Basic Facts About Glacier Bay National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and spectacularly beautiful US National Park, Glacier Bay National Park is home to vast landscapes composed of jagged mountains, massive glaciers, and freshwater lakes. Situated in Alaska’s panhandle not far from Juneau, the state capital, Glacier Bay National Park has much to offer. 


Glacier Bay National Park was originally carved into being by the enormous Grand Pacific Glacier. In 1794, Captain George Vancouver was the first to survey Glacier Bay in detail, recognizing the glacier as more than 4,000 feet thick and more than 100 miles long. In 1879, naturalist and author John Muir discovered that a bay had been formed where the glacier had retreated more than 30 miles. By 1916, the Grand Pacific Glacier had retreated more than 60 miles. 

Along with other conservationists, John Muir pushed for the protection of Glacier Bay and President Calvin Coolidge signed Glacier Bay National Monument into being in 1925. The monument was elevated to national park status by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, which also expanded the boundaries of the park. Glacier Bay National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.


Glacier Bay National Park is characterized by jagged snow capped mountains, coastal beaches, vast tidewater glaciers, deep fjords, rocky valleys, freshwater rivers and lakes, and plenty of native wildlife. The park’s tides can be intense and change dramatically to as much as 25 feet within a 6-hour period. The region is situated in the rugged Gulf of Alaska and is home to the snowy Fairweather Range.

Places to Visit After Glacier Bay National Park

Situated in Alaska’s panhandle, Glacier Bay National Park is home to massive glaciers, a variety of wildlife, and breathtaking natural landscapes. Once you’ve had your fill of this gorgeous national park, head to the following destinations to continue your trip!

Gustavus – The international gateway to Glacier Bay National Park, Gustavus, Alaska offers a variety of restaurants, lodging accommodations, groceries, and supplies outside the park. Gustavus is the natural next stop to continue your trip, either before or after your visit to Glacier Bay National Park.

Juneau, Alaska – Head to Juneau, the capital of Alaska, to continue your trip from Glacier Bay National Park. There’s Plenty to do in Juneau, from fishing and wildlife viewing to restaurants, shops, and outdoor recreation.

Haines, Alaska – Another of the gateway towns to Glacier Bay National Park is Haines, Alaska. Head to nearby Chilkoot Lake for a scenic day trip and enjoy the town’s distilleries and breweries, picturesque landscapes, and outdoor recreation activities. 

Skagway, Alaska – A small historic city nestled into southeastern Alaska, Skagway makes for a unique stop on your trip before or after visiting Glacier Bay National Park. Take a tour on the antique railroad to experience breathtaking views of this gorgeous region.

Anchorage, Alaska- You’ll have to fly, but Anchorage, Alaska offers plenty of exciting things to do and explore. Alaska’s largest city is filled with cultural heritage sites, stunning landscapes, hiking trails, outdoor activities, bars, restaurants, shops, and more.