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Adventure to Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park

After three epic days on the Alaska Marine Highway, and the USWNT's epic win! LFG!...
We brought soccer along for the ride.
...we landed in a brand new (and epic) place: Glacier Bay National Park. If you are considering whether or not to come, consider no longer. This is a 100% MUST DO: remote, quiet, unique, breathtaking... We watched humpback whales, sea otters, seals, eagles and porcupines from our campsite.
Wandering the intertidal muck in Bartlett Cove.
A few tips from our visit:
  • The Alaska Marine Highway will get you to Gustavus. Or you can fly into a relatively large Gustavus airport. Taxies (some electric) will come and get you. You can also bring your own car, like us, but we think it was expensive and unnecessary. There is a gas station in Gustavus just in case.
Gas station in Gustavus
  • The Gustavus Inn and The Lodge at Glacier Bay seem like great (inside) places to stay. We thought we were going to stay at Seaside RV Park near town but could not find it. Luckily, after a short freak out, we found the Bartlett Cove campground instead.
The Lodge at Glacier Bay

Buzzing around the fireweed outside the showers at The Lodge.
  • Bartlett Cove campground is near the Park Visitor’s Center and an easy and flat walk with wheelbarrows to carry gear back and forth. Sites are quiet, clean, free and on the beach next to the dock where the daily Glacier Bay boat tour leaves. Brush your teeth and eat in the intertidal zone. Store your food in the food cache. Bathrooms are clean and smell-free.
  • We met all sorts of friendly people in the campground: a large group from Whitehorse, just back from a 7-day backcountry kayak trip (where two of them got engaged!), stopped to chat and admire the Tiger Moth while we were cooking dinner in the parking lot. And, we met several down-to-earth and outspoken Gustavus locals: originally from New Mexico and Colorado.
Campsite at Bartlett Cove
  • The daily boat tour is pricey but worth it. Plan for a long day. (Both kids took naps. I wish I had.) They provide drinks, snacks, lunch, binoculars and have beer on tap! Lots learned and seen on the boat tour including puffins! Alaska was burning, making views generally hazy but not enough to obscure gigantic mountains and glacial valleys.
Icebergs and Margerie Glacier

Happy Hour on the Glacier Bay Cruise
  • Multi-day kayak trips look life-changing though a guide is a good idea since the water is cold enough to cause rapid hypothermia, wildlife is abundant (grizzly bears are not rare and whales will surface under and tip over your kayak) and tides are drastic and will wash away your gear at night.
Loading and unloading kayaks for overnight, backcountry trips.

  • Most people see Glacier Bay from the deck of a big cruise ship but there are plenty of activities if you stay a few days on land in Bartlett Cove: evening programs at the Huna Tribal House, nature walks and hikes, exploring the intertidal zone, biking the (one) road to Gustavus, paddling the Bay.
Huna Tribal House
Foraging for berries.
Forest Loop Trail
We paddled the bay and barely made it back to the boat ramp.  Tides in Alaska are crazy!
We had a blast and will be heading back for a multi-day backcountry kayak tour. We recommend getting here as soon as you can!