One thing you learn really quickly when planning a national park trip is that there are options. Lots of options.

This is a good thing.

You can visit Glacier Bay in a number of ways. 90 percent of its visitors arrive by cruise ship and never actually set foot on land. Glacier Bay is not connected to any part of the mainland by road; the remaining ten percent of visitors fly, ferry, or take a private boat into the park. And once you get to the park, there are more options: the $204 narrated day cruise, guided kayak trips, backpacking, staying at the in-park lodge, camping, day hiking, attending ranger programs, flightseeing, or just admiring the views.

Options may be overwhelming to people. To me they are exciting. I love gathering information, reading reviews, and planning awesome trips. So when we first looked into visiting Glacier Bay National Park (our 52nd national park this year), I enjoyed weighing these possible adventures against our tight year-long budget.

In the end, I think the way we chose to visit the park was the perfect fit for us. We:

  • Drove to Skagway, Alaska
  • Ferried from Skagway to Juneau
  • Spent a day exploring Juneau
  • Ferried from Juneau to Gustavus
  • Camped in the free park campground
  • Rented a kayak for a day to explore the nearby Beardslee Islands
  • Day hiked
  • Attended as many ranger programs as we could
  • Ferried back to Skagway

So we didn’t even see glaciers at Glacier Bay. But that’s okay. We did see humpback whales breaching only a hundred yards or so from our kayak. We saw two sunsets from the beach by our tent. We met the author of the official National Geographic National Park Centennial book.

There’s no wrong way to visit a national park.

I am believing that more and more. Cruisers are not wrong. Neither are backpackers or private boaters or flightseers. Enjoying our country’s most beautiful and sacred places in a respectful and responsible way will always be right.

The only wrong way to visit Glacier Bay is to never visit it.

See what we mean by watching our video below. You may or may not get to see a few of our new favorite wildlife.




(The embedding feature is not wanting to work with our current wifi so please go to here on YouTube to watch our video. We will get it up here as soon as we can!)

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Written by Elizabeth

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2 Comments on "Glacier Bay: A Park with Options (VIDEO)"

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Rob Durrett

We visited G/Bay in 2001 and did see what is left of the glacier at the end of the bay. You didn’t miss anything. At the time we did learn that Gustavis (sp) was rising an inch and a half each year due to the fact that the ice is no longer pressing down on it. The adventures of John Muier in G/Bay are interesting.