The Fundamentals - Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service)

The Time of Year for Visitors

The primary season for visitors takes place from late-May until early-September, with the most popular month being July. While the park remains open throughout the rest of the year, visitor services are extremely limited during this time.

Climate and Attire

During the summer, temperatures typically range from 50° to 60° F (10° to 15° C). Rain is a common occurrence in southeast Alaska, so it is essential to be prepared for all types of weather, especially rain. It is recommended to wear waterproof boots, rain gear, a hat, gloves, as well as wool or pile layers or a warm coat.

Reaching the Park

There are no direct roads leading to Glacier Bay. The park's headquarters, Visitor Information Station, Visitor Center, and Glacier Bay Lodge are situated in Bartlett Cove, which is 10 miles away from the small town of Gustavus. Gustavus itself is located about 65 miles northwest of Juneau. Different travel options available from May to September include scheduled and charter air services, Alaska Marine Highway ferries, cruise ships, tour boats, and charter boats. More than 50 companies offer access to the park.

Private Boats

If you intend to enter Glacier Bay with your own vessel between June and August, you must acquire a free private boat permit. The number of permits issued each day is limited, so it is advisable to reserve one up to 60 days in advance.

Additional Services

In Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay Lodge provides lodging, a restaurant, a day tour boat, and fuel sales. Lodging, groceries, restaurants, and charter boats can also be found in Gustavus. Bus and taxi services are available as well. To explore all the available services within or near the park, please consult the Visitor Services Directory.

Activities Led by Park Rangers

The National Park Service Visitor Center, situated on the second level of Glacier Bay Lodge, is staffed by park rangers who are available for most of the day to answer questions. These rangers lead daily walks through the rainforest and screen informative films in the auditorium. Each evening, an engaging ranger program is presented in the auditorium. Children are encouraged to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. Books, maps, and other Glacier Bay materials are sold in the Visitor Center through Alaska Geographic.

Daily Tour Boat Excursion

The tour boat operated by Glacier Bay Lodge embarks on a nine-hour journey up the bay to the glaciers and back. A park ranger accompanies passengers on board, sharing information about the natural and cultural wonders of Glacier Bay.

Day Hiking

Bartlett Cove offers three trails of various lengths for day hikes. These trails can be quite muddy and wet, so it is advisable to wear rubber boots, also known as Southeast Alaskan Sneakers. Exploring the shoreline around Bartlett Cove is another excellent option.


Glacier Bay offers a wide range of camping experiences, ranging from the free walk-in campground at Bartlett Cove to more remote wilderness camping locations within the bay. A daily boat service transports campers to designated spots in the bay. At the Visitor Information Station, rangers provide camper orientations, issue backcountry permits, and supply bear-resistant food containers.


Sea kayaking is a popular way to explore the wilderness of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Kayak trips can start from Bartlett Cove, or kayakers can be dropped off by the daily tour boat. It is recommended to make reservations well in advance for both kayaks and the daily tour boat. Alternatively, guided day and overnight kayak trips into the park can be arranged.

Changing Tides

Within the boundaries of Glacier Bay, there are captivating fluctuations in the tides, reaching staggering heights of up to 25 feet over the course of merely six hours! To truly make the most of your adventure in Glacier Bay, it is crucial to be aware of the tidal patterns while embarking on a kayak journey, boating expedition, or shoreline hike.

Curious to know the current state of the tides during your stay? Then simply click HERE to explore the fascinating tidal conditions.

Thrilling River Rafting

Nestled amidst Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, you will find the magnificence of the Alsek River. However, it is important to obtain the necessary permits for private trips on the Tatshenshini/Alsek route. To secure these permits, you can get in touch with the esteemed Yakutat Ranger Station at (907)-784-3295 or listen to an informative river recording by dialing (907) 784-3370.

A Captivating Fishing Scene

Embark on an unforgettable fishing expedition in Glacier Bay, where you can discover an abundance of opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Please note that Alaska State fishing regulations are applicable, and it is crucial to possess a valid fishing license to participate in these activities.

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