Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is one of the most spectacular destinations in Alaska, containing sixteen glaciers and covering over 5,000 square miles. But because it's tucked away in a corner of the Inside Passage and not accessible by road, many people think it's difficult to reach. It's not. The Alaska Marine Highway offers year-round service to nearby Gustavus, making it easy to visit the park in just a few days.
Ferry from Juneau to Gustavus (+)
Ferry from Juneau to Gustavus (-)
Ferries run two to four days per week during summer months, so you've got the flexibility to make the trip fit into your schedule. Gustavus is a community of just over 400 people and the perfect place to launch your Glacier Bay adventure. Grab some lunch (if you didn't eat on the ferry), then check out the town's little shops and art galleries. Or walk the nearby trails and beaches. In the evening, have dinner at your inn or lodge and snuggle in for the night.
Gustavus — Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park (+)
Gustavus — Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park (-)
The most popular way to experience Glacier Bay is by boat. Book a charter (many of which can be booked as a package with a stay at a lodge), grab a rain jacket and spend the day on the water. You’ll see floating icebergs and glaciers. The wildlife viewing is almost always excellent. From whales, sea lions and seals splashing alongside your boat to bears meandering along the coast to eagles soaring overhead, your camera won't get much rest. If you would like to get a bit more off the beaten path, kayak through the park's Beardslee Islands during your two-day visit. Or if you would prefer an awe-inspiring eagle-eye view of the glaciers book a flightseeing tour.
Relax in Gustavus and Ferry Back to Juneau (+)
Relax in Gustavus and Ferry Back to Juneau (-)
After a lazy morning, enjoy a few hours walking the Gustavus boardwalk or beachcombing. Catch the ferry back to Juneau and enjoy the voyage through Alaska's famously beautiful forest- and mountain-shrouded Inside Passage. The four-and-a-half hour trip takes you through Icy Strait, considered to be one of the best whale watching areas in the state.