ship cruising adventures suitable for people of all abilities on our universal accessible ship. Our routes span the breadth of the Alaska Inside Passage and Glacier Bay . Onboard the Sea Wolf you will always find an option to suit your mood – relaxing on the heated aft deck enjoying a panoramic view, learning about the nature of the Pacific Northwest from our naturalist, or participating in long or short paddles and hikes. Stroll the beach or access a mountain ridge… you will find all the ingredients for an unforgettable adventure. Come explore with us, we are Alaskans and love to share this majestic wilderness with you and 11 other like-minded wilderness adventurers.

All eyes on deck scanning the beaches and seas for wildlife and marine mammals. Bears, wolves, mountain goats and other wildlife abound in this rich land and the nutrient rich waters support a myriad of marine species including porpoises, sea otters, seals, Orca and Humpback whales.

Seawolf Adventures Site Seeing

For those that take paddle in hand, the use of our very stable sea kayaks allows for a more up close and personal seals eye view of the coastal wilderness.  Our kayak exploration will take us through one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse areas in the world.

See yourself hiking a sandy beach following in the tracks of bears , wolves and moose. We hike most days and encounter all manner of terrains; from rocky slopes abutting glaciers to sandy beaches and across the mossy floor of the rainforest. Our hikes vary from easy to challenging as we wander the landscape absorbing the natural history of each magical place. Each hiking exploration will have two guides to accommodate differing activity levels.

San Juan Islands Hiking

Glacier Bay May-August

Spring inside passage ketchikan-misty fjords-juneau, spring inside passage juneau-glacier bay, fall inside passage glacier bay to juneau, fall inside passage juneau-petersburg, private charters imagine reunions, phone: + 1-907-957-1438, email: [email protected], sea wolf adventures p.o box 312 gustavus, ak 99826.

glacier bay alaska boat tours

  • Park History
  • Points of Interest
  • Current Weather
  • Glacier Bay Seasons
  • Trip Planning
  • Getting Here
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Cornell Lab Bird Tracking
  • Photos & Videos
  • Glacier Bay Lodge
  • Bartlett Cove Campground
  • Fairweather Dining Room
  • Glacier Bay Day Tour
  • Sample Itineraries
  • Whale Watching
  • Guided Kayaking & Rentals
  • Flightseeing
  • National Park & Ranger Programs
  • Explore Gustavus
  • Group Travel
  • Request for Proposal
  • Lodging Specials
  • Member Programs
  • Email Sign Up
  • Retrieve Reservations

The Trip of a Lifetime

No trip to Alaska is complete unless you experience Glacier Bay’s mountains, fjords, forests and tidewater glaciers.

Glacier Bay is a remote, unspoiled place where wildlife outnumbers roads a million to one. Visitors arrive by boat or plane. They stay at Glacier Bay Lodge or camp in one of the available Alaska campgrounds. Then hike through the rainforest and along the beaches, or kayak Alaska in the calm waters of Bartlett Cove and the Beardslee Islands. But, the best way to see the park is by high-speed catamaran. This full-day Alaska boat tour of the West Arm of Glacier Bay departs each morning from the dock in front of Glacier Bay Lodge.

Although the Park is open year-round, the park's Visitor Center (upstairs at Glacier Bay Lodge) and most services are open from roughly mid-May to mid-September. Winter services are limited. Entrance to the park is free. For more about the park, go to National Park Service.

Don't miss an experience you'll cherish for a lifetime - viewing the glaciers in one of America's premier natural wilderness areas, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

What to Bring

The key to comfort while being in Alaska is to dress in layers so that you can adjust your level of warmth to your own needs and adapt with the changes in the weather. We recommend that you pack these essentials:

Remember – as the Norwegians say – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!” So be sure you bring good clothing on your Alaska trip.

Be prepared for the time of your life at Glacier Bay Lodge! Whether it is a relaxing stay at our scenic lodge, or a busy week full of tours, cruises and whale watching, we are positive you will never want to leave. Check out our different brochures to learn even more and better plan your trip of a lifetime!

Glacier Bay Lodge Brochure

Stay in comfort at the only lodging inside Glacier Bay National Park. Enjoy cozy accommodations nestled among the Sitka Spruce trees of the Tongass Rainforest. We strive to do our best at making you feel comfortable and relaxed while you are with us. We realize that our guests travel far distances before arriving at our destination. Indulge at our lodge dining and enjoy fresh, local seafood as you marvel at the fantastic views. Glacier Bay Lodge is the starting point of numerous activities featuring the Glacier Bay Day Cruise.

Glacier Bay Day Cruise Brochure

Spend the day out on Glacier Bay! Our comfortable, heated high-speed catamaran is the only scheduled day tour boat in Glacier Bay National Park. This eight-hour voyage of discovery is a grand experience that promises you a lifetime of memories. You'll have the chance to see stellar wildlife and massive tidewater glaciers on this memorable cruise!

Useful Links

Below is a list of links that will help you familiarize yourself with Glacier Bay and the area of Gustavus, AK.

  • Glacier Bay National Park Service
  • Planning Your Trip to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
  • Visitor Association Website
  • Alaska Travel Industry Associations

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How to Visit Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska: Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on April 9, 2024

Glacier Bay National Park is a place of incredible beauty in a remote wilderness with glaciers, mountains and wildlife. It is truly unforgettable. It’s a place that can be quickly visited on a cruise ship, which is how 95% of visitors experience its beauty.

If you visit Glacier Bay National Park on your own you gain the opportunity to go deeper with this unique place . You can go deeper into this gorgeous wilderness, meet the people, the wildlife, the glaciers, the very land itself. Make sure you give yourself enough time to spend a few hours just experiencing it. Possibly walking along the beach, or sitting on the beach, or taking some deep breaths next to a giant tree, or sitting on covered deck of the lodge enjoying a beer or a cup of coffee while the rain falls around you. Expect to be changed.

How to get to Glacier Bay National Park from Juneau

  • How much does it cost to go to Glacier Bay?
  • Where to stay (including details about camping)
  • What to do in Glacier Bay
  • 4 Day Glacier Bay National Park itinerary
  • Getting food and supplies
  • What to pack

Related : How to visit Alaska without a car

Listen to our conversation with Glacier Bay Ranger Matt Enderle on the Alaska Uncovered Podcast:

Distant snow capped mountains frame the water of Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay is located west of Juneau, Alaska . You’ll need to get to Juneau first in order to get to the park. Glacier Bay National Park is located on a peninsula that is surrounded by water and icefields and there are no roads in or out. You can only access Glacier Bay National Park by boat or by plane from Juneau. You can NOT drive to Glacier Bay ! We’ll discuss both options. The vast majority of visitors to Glacier Bay visit on a cruise ship, this post focuses on how to get there if you’re traveling on your own.

