4 Breath-Taking Glaciers in Alaska
Alaska’s famed Inside Passage is one of the world’s most stunning destinations. Here, you can gawk at the awe-inspiring natural world: Pristine nature, whale watching and wildlife, and of course, Alaska’s iconic glaciers.
The Passage – which runs from Juneau and Glacier Bay in the north, to Ketchikan in the south – puts on a dazzling display of ice. The region is home to some of Alaska’s largest, most picturesque and, and awe-inspiring ice crags, and exploring the Passage’s glaciers offers a number of firsts. Like seeing a glacier “calve” and drop a 10-story berg into the sea, or gawking at the sheer enormity of a 400-foot high, 2-mile wide mountain of ice. Bottom line, if you fancy yourself an explorer, chartering a yacht in Alaska will let you live your dreams.
Which glaciers are must-see destinations? These four – which sit near many of Alaska’s top charter destinations like Juneau and Glacier Bay – offer a chance to witness nature in all its majesty. Just be sure to bring your best camera!
1. Tracy Arm Fjord
About 70 miles south of Juneau, you’ll find Tracy Arm Fjord, a narrow, inlet with towering, craggy walls. The fjord is awe-inspiring all by itself, with waterfalls and national protected forests along the way. If you’re lucky, you might see a black or brown bear, harbor seals, or wolves in the adjacent Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness.
But the real reason to visit is the fjord’s glaciers. Tracy Arm is home to some of Alaska’s most photogenic glaciers, including Sawyer Glacier. Sawyer is an active tidewater glacier – which means large chunks “calve” off. And when you see it up close, you’ll have the chance to witness one of these massive bergs breaking off and crashing to the sea below, as it’s known to calf regularly.
2. Glacier Bay National Park
If you’re in search of glaciers, you’ll find plenty in Glacier Bay National Park. Located north of Juneau, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers many spectacular sights to see, including 7 active tidewater glaciers.
Glacier Bay is home to some of the Alaska’s largest active glaciers. Grand Pacific Glacier – for instance – sits at the back coast of the bay. Grand Pacific measures two miles wide, with ice walls towering 15 stories. Grand Pacific’s neighbor, Magerie Glacier, though is star of the show.
Margerie is majestic. With an ice face measuring 25 stories tall, watching the glacier drop ice into the bay will take your breath away. Beyond the glaciers, the National Park is also an incredible spot for whale-watching, kayaking and other water sports.
3. Hubbard Glacier
Hubbard Glacier – north of Glacier Bay – is North America’s largest tidewater glacier. This is a massive giant you have to see to believe. Measuring 6+ miles wide, the glacier is continuing to grow, or “surge,” and Hubbard towers 40 stories tall.
The glacier is known for its calving. In fact, icebergs measuring 10 stories tall commonly break off and crash down, in an explosive display of natural beauty.
Hubbard is also one of most beautiful glaciers in Alaska, with jade blue and frozen sapphire hues. Not only does it wow with its vastness – it’s also a treasure to see up close. But the journey is also half the fun. The Disenchantment Bay and journey into the fjord put on a show of wildlife. The fjord is home to seal and whale populations, and the region is well-known for its fishing.
4. Mendenhall Glacier
You can’t visit Juneau without a trip to Mendenhall Glacier. Located just 10 miles from downtown Juneau, the glacier is part of the Juneau Icefield, a photographic panorama of steel blue ice that’s been here since the last Ice Age.
Not only is the journey out to Mendenhall worth the trek, but you’ll be welcomed by natural beauty along the way. The glacier is surrounded by nearly 6,000 acres of protected forest, and charterers regularly see wildlife and stunning landscapes when visiting.