Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is a natural wonderland of rivers, lakes, glaciers and mountains. The park is open year round with sparse services available in the winter season. The best time to visit Glacier Bay is from May to September. Early May and late September may bring harsher temperatures and weather.
Glacier Bay Weather
The temperature in Glacier Bay during the summer is typically between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. The National Park System recommends that all visitors be prepared for inclement weather. Rain is the most common adverse weather that a visitor in the summer will have to deal with. Visitors should bring rain gear as a minimum, and this includes waterproof hats, gloves and boots. This will ensure a more comfortable visit to Glacier Bay. It would also be wise to bring clothes that can be layered as the evenings may bring even cooler temperatures.
Traveling to Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay is located approximately 10 miles from the town of Gustavus which is 65 miles north of Juneau. The Glacier Bay Visitor Information Station and the Glacier Bay Lodge are in Bartlett Cove. There are no public roads that lead to Glacier Bay however there are a large number of commercial carriers, ferries, air services, tour boats and cruise ships that travel to Glacier Bay during the summer months.
The Glacier Bay Lodge in Bartlett Cove offers many services including tour boats, lodging, groceries and restaurants. You may also charter boats in the town of Gustavus. Taxi and Bus services are also available in the area. At the Glacier Bay Lodge you will also be able to visit the National Park Service Visitor Center on the second floor of the lodge. The rangers are available to answer questions and also to lead walks through the rain forest. Children may participate in the Junior Ranger Program and there is also plenty of Glacier Bay information, including maps and books available at the visitor center.
Hiking in Glacier Bay
If you love hiking Bartlett Cove offers three trails to choose from.
The beach trail follows the shore and provides excellent views of the cove and wildlife in and out of the water. This trail continues for many miles and a hiker may choose any distance to travel depending on the conditions and of course the hikers preference. The best bet is to keep an eye on the time of day and always give yourself plenty of time to hike back to the center.
Forest Loop Trail
The Forest Loop Trail is a one mile loop that takes between thirty minutes to an hour to complete. This trail takes you through the beach and forest in Bartlett Cove. The park rangers lead daily walks on the Forest Loop Trail at 2:00 PM and meet at the Lodge desk area.
The Bartlett River Trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and it may take between four and five hours to complete. This trail follows the lagoon to a forest and then ends in along the Bartlett River estuary. Along the trail you may encounter moose, coyotes and even bear. In addition, water bird such as ducks and geese are plentiful in the intertidal areas during migrations.
Bartlett Lake Trail
The Bartlett Lake Trail begins as the Bartlett River Trail. After you have traveled less than a mile down the River Trail you will see a sign that indicates a right turn onto the Lake Trail. This is an all-day trail and if you travel the full distance you will cover eight miles round trip. Keep in mind these trails are not maintained and it is possible to lose the route.
Be prepared for a potentially muddy hike, hiking boots are recommended!