How to get to Glacier Bay National Park by Boat from Juneau

This is the least expensive, slowest and most complicated way to get to Glacier Bay National Park. It’s awesome, super scenic and relaxing, as long as you can handle a few logistics and have more time for travel. You can fly to Juneau from Seattle (2 hours) and then take the Alaska ferry from Juneau to Gustavus and then take a taxi or the Glacier Bay lodge shuttle from the ferry dock to Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park (the cost of both is about $30 round trip). The ferry schedule varies from year and is generally released in February for the coming summer season. Usually the ferry goes to Glacier Bay about three days a week.

I previously wrote about taking the ferry all the way from Bellingham, WA. In that post I also talk about how to read the ferry schedule and what’s available on board the ferry. The ferry from Juneau to Gustavus takes 4-6 hours depending on whether or not it stops in another port on the way. If you fly to Juneau and then take the ferry, you’ll need to take a taxi or rideshare from the airport to the ferry terminal. This costs around $20 each way.

One reason to consider the ferry is that you can bring bear spray (discussed below) and cooking fuel for your campstove (though you cannot use the campstove on the ferry). Getting supplies in Gustavus is challenging so this is something worth considering. You can always leave those items there and fly back. This is discussed in more detail below under “food and supplies”.

A person's feet are visible in the foreground on the deck of a ship under a cover. you can see the back of the ship, with an American flag, and water and mountains behind on the way to visit Glacier Bay national park

How to get to Glacier Bay National Park by Plane from Juneau

This is the faster and more expensive way to go. It’s also less complicated as there are more flight options and you don’t need to get between the airport and ferry terminal in Juneau. You’ll already be at the airport. The first step is to fly to Juneau and the second step is to book a flight from Juneau to Gustavus. The flight between Juneau and Gustavus will be on a small plane, which is a fun addition to your adventure!

Keep in mind that the flights on small planes in Alaska are subject to delays and cancellations based on weather. It’s important to stay flexible and give yourself a good amount of time between flights in Juneau (especially on the way back). Alaska Airlines does operate one flight a day on a jet between Gustavus and Juneau from early June through late August.

How Much Does it Cost to go to Glacier Bay National Park?

The cost of a trip to Glacier Bay can vary widely. Glacier Bay National Park does not charge an entrance fee . You can visit it almost for free (once you get there) if you:

  • Stay in the free Bartlett Cove Campground
  • Skip any tours in favor of hiking and beachwalking out of Bartlett Cove
  • Bring all your own camp food with you

I recommend building a budget so you can see some of the highlights , since you’ll need to invest some money to travel to Alaska in the first place! Read all my tips for saving money on your trip to Alaska here .

Below is a sample of some of the things you should plan to budget for to visit Glacier Bay National Park:

When should I visit Glacier Bay National Park?

The Glacier Bay Lodge and the Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour (both discussed below) are open from Memorial day weekend (late May) until Labor Day (early September) . This is the time that you want to visit! Outside of this time, a visit to Glacier Bay as an independent traveler isn’t a realistic option.

I recommend visiting in the earlier part of the season (late May and early June) because it’s less crowded. It is also statistically less rainy than later in August and September. It’s important to keep in mind that Glacier Bay National Park is RAINY and CHILLY at any time in the summer. Typical summer temperatures are in the 50s and 60s, though you could experience warmer weather at times. It is imperative that if you plan a visit to Glacier Bay National Park that you are prepared for and expecting rain.

Where to Stay in Glacier Bay

A lodge lobby has a staircase in the middle and red lounge chairs around. There is also a restaurant, with wooden tables and chairs and Tlingit art on the walls. The roof is made of wood and there is a patterned carpet

There are vacation rentals available in Gustavus, but here I will focus on your two options for staying in the park, since the town is 10 miles away. Definitely stay in Bartlett Cove if you are coming to visit Glacier Bay National Park as an independent traveler. You have two options, the Glacier Bay Lodge and the Bartlett Cove Campground .

The Glacier Bay Lodge is expensive, starting at around $250 per night for a solid, comfortable, though basic room. Rooms are situated around the lodge in cabins. There are no TVs and NO CELL SERVICE. Wifi is available in the lodge lobby, but not in the rooms. The other option is to camp in the Bartlett Cove Campground, which I highly recommend as long as you have a tent with a SOLID rainfly. Read my guide to camping in Alaska here !

Camping at Bartlett Cove Campground in Glacier Bay National Park

A small blue tent is pitched in a campsite to visit Glacier bay national park. There are green trees around, and the water is just visible between the trees

This campground is absolutely fantastic. I cannot say enough wonderful things about it. There are only two downsides to it: it’s in a very rainy place and it’s remote, so if you forgot something you’ll have to improvise. This is bear country, and the park service has strict rules for the campground to ensure safety of bears and people.

When you arrive, you’ll go to the Visitor Information station that’s near the dock (and a 5 minute walk from the lodge). They’ll issue your free permit and give you an orientation. It’s important to pay attention to the rules and follow them. The big ones are no food, cooking materials or toiletries in the tent area (they have food caches that are like sheds that you keep these things in, there are several in the campground). The other big rule is no cooking by your tent . The sites are in the trees, and you can cook and eat anywhere on the beach in the intertidal zone (so that the smells wash away when the tide comes in). Here are the reasons why the campground is awesome:

  • It’s FREE
  • It’s BEAUTIFUL
  • New (in 2019) composting toilets
  • There are showers (they aren’t in the campground, they are a the lodge which is a 5 minute walk away), you go to the gift shop and pay $5 and they give you a key to the shower for half an hour. They also provide a towel, soap, shampoo and conditioner!
  • Laundry is available (again, it’s at the lodge). It’s coin operated $2 for wash, $2 for dry
  • Covered set of picnic tables near the dock (this is not right in the campground but it’s very close, 5 minute walk)
  • Flush restrooms in that same location (near the dock)
  • There is a filtered water bottle filling station by the dock
  • There is a hose and wash station for gear by the dock
  • Trash AND RECYCLING are available near the dock
  • If you forgot food, didn’t bring enough food, don’t want to cook or if you change your mind about cooking in bad weather there’s a lodge (5 minute walk) where you can just go and have your meals, or a meal, or a drink!).
  • The lodge also has a lobby with chairs where you can sit and read a book, there’s also a small LIBRARY upstairs where you can do the same.
  • Did I mention it’s beautiful? And remote? And awesome?

A pink sunset behind distant mountains and a forested island. In the foreground is the beach in the campground at Bartlett Cove campground to visit Glacier bay national park

Things to do in Glacier Bay National Park

1. glacier bay day boat tour.

A glacier touches the sea in Glacier Bay. There is blue ice and in front of it the ice is gray and black where it is filled with rocks and gravel

In my opinion, the Day Boat Tour is a MUST do . I’m telling you this because it’s expensive ($240/person) and you might be tempted not to do it, but really, it’s absolutely incredible! I’ve never been on a day boat tour anywhere in Alaska that wasn’t awesome, but this one is really incredible! I highly recommend it. One of the best day tours you can do in Alaska . This is also the only way to see the glaciers in Glacier Bay, as they are not viewable from Bartlett Cove where you’ll be staying.

