Glacier Bay National Park

May 30, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Living on the east coast of the U.S. it’s easy to forget how much of a role glaciers play in sculpting our landscapes. Not so in Glacier Bay, where the forces that carve our world are right in front of us. After picking up our guide from the national park and our Huna-Tlingit interpreter we enjoyed a calm morning cruising north while observing wildlife in the quiet of the morning.

One of the first delights of Glacier Bay was South Marble Island and its residents. Large numbers of black-legged kittiwakes rested on ledges of the rocky slopes, bursting into flight as a bald eagle passed by. We spotted many sea bird species—the tufted puffins allowing us particularly close views before taking flight. We had wonderful views of Steller’s sea lions hauled out on the rocks and swimming in the surrounding waters.

After receiving a tip from another vessel, we were able to watch a moose make its way along the rocky shoreline before it opted to swim alongside the beach. Northward on the same beach we watched a brown bear foraging along the beach to see what food it could find.

As we continued on, we had our first views of mountain goats precariously perched high in the sheer cliff faces. Gloomy knob offered us closer views of mountain goats, some with their young kids.

Entering Tarr Basin we reached Margarie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. As we snuck our way through the brash ice we got our first views of tidewater glaciers on our voyage. Margarie Glacier calved time after time creating spectacular cascades of ice accompanied by thunderous cracks and roars, and harbor seals were spotted using the glacial ice to haul out.

As we sailed south we took in views of more tidewater glaciers before steaming to Bartlett Cove. We wrapped up our day by stretching our legs on the gorgeous trails in the beautiful weather. Another full and glorious day in Southeast Alaska.

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About the Author

Steve Backus


Born in the mountains of East Tennessee, it was easy for Steve to fall in love with the wonderful natural environment that surrounded him. What started as a childhood passion to scan the creeks and ponds for all they would reveal evolved into a studied desire to understand the environments around us.

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