National Park Vacations
Glaciers, whales & wilderness in Glacier Bay National Park
"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
~ Naturalist John Muir, on one of his first visits to Glacier Bay National Park
It’s hard to believe, but Glacier Bay National Park’s coastlines, fjords, rivers and lakes were completely covered by ice just over 200 years ago (Captain George Vancouver once described what we now know as Glacier Bay as a “small 5-mile indent in a gigantic glacier”). The massive glacier Vancouver described was more than 4,000 feet thick in places, up to 20 miles wide and 100 miles long! By 1879, however, Muir discovered that the ice had retreated more than 30 miles, forming an actual bay. By 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier – the glacier credited with carving the bay – had receded 60 miles to the head of what is now Tarr Inlet.
Austin-Lehman’s Southeast Alaska adventure takes you by boat in the company of expert park rangers into the Bay to get up-close with the Park’s diverse plant, marine and terrestrial life. Sail from the mouth of the Bay (where the land was released long ago from the grip of the glaciers) and take in the evergreen landscape of hemlock and spruce forest. Watch history unfold as you make your way into the Bay, noticing how the vegetation gets younger and smaller…until you reach the face of the ice, where nothing grows at all.
As you sail, watch for moose, bears, coyote and mountain goats on shore and peer skyward as bald eagles, arctic terns and jaegers soar overhead. Spot Minke whales, killer whales, Dall’s porpoise, harbor seals, sea otters, Stellar sea lions and – in the summer – humpback whales returning from their wintering grounds near Hawaii.
Follow in the footsteps of Vancouver and Muir on Austin-Lehman’s 6-day Glaciers, Whales & Wilderness vacation – relax your mind, energize your body ignite the adventurer within as you explore the wonders of Glacier Bay National Park.
Did You Know…
- The successional processes so evident in Glacier Bay National Park offers unparalleled opportunity for scientific observation. Countless glaciologists, geologists, plant ecologists and scientists have come to the Bay to study its dynamic landscape.
- While recounting his scientific work in Glacier Bay, a plant ecologist named William Cooper so inspired his colleagues at the Ecological Society of America that they started the movement to protect the bay and its environs.
- In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge declared Glacier Bay a national monument. Today Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve continues to protect these natural resources which offer a glimpse into ice ages past in the midst of a flourishing and dynamic natural environment.
- Marine waters make up nearly one fifth of the park and no point of land is more than 30 miles from the coast. This means that the lives of virtually all the animals at Glacier Bay are tied to its productive marine waters or the biologically rich near shore environment.