Glacier Bay is absolutely beautiful without seeing the Glaciers, but you don’t want to miss this!! If it’s good weather, you’ll be able to see mountains all around as well, but if if it’s rainy, foggy or cloudy you’ll still be able to see the glaciers at the head of the bay and lots of wildlife ! I saw many whales (including some breaching, which is when they jump out of the water and I had never seen that before, so cool!), two bears, many sea lions, sea otters, seals and lots and lots of birds of all kinds. Amazing!

A brown bear walks the rocky shoreline next to the water of Glacier Bay. There are scrubby green shrubs above the bear and the gray rocks

You’ll want to book the boat ahead of time, you can do that here . It’s operated by the lodge. The boat is a full day, it departs at 7:30 am from the dock in Bartlett Cove and you return about 3:30. They provide hot drinks, a clam chowder snack, and lunch (a sandwich and chips). There are additional snacks as well as beer and wine available for purchase on board.

Make sure to dress warmly for this trip so you can be outside on deck as much as you want. When you’re at the head of the bay near the glaciers, it will be colder, and the boat is fast so it’s very windy on deck even in warm and clear weather. They also provide maps, binoculars and there will be a park ranger on board to tell you everything you want to know about what you’re seeing! They also love your questions!

Related : Best places to see wildlife in Alaska

2. Visit the Huna Tribal House

A Tlingit house screen on the side of the Huna Tribal house in Bartlett Cove. Purple lupine wildflowers are in the foreground and the house is surrounded by evergreen trees

The Huna Tribal House is the most unique and important element of a visit to Glacier Bay. It is a place where the story of reconcilation is being played out right now. In Glacier Bay, the Huna Tlingit are collaborating with the park service to build opportunity for Huna Tlingit people on their land. This is a unique and collaborative effort, and while certainly not complete, it’s movement in the right direction and incredibly hopeful and beautiful.

There are regular interpretive programs (check the schedule in the visitor center at the lodge) led by Huna Tlingit Cultural Interpreters . Even with all of Glacier Bay’s natural beauty, wildlife and solitude, this is one of the biggest highlights of a visit to Glacier Bay National Park. I was so grateful for the opportunity to learn about Huna Tlingit culture and witness this breathtaking art, both in and on the Tribal House as well as the totem poles.

3. Kayaking around the Beardslee Islands

The front of a kayak with a map and dry bag tied to it. The water is calm, there are forested islands around it and some distant mountains on an overcast day

Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks offers half day and full day kayak rentals or tours around Bartlett Cove. They do not allow you to rent and kayak alone, so if you are a solo traveler you’ll need to join a tour. You don’t need any previous experience to take part in this! They will provide all the gear you need and teach you what you need to know. The full day tour includes lunch.

Paddling gives a different perspective on the water and is a wonderful way to see wildlife. If you’re wanting to plan a multi day backcountry kayaking adventure, they can help you with that too!

4. Hiking in Bartlett Cove

There are a number of trails near Bartlett Cove, the park service has an excellent trail guide here .

Green evergreen trees on the shore and a river flowing into the sea creating an estuary. The tide is low, there are mudflats and rocks exposed.

The Forest Trail is a short, 1 mile, minimal elevation gain loop through the forest and along the beach. This is a good trail for getting oriented when you arrive, or to stretch your legs after the day boat tour.

The Bartlett River Trail is a mellow four mile round trip, minimal elevation gain hike through the forest to the estuary at the mouth of the Bartlett River. This is a good half day hike option.

If you want a longer, more remote adventure, you could go for the Bartlett Lake Trail (10 miles round trip).

5. Tidepooling and Exploring the Beach

A beach at low tide with sand and rocks, there are forested, green hills around it. It's a gray, rainy day, the picture is very dark on a visit to glacier bay national park

Exploring the beach is an excellent any type of weather activity! It’s especially fun at low tide (check the tides at the visitor center in the lodge or the visitor information center near the dock). You can explore the beach in both directions from the campground and dock area for many miles. Just make sure to pay attention to time and how far you’ve walked.

4 Day Itinerary to Visit Glacier Bay National Park

Now that we’ve talked about how to get there, when to get there and what to do, it’s time to put it all together! You could make it shorter by doing more in a shorter time or skipping some of the activities listed above. For example, you could decide not to do a longer hike, or you could decide to fly out from Gustavus the same day as you do the day boat or a kayak trip. Here’s a suggested leisurely 4 day itinerary (including travel from Juneau):

  • Day 1: Ferry or Fly from Juneau to Gustavus . Get settled in the campground or lodge. Take a walk on the beach and/or along the Forest trail
  • Day 2: Day Boat Tour , visit the Huna Tribal House
  • Day 3: Half or full day kayak trip
  • Day 4: Hike Bartlett River Trail or the beach, ferry or fly back to Juneau in the afternoon

Food and Supplies in Glacier Bay

The part of your trip that is going to require the most planning is food and supplies. Once you reach Gustavus, you are in rural, remote Alaska and finding things is difficult and they will be very expensive . If you can afford the time, I recommend taking the ferry from Juneau so that you can get your supplies together (including fuel and bear spray, discussed below). You can then travel with them by ferry (you can’t bring cooking fuel or bear spray on airplanes).

One option is to take the ferry to Gustavus, but fly on the way back. You can leave your cooking fuel and bear spray in the camper exchange at the visitor information center near the dock.

Another option is to bring freeze dried food and shelf stable snacks with you from home. If you’re not going to be cooking your own food, you don’t have to worry about this so much, you can just bring a few snacks and be good to go.

If you plan on doing any hiking or camping having bear spray is a good idea. Bear spray is essentially pepper spray in a larger container. The idea is that you carry it and if you encounter a bear you get ready to spray if it charges you. It’s a personal decision whether or not to carry it, but this is a place you definitely want to consider it. If you’re wanting to fly and try to buy it once you arrive, try calling the park service to see if they have any bear spray in the exchange. In the exchange, campers leave things like bear spray and cooking fuel and you can take it when you arrive.

At the gift shop in the lodge you can get a few things, and there are a couple of stores in Gustavus (keep in mind that this is 10 miles from Bartlett Cove, where you’ll be staying), but in general it’s a good idea to bring what you need with you in terms of food and supplies .

There is NO CELL SERVICE in Bartlett Cove or anywhere in the park . Wifi IS available in the lodge lobby and at the dock, but not in the campground or lodge rooms. If you’re camping, charging devices is also a challenge (there are a couple outlets in the lodge). See the section below for my solution to this.

What should I pack to visit Glacier Bay National Park?

