Glacier Bay National Park

Jul 30, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


Our first day was spectacular! Today we visited Glacier Bay National Park. Described as one of the crown jewels of the national park system, this place left us all in awe. The day began in heavy fog. Large cruise ships could be heard sounding their foghorns, but not seen. A National Park Ranger and a native interpretive guide sailed with us all day.

The islands came out of the fog just enough for us to see the abundance of bird life and Steller sea lions on South Marble Island. Back into the mystery we went. Luckily, Sarah Keefer gave us instructions on binocular use before we arrived at South Marble Island, so we were ready. We saw the top of Gloomy Knob and a few mountain goats, then back into the fog. Max Seigal provided helpful photography tips in his presentation on wildlife photography.

Not more than half an hour later, the view was breathtaking. Mount Fairweather loomed above us at 15,325 feet above sea level. The glaciers had dropped numerous icebergs into the water and our approach to the ice face was slow. Once we achieved a good position in front of the Margerie Glacier, it disintegrated.

Massive walls of ice crashed to the sea. We were warned to get a good hold on as our ship rocked a little bit in the wave that followed the ice fall. The sun was so hot that many went back to their cabins for hats and sunscreen. The return trip towards the entrance of Glacier Bay remained sunny and beautiful.

We saw mountain goats laying in the shade, and salmon jumping in the water. Sea otters dotted our return route and we knew what we were looking at because of a wonderful lecture by Christine West. The day seemed to fly by. In no time at all, it was time for dinner as we neared Bartlett Cove. This area of the park provided hiking trails, a humpback whale skeleton and a native Tlingit tribal house for us to make use of after dinner. All this in one day, and it’s only the first day of our trip!

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee

Naturalist

For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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