Glacier Bay National Park

May 28, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

In the morning light we pulled out of Bartlett cove and started our day’s voyage into Glacier Bay National Park. Sunlight broke through the winding clouds to give us a beautiful start to our day. Our day’s voyage took us up through the bay, northward through this pristine landscape. After introductions from our park ranger cultural interpreter, we cruised to South Marble Island. This small rock hosts hundreds of nesting birds, dozens of Steller sea lions, and