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This is a trip where being organized about what you pack and not forgetting anything is important. Check out this post for my general packing list for Alaska, which is a great checklist for Glacier Bay.

Because of the likelihood of lots of rain and the remote location, a few things to call out as especially important here:

  • Rain gear : This is absolutely essential. Plan on it raining the whole time and if it doesn’t you can be pleasantly surprised! I recommend either this rain jacket from REI or this Marmot one you can get on Amazon (unfortunately no plus sizes). Both are very similar and are excellent, waterproof and durable. I also recommend rain pants because even if you’re like me and hate wearing them hiking, you’ll still want them for sitting on wet things and bug protection. These REI ones are the most comfortable ones I’ve found.
  • Boots : Waterproof boots are a necessity. For wet places, I prefer to use rubber boots like these , which are totally waterproof, comfortable to walk in, durable and warm. Hiking boots would also work well.
  • Warm clothes , including a hat and gloves: temperatures are chilly compared to most of the US during the summer, you don’t want to be cold!
  • Lighter weight clothes : it is possible for it to be sunny! If this happens, you’ll want some lighter layers
  • A hat with a brim : this is for sun protection, but also so that you can use a bug net with it (there are mosquitoes in Glacier Bay!)
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and lip protection : If the sun comes out, it’s intense! And, if you’re on the water, even more intense.
  • If you’re going hiking, the 10 essentials . This is particularly important here as you’re in a very remote area.
  • Binoculars (the day boat provides ones you can use, but you may want them for hikes and looking at the water for whales as well)
  • A lightweight travel mug : even if you’re not camping, this is awesome for enjoying your hot drinks on the ferry, or taking it from the lodge for a walk outside.
  • One or two waterbottles for hikes and day trips.
  • A pack cover or garbage bag to put over your backpack (or whatever you are carrying your gear in) if it’s not waterproof
  • Analog entertainment such as a Kindle in airplane mode with books already on it, other reading material, sketchbook, portable games, etc. Make sure everything is downloaded so you don’t need to connect to wifi or a phone signal to get it. I also recommend a backup battery for your phone (and keep your phone in airplane mode which saves a lot of battery power in remote locations).
  • Any toiletries or personal items you need, prescriptions
  • If you’re camping: Headlamp, camp stove and fuel (no fuel on airplanes), any cooking utensils you use, tent with a REAL rainfly and stakes, camping pad and sleeping bag. Read all my advice for camping in Alaska here .

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, check out this post about the best things to do all across the state! If you’re planning to visit other national parks in Alaska, read my guide for that here .

A woman stands at the back of a boat facing away from the camera. She is looking at the blue ice of a glacier and mountains behind it. In the foreground there are lots of small pieces of ice in the water on a visit to Glacier Bay national park

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A beginners guide to visiting Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Gene Sloan

Among North America's best-known national parks, Glacier Bay is a bit of an outlier.

Unlike Yellowstone or Yosemite, you can't visit Glacier Bay on a road trip. There are no roads leading into the park, and the only way to reach it is by small plane, boat or ship.

There's also little infrastructure within the park. It does have a visitor center and lodge, located at its very edge. But its biggest attractions — its giant tidewater glaciers — are viewable only from the deck of a vessel. At its essence, Glacier Bay is a giant, fjordlike body of water lined with snowcapped mountains, forests and glaciers, and it's best seen from the water.

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It is for this reason that a large percentage of Glacier Bay's nearly 700,000 visitors a year arrive on a cruise ship. Indeed, you could almost call Glacier Bay a cruise ship park.

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Only by arriving by cruise vessel (or another boat, including the park tour boat) can you fully experience the park by traveling up the 65-mile-long waterway to a glacier and back.

Even so, you'll only see a small portion of the park. Established as a national monument in 1925 and elevated to national park status in 1980, Glacier Bay covers more than 5,200 square miles — an area about the size of Connecticut. That makes it nearly as big as Yellowstone and Yosemite combined — though much of this area is relatively inaccessible.

As a longtime travel writer specializing in cruising, I've been to Glacier Bay many times, and it's one of my favorite places in Alaska. Its glaciers are its star attractions, for sure. But it also offers spectacular mountain scenery, wildlife and — for those who make an effort to come for a multinight stay — wonderful hiking, kayaking and other outdoorsy pursuits.

Related: How to find the right Alaska cruise for you

Getting to Glacier Bay

As noted above, most of Glacier Bay's visitors arrive by cruise ship. The typical cruise that includes a visit to Glacier Bay is a seven-night Alaska voyage out of Vancouver, British Columbia, or Seattle that also includes stops at the Alaskan towns of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. The visit to Glacier Bay fills just one day of the seven-night trip.

Two major lines with historic ties to the park — Princess Cruises and Holland America — offer the most sailings with a visit to Glacier Bay. The National Park Service allows just two ships a day into the park, and arrivals are governed by a permitting system that gives preference to lines that operated in the park before the permitting system began.

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Norwegian Cruise Line , Seabourn , Cunard Line and Viking also have ships that visit the park, as do small-ship operators UnCruise Adventures , Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions and American Cruise Lines .

A trip on a cruise ship isn't the only way to get into Glacier Bay. Would-be visitors can also fly or take a ferry to Gustavus, a tiny town (population 642) on the edge of the park near the access point for a tour boat that travels into the park daily. Dubbed Baranof Wind and operated by park concessionaire Aramark, the tour boat departs from Bartlett Cove, which is just inside the park boundary and the home to the park's visitor center.

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During the summer tourist season, Alaska Airlines offers daily service to Gustavus Airport (GST) from Juneau International Airport (JNU), 48 miles to the southeast. An air taxi company, Alaska Seaplanes, offers small-plane flights to Gustavus from Juneau year-round. Ferry service to Gustavus is through the Alaska Marine Highway System, which sends a ferry to the town regularly from Juneau.

The two main airlines that fly to Juneau are Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Park visitors also can arrive at the park by private or chartered boat.

Related: How to get to Alaska with points and miles

While Glacier Bay is open year-round, visitor services are extremely limited outside of the summer season, and nearly everybody who visits comes between May and September.

Most cruises that include a stop in Glacier Bay take place between April and September, and the Glacier Bay tour boat only runs in the summer months. The park's visitor center and only lodge (Glacier Bay Lodge), which share a building, also are open only in the summer.

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Summer is the most pleasant time to be in Glacier Bay, temperature-wise. But even at the height of summer, it can be chilly, with temperatures topping out between 50 and 60 degrees during daylight hours. Rain is also common, with the area around Gustavus getting around 70 inches a year.

April, May and June are often the driest months. September and October tend to be the wettest. The bottom line is that, even at midsummer, you should be prepared for any sort of weather. Pack good rain gear, waterproof boots, wool or fleece layers and a warm hat and gloves.

No matter when you go, there's no fee to enter Glacier Bay, which is unusual for national parks. Nor are there fees for camping or boating permits. So you can leave your national park annual pass at home.

Related: Best time to cruise Alaska

What to see and do

As the name suggests, Glacier Bay is a park all about glaciers. It's home to more than 1,000 of them, and seeing a glacier up close is the big draw for most visitors.

Specifically, tourists come to view one of the park's seven-ish giant tidewater glaciers, which flow down from the mountains to the water. I say seven-ish as the park's rangers in the past couple of years have noted that some of the tidewater glaciers have melted back so much that they may not be interacting with the ocean water anymore. That's the definition of a tidewater glacier. The park rangers these days like to say there are "no more than seven" of the tidewater glaciers now, maybe fewer.

The reduction in the number of tidewater glaciers at the park is an ongoing trend. When I wrote an earlier version of this guide a few years ago, the number of tidewater glaciers at the park was nine.

Whatever the exact number, for those visiting Glacier Bay by cruise ship, the experience will revolve heavily around a stop at one of these glaciers to watch giant chunks of ice crash down from its face — a magnificent show.

Cruise ships arrive in the park for the better part of a day, and the experience goes beyond a stop at one of the park's glaciers. Sightings of puffins, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and even the occasional humpback whale or brown bear are part of the allure — all while traveling by water through an immense, glacier-carved landscape.

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If you come on a big cruise ship, you'll be doing your Glacier Bay viewing from the deck of your vessel. Big cruise ships in Glacier Bay never dock, and nobody gets off them. Still, you'll get the full National Park Service experience. Park rangers and often a local Huna Tlingit cultural guide will board the vessel for the day to offer presentations and shipwide commentary over loudspeakers, lead activities for kids and answer questions.

Some small cruise vessels that spend the night in Glacier Bay do allow passengers to disembark.

For those visitors who travel by plane or ferry to Gustavus, more options are available. In addition to taking the Glacier Bay Day Tour up the bay on the park tour boat ($262.44 per adult; $137.11 for children ages 3 to 12), visitors will find opportunities to hike, kayak and camp.

The day tour on the park tour boat includes stops at two glaciers — Margerie and Grand Pacific. Each towers nearly 250 feet above the ocean and stretches another 100 feet beneath the water. The ice that calves from their faces is, on average, 200 years old.

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Hiking trails within the park near Gustavus range from the 1-mile Forest Trail, which offers a leisurely meander through a lush forest, to the 8-mile-long Bartlett Lake Trail, a rugged trek to a tranquil lake. Most visitors head down one of the trails on their own, but for those looking for interpretation, park rangers based at Bartlett Cove offer a daily guided forest loop walk (at 1:30 p.m., as of the publication of this story).

Kayak rentals are available at Bartlett Cove, where the park service visitor center is located, for both day trips around the area and multiday outings deep into the park. Kayakers can go off on their own or sign up for a guided tour.

Birdwatching also is a popular activity in Glacier Bay. The park's diverse habitat allows for a wide variety of species (at last count, 281), including rainforest species such as the American three-toed woodpecker and neotropical migrant warblers, thrushes and other songbirds. There also are island and cliff seabird colonies of gulls, guillemots, puffins and cormorants.

In addition, daily cultural activities are available at Xunaa Shuka Hit (the tribal house) in Bartlett Cove. Unveiled in 2016, this is the first permanent Huna Tlingit clan house since the original Huna Tlingit villages of the area were destroyed by a glacier over 250 years ago. Located within a short walking distance of Glacier Bay Lodge, it offers the chance to learn firsthand about Huna Tlingit history, culture and life from tribal elders. Visitors can also experience dance performances and native foods and see historical photographs. Hand-carved totem poles tell the Huna Tlingit story.

A National Park Service visitor center is located on the second level of Glacier Bay Lodge. Park rangers are available much of the day to answer questions, and films on the park are available for watching in the visitor center's auditorium. A ranger program is presented in the auditorium each evening.

Visitors also can get an overview of Glacier Bay's mountains, ice and water from a flightseeing tour out of Gustavus or even the Alaskan towns of Yakutat or Haines.

Where to stay

If you're arriving at Glacier Bay on a cruise, you don't have to worry about a place to stay. You'll be spending the night on your ship.

Those planning to visit the park by way of Gustavus will find several places to bed down. Many visitors stay at the 48-room Glacier Bay Lodge , which is within the park about 10 miles from the town (rooms from $270.40 a night). Cozy and rustic, the lodge is nestled among Sitka spruce on the shores of Bartlett Cove, which also is home to the park's headquarters and the jumping-off point for daily tours on the park boat. Glacier Bay Lodge is the only lodging within the park.

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Back in Gustavus, you'll find a handful of small inns, guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts. They include the 14-room Bear Track Inn (from $495 per person per day, including meals and ground transportation) and the five-room and five-cabin Glacier Bay Country Inn ($319 per person per day, including meals and ground transportation). Gustavus is not a big place; some venues here offer just a few rooms.

You also may face a bit of sticker shock when seeing the rates for lodging in Gustavus. In many cases, this is driven by the fact that the properties operate on a semi-all-inclusive basis, with all meals and transportation from the airport included in the base price.

Unfortunately for points and miles devotees, there are no points hotels in Gustavus. You can find a few points hotels back in Juneau, such as the Four Points by Sheraton Juneau (rooms in the summer start at $389, or 50,000 points) and a trio of Wyndham Rewards -affiliated properties (a Ramada, Travelodge and Super 8).

The park also maintains a free, walk-in campground in a rainforest setting at Bartlett Cove. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, it offers bear-proof food storage caches, composting toilets, a fire pit on the beach and a small warming shelter. Firewood is provided.

That said, most camping in Glacier Bay takes place in the wilderness. The park offers more than 700 linear miles of shorelines, beaches and islands open to camping. Campers can arrange for the park's tour boat to drop them off at one of several designated locations within the park and pick them up days later.

Campers must register upon arrival at the Visitor Information Station near the Bartlett Cove dock. Campers can call 907-697-2627 prior to arrival to inquire about space availability at the campground at Bartlett Cove.

Related: How to use points and miles to stay near national parks

Where to eat

Again, if you're arriving by cruise ship, you'll be eating on board your vessel.

If you're staying in the Gustavus area, you'll probably be eating at the lodge or inn where you're staying or at another one of the lodging properties in town. The town is so small that its dining establishments generally are tied to its lodging outlets. They're also only open in the summer.

Many of the lodging options offer a "full board" plan that includes three meals each day. Be warned that a la carte pricing at eateries can be high in the Gustavus area, as is true in many places in Alaska. This partly has to do with the high cost of getting supplies to remote parts of the state.

For those staying at Glacier Bay Lodge, the in-house restaurant, the Fairweather Dining Room , is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for both lodge guests and outsiders. The dinner menu includes local Alaska salmon and halibut. Lunch brings burgers and sandwiches (including a halibut sandwich).

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Also open to guests and outsiders is the restaurant at Glacier Bay Country Inn. It serves Alaskan cuisine, such as salmon, typically offered en croute with a green peppercorn sauce.

Bottom line

A visit to Glacier Bay is one of the iconic experiences of a trip to Alaska, and something you should try to do at least once in your life — if only to see the giant calving glaciers. For most visitors, experiencing the park will involve a voyage on a cruise ship that brings just a day in the park. But for those who want to explore deeper in the park, there are ways to do that, too.

Planning a cruise to Alaska or elsewhere? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 15 best cruise ships for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your first cruise

Glacier Park Boats

Glacier Park Boat Company

Scenic Boat Tours in Glacier National Park since 1938!

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Hiking Information

This service is operated by Glacier Park Boat Company, a Concessioner under contract with the U.S. Government and administered by the National Park Service. The Concessioner is responsible for conducting these operations in a satisfactory manner. Services and prices are approved by the National Park Service.

Please address comments to: Superintendent Glacier National Park PO Box 128 West Glacier, Montana 59936

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Glacier Park Boat Company 282 Sunrise Creek Loop Columbia Falls, MT 59912 406-257-2426 888-611-0747

Yakutat Charter Boat Company

Hubbard Glacier Tour

The Hubbard Glacier, Disenchantment Bay, and Russell Fjord are as wonderful natural treasures as any. Guided tours are available with Yakutat Charter Boat Company’s experienced skippers.

Traversing the iceberg-riddled waters en route to the glacier, is only the beginning. Standing safely onboard our heated vessels as the Hubbard calves off apartment-building-size pieces of ice is one of this world’s most awesome experiences.

Along the way, bear, moose, deer, sea otters, killer whales and many nesting seabirds are often seen. Huge fault lines along the West Coast are seen, and a little about the natural history of this dynamic region is explained.

These tours are a great way to spend time while waiting for one of Yakutat’s twice daily jets. Tours are 4-5 hours long, and starting and ending times can be tailored to your schedule.

Rates for Hubbard Glacier tour

$240 per person, plus applicable taxes (four-person minimum).

Note: Fishing Charter / Glacier Tour full-day combination packages are available on a custom request basis for $560/person plus tax (minimum of 4 guests required).

* Other charter transportation services to the glacier including filming crew, science / research needs, etc. are available. Please call for more details and to discuss your special needs.

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Glacier Bay Lodge - Glacier Bay National Park

E pic Guide to Glacier Bay Lodge in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska including room tour and video, restaurant review, booking, check-in, airport shuttles, and more.

Glacier Bay Lodge

Staying at the Glacier Bay Lodge was a big goal on our National Park Bucket List . We have been talking about trying to make a trip to this epic National Park Lodge happen for years.

We finally made it happen and now we want to book a return trip asap. The lodge far exceeded our expectations and we would happily return for another stay.

As I type this sitting in the lodge restaurant waiting for the airport shuttle there are multiple humpbacks feeding in Bartlett Cove right in front of the lodge.

So far today we have seen multiple humpback whales and sea otters in Bartlett Cove right in front of the lodge. We are honestly in awe of the wildlife we have been able to see while walking the beach trail to the Glacier Bay Bartlett Cove Campground.

We watched a humpback slap its tail in the water for a few minutes and then breach out of the water. Everyone on the lodge deck gasped and was so excited. We had been watching the whales swim back and forth in the bay when all of a sudden one jumped.

This lodge is a whale-watching dream come true. You can hear the whales in the morning from the room. We could hear them puffing out air and breathing when we woke up.

The cabins at Glacier Bay Lodge are super comfortable. We had to set an alarm so we didn’t sleep through breakfast the bed was so comfortable.

If you are looking for an epic experience in Glacier Bay National Park we highly suggest staying in the Glacier Bay Lodge. The lodge is the only hotel located within Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska! 

Glacier Bay Lodge offers tours of Glacier Bay via an epic boat tour, Park Rangers on-site to answer questions and on the boat tour, shuttle service from the airport, and so much more. 

Booking/Reservations

Season - Late May to early September. The lodge is only open during the summer months typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

Reservations can be made online or by calling 888.229.8687

Getting to Glacier Bay Lodge

The lodge is located 10 miles from Gustavus, Alaska. 

There are a couple of ways to get to Glacier Bay Lodge - Air or Sea. 

You can fly to Gustavus/Glacier Bay via Alaska Air which is how we reached the lodge. 

Alaska Seaplanes offers 6 flights a day from Juneau to Gustavus/Glacier Bay. I will say that during our stay there were a few days that the seaplanes were unable to travel due to the fog and weather in the area. 

With that being said we had to attempt landing a few times before landing on the 3rd attempt due to low-lying fog in Gustavus. One thing to know when traveling to Glacier Bay NP and Gustavus is weather can definitely impact your trip.

The Alaska Ferry travels to Gustavus on a daily route that travels from Juneau → Gustavus → Hoonah. Find out more about booking Alaska ferry tickets on the Alaska Marine Highway Website . 

Airport Transportation

There is a free shuttle bus from Gustavus Airport to the Glacier Bay Lodge. It is an old school bus that we found parked at the side of the airport when we arrived.

We didn’t see it at first but realized it was just down from the airport. Don’t worry the airport is TINY so you don’t have to travel far.

We arrived on the airport shuttle bus directly to the lodge. A lodge employee came onto the bus and gave us a few safety rules and explained where things were at the lodge. They had our keys and a map ready when each party got off the bus.

Within a couple of minutes, we were heading to our cabin to drop off our luggage and start exploring.

2 Double Bed Deluxe Room

We stayed in cabin #35 which includes 2 double beds, a table with 2 chairs, a private bathroom with shower/tub, toilet, a sink, and a small closet.

The room has a partial view of Bartlett Cove through a few trees.

We found the double beds to be extremely comfortable. The windows open with screens on them so we had fresh air coming into the room which was amazing.

We had to force ourselves out of bed so we could get breakfast before our 8-hour Glacier Bay Boat Tour.

The nightstand has a lamp with 2 electrical plug-ins for charging phones. You will need to bring a cord and adaptor to plug into the lamp. There are no USB plug-ins.

The bathroom has small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion along with a small bar of soap.

Free Wi-Fi is only available in the main lodge lobby.

There are two types of rooms available at the Glacier Bay Lodge - Lodge Rooms (Standard and ADA Standard) and Deluxe Rooms.

Standard Rooms have 2 double beds or 1 king or 1 double and 1 bunk bed, and private bathrooms.

ADA Standard Rooms are located on ground level and include roll-in showers, grab bars, a lowered sink bathroom in the private bathroom, and 1 double bed, and can accommodate 3 guests. 

Deluxe Rooms have either 2 double beds or 1 king bed, a Bartlett Cove View, a private bathroom, and easy access to the main building. 

All of the rooms have easy access to the main lobby, shores of Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay Day Tour daily boat excursions, laundry facilities, and customer service. 

The cabins are spread out among the towering Sitka Spruce Trees. There are boardwalks and stairs connecting the cabins to the main building. 

The 49-room lodge overlooks Bartlett Cove with majestic views of the Fairweather Mountain Range.

We found the room to be incredibly comfortable. It is not large but has everything you need for the time you spend in the room.

Fairweather Dining Room Restaurant

The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner. The restaurant is located in the main lodge building. Reservations are requested for dinner and can be made at the front desk.

Breakfast is a buffet that included scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, French toast, bagels, and cereal. They also have coffee, tea, and water available during breakfast.

The dinner menu has quite a wide variety of dishes including halibut fish and chips, baked halibut, chicken, steak, and an impossible burger for vegetarians. We highly suggest getting the spinach dip it was amazing.

Our dinners averaged $110 a night for 2 people with 2 iced teas, an appetizer, and 2 entrees with tips. When we booked our room, we were able to find a deal with the boat tour and breakfast included in the rate.

There is a really nice gift shop open all day in the main lodge building. They have a great variety of Glacier Bay-themed souvenirs. They also offer snacks and some pre-made sandwiches for lunch.

The gift shop has some local Alaskan beer available by the can, some soda, and bottled water. They also have a variety of trail snacks.

Make sure to pick up a Glacier Bay National Park Coloring Book designed by our friend Kristi Trimmer. They sell them in the gift shop and they are amazing.

The lodge lobby has a gorgeous stone fireplace with comfy couches and chairs. It is the place to relax while waiting on the airport shuttle back to Gustavus Airport. With only one flight out a day, you have the opportunity to relax for a few hours in comfort.

There is free WiFi so it is the perfect place to check emails and social accounts while warming up by the fire.

The large windows offer dramatic views of Bartlett Cove. We spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace relaxing and talking with other guests.

After a full day of exploring the lobby is the perfect place to relax. 

National Park Service Visitor Center

The Glacier Bay NP Visitor Center is located upstairs in the main lodge. There are stairs to reach the visitor center. A ranger is on duty 2 hours a day from 11 am to 1 pm.

The visitor center can be visited during the day at any time to check out the great interpretive displays.

National Park Service Programs are offered daily and rotate to provide new programs nightly.

The grounds surrounding Glacier Bay Lodge are beautiful and well worth exploring. There is a .25-mile trail along the coastline to the Glacier Bay Campground. There is also a forest trail that is 1.5 miles round trip and guides you through a temperate rainforest.

The Tlingit trail travels from the boat dock to the clan house and passes by multiple cool exhibits. You can see a Tlingit Canoe, the skeleton of “Snow” a famous humpback whale, and information about the flora and fauna of the area.

Glacier Bay Boat Tour

An eight-hour tour is offered directly from the Bartlett Cove Marina for guests of the lodge and day visitors.

The boat tour travels up to Margerie Glacier and includes dramatic views of deep fjords, the summer feeding grounds of Humpback Whales, coastal mountains, and Southeast Alaska. 

During our Glacier Bay Boat Tour, we saw humpback whales, killer whales, mountain goats, harbor seals, stellar sea lions, grizzly bears also called coastal bears, migratory birds, and so much more! 

Things to know when planning a trip to Glacier Bay Lodge

Cancellation Policy

Reservations made 30 or more days prior to arrival have a 10-day grace period to change or cancel the itinerary at no charge from the time of booking. 

Reservation cancellations or changes made outside of 72 hours prior to arrival will receive a refund less a 10% change or cancellation fee.

Canceling within 72 hours prior to arrival will result in full payment forfeiture.

Payment Policy

Advanced payment is required at the time of booking reservations. Payment may be made by credit card only.

Glacier Bay Lodge and Tours is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service.

We did not have cell phone service during our stay at the lodge. 

Glacier Bay Lodge History

The lodge was designed by Seattle architect John Morse to include a blend of rustic architecture with 1960s modernism.

The lodge was part of the National Parks Mission 66 project to welcome and accommodate many generations of park visitors. 

John Morse also designed the visitor center at Sitka National Historical Park in Sitka, Alaska.

For the Glacier Bay Lodge, John Morse designed a complex that heavily employed heavy timber posts, asymmetrical pitched roof, triple triangular dormers, and expansive windows to showcase the views of Bartlett Cove.

The boardwalks between the main lodge building and the cabins were created to immerse visitors in the temperate rainforest.

The lodge was completed in 1966 and is a showcase of Park Service Modern Architecture. 

Park Ranger John Pro-Tip

Mission 66 was a 10-year project proposed to Congress in 1955 by Conrad Wirth, the Director of the National Park Service. The goal behind this proposal was to modernize the National Park Service and its facilities in time for the park's 50th anniversary. 

This was a vital step forward for the park service as the US had developed the modern highway system. The automobile was becoming more and more affordable leading to the unprecedented increase in auto tourism to the National Parks 

Projects outlined in mission 66 included building lodges, campgrounds, visitor centers, and trails that continue to serve guests today. Most notably about the Mission 66 program was the implementation of park visitor centers, a central part of almost every park visit today! 

Additional Alaska National Park Resources

Check out our 3 Alaska National Park Trip including Denali, Kenai Fjords, and Glacier Bay NP! 

Each of these National Parks would need to be reached via a plane flight. 

Denali National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

Lake Clark National Park

Katmai National Park

Wrangell St. Elias National Park

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

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Glacier Bay Lodge - Glacier Bay National Park

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  1. Surprise Glacier Cruise

    glacier bay alaska boat tours

  2. Alaska's Inside Passage Cruise

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  3. Glacier Bay Plus Denali Alaska Vacation Tour From Vancouver

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  4. Small-Ship Cruising in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park

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  5. Glacier Bay Tour Boat

    glacier bay alaska boat tours

  6. Glacier Bay National Park Tours

    glacier bay alaska boat tours

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  1. Glacier bay Alaska

  2. 5TH DAY: GLACIER BAY / ALASKA CRUISE / NORWEGIAN ENCORE NCL

  3. Glacier Bay, Alaska

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  5. Glacier Bay, Alaska, Margerie Glacier, Grand Pacific Glacier. Holland America Cruise, Konningsdam

  6. Glacier Bay Alaska #alden #aldenoblena #seamanslife #alaskaextreme #alaskaphotography #alaska #happy

COMMENTS

  1. Glacier Bay Tour Boat

    Scroll down to find links and info for booking tours in Glacier Bay. Each morning through the summer, a tour boat leaves Bartlett Cove and travels 130 miles through Glacier Bay. For seven hours it will take passengers on a journey through a landscape rich with wildlife, full of human stories and still maturing from recent rebirth.

  2. Glacier Bay Day Tour

    Prices. Adult: $271.61. Child (Ages 3-12): $141.90. Prices for the full-day cruise includes lunch and beverages such as coffee, tea, water and lemonade. Additional Services. Camper drop-off or pick-up service is also available for $149.38 for adults and $78.04 for children.

  3. Glacier Bay Cruises

    Glacier Bay Cruise - Tour Packages from Juneau. Experience and discover Glacier Bay National Park in southeast Alaska on one of our best selling 1-4 day all-inclusive package tours with daily flight departures from Juneau, Skagway or Haines. Join the full day Glacier Bay Cruise and stay overnight in first-class wilderness lodges at Bartlett ...

  4. Glacier Bay National Park Tours

    We are proud to offer the best tours Alaska has to offer with Alaska shore excursions at wholesale prices. 212 Admiral Way Ste. 5 Juneau, Alaska 99801 1-888-586-8489

  5. Glacier Bay National Park Tours

    Glacier Bay National Park Day Tour. Location: Glacier Bay National Park Duration: 8 hours Highlights: Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, two towering masses of ice and snow rising 245 feet above the waterline and stretching another 100 feet below the water. Price: Adults $275.00, 12 & under $135.00 Trip Summary: Join us on The Baranof Wind Glacier Tour, an eight-hour cruise aboard a 149 ...

  6. Glacier Bay National Park Tours

    All Glacier Bay Alaska National Park tours are best experienced on the water, whether by cruise ship or a small boat tour. The fjords are full of marine wildlife, such as whales, porpoises, sea lions, seals, and otters. The tidewater glaciers are easily accessed by boats, and the retreat of these glaciers opens the lands for numerous plants and ...

  7. GBP#01 Full Day Glacier Bay Tour

    07:15 am Cruise Departure into famous Glacier Bay. 12:00 pm Lunch onboard the Vessel. 03:30 pm Return to Bartlett Cove. approximate 04:00 pm - 5:30 pm Transfer to Gustavus Airport. approximate 04:30 pm - 7:30 pm Flight Departure from Gustavus. approximate 05:00 pm - 8:00 pm Arrival at Juneau Airport.

  8. Glacier Bay Boat Tour

    During the summer busy season (June 1- August 31), The National Park Service allows 2 Cruise ships, 1 Glacier Bay Boat Tour, and up to 25 personal boats to sail into Glacier Bay each day. This strict number is set by the National Park Service and is designed to protect the habitat for marine wildlife like fish, seabirds, and marine mammals that ...

  9. Tours and Cruises for Gustavus and Glacier Bay Alaska

    P.O. Box 148 - Gustavus, Alaska 99826. Phone: (907) 697-2334 (May- August), (907) 723-3065 (September- May) E-Mail & Reservations. Fairweather Adventures at Glacier Bay is an authorized concessioner of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. As such, we are able to offer small boat, private adventure cruises into Glacier Bay.

  10. Glacier Bay Day Boat

    Glacier Bay Day Boat. ... stellar sea lions, rare birds, coastal bears, seals, eagles, and so much more! This tour is the only scheduled day tour permitted inside Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour takes you on a ... Glacier Bay Lodge Gustavus 99826 Alaska. Phone Number 907-264-4616. Website https://www ...

  11. Glacier Bay Getaway

    Live your Alaskan dreams on this extensive exploration of the West Arm of Glacier Bay National Park ... Embark on an evening wildlife cruise with a local tour operator who has over 50 years of experience offering tours in the region. Enjoy Alaska-themed appetizers as your spot whales and wildlife. ... Juneau Tours Glacier Bay Getaway True ...

  12. Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour Review: Read This Before You Go!

    You can book a spot on the boat tour online here. Here are the prices: Adult: $243.74. Child (Ages 3-12): $122.69. Note that they don't allow changes or cancellations within 72 hours. The boat departs from the Bartlett Cove public dock which is located just outside of Glacier Bay Lodge.

  13. Glacier Bay Lodge & Tours

    Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, AK — a World Heritage Site in the United States — is a 3.3 million acre treasure of natural wonders and wildlife near Juneau, Alaska. Magnificent glaciers, towering snow-capped mountains, abundant birds & wildlife, and mile after mile of pristine coastline. Whether you are here for a day or a week, you ...

  14. Alaska's Northern Passages & Glacier Bay

    June 29 - July 6, 2024. There is no place in the world like Alaska, a wilderness so special that many of our guests return here again and again. Enjoy a fabulous week cruising Alaska's Inside Passage and visiting Glacier Bay National Park, a bucket list trip featuring whales, puffins, glaciers, icebergs, and possible Grizzly and Black Bear ...

  15. Glacier Bay National Park Glacier Tours

    The Highlights. Winter Escape. Off the Beaten Path. Alaska Cruise. Alaska Monthly. We'll match you with a local itinerary expert to help you plan your trip. Get up close and personal with a glacier outside of Glacier Bay National Park. Explore by air, by boat, or even go walking on a glacier.

  16. Sea Wolf Adventures active small ship cruise adventure, Glacier Bay

    Our routes span the breadth of the Alaska Inside Passage and Glacier Bay. Onboard the Sea Wolf you will always find an option to suit your mood - relaxing on the heated aft deck enjoying a panoramic view, learning about the nature of the Pacific Northwest from our naturalist, or participating in long or short paddles and hikes. ...

  17. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve AK

    This full-day Alaska boat tour of the West Arm of Glacier Bay departs each morning from the dock in front of Glacier Bay Lodge. Although the Park is open year-round, the park's Visitor Center (upstairs at Glacier Bay Lodge) and most services are open from roughly mid-May to mid-September. Winter services are limited. Entrance to the park is free.

  18. How to Visit Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska: Ultimate Guide

    Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is surrouned by water, mountains and ice and is not accessible by road. Glacier Bay is located west of Juneau, Alaska. You'll need to get to Juneau first in order to get to the park. Glacier Bay National Park is located on a peninsula that is surrounded by water and icefields and there are no roads in or ...

  19. Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve: The complete guide

    In addition to taking the Glacier Bay Day Tour up the bay on the park tour boat ($262.44 per adult; $137.11 for children ages 3 to 12), visitors will find opportunities to hike, kayak and camp. The day tour on the park tour boat includes stops at two glaciers — Margerie and Grand Pacific.

  20. Glacier Park Boat Company

    The Concessioner is responsible for conducting these operations in a satisfactory manner. Services and prices are approved by the National Park Service. Please address comments to: Superintendent. Glacier National Park. PO Box 128. West Glacier, Montana 59936. Glacier National Park boat tours and rentals.

  21. Hubbard Glacier Tour

    Address P.O. Box 302 Yakutat, AK 99689. Phone 1-907-784-3433 (home) 1-907-744-4680 (cell) E-mail [email protected]

  22. Glacier Bay Lodge

    The lodge is the only hotel located within Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska! Glacier Bay Lodge offers tours of Glacier Bay via an epic boat tour, Park Rangers on-site to answer questions and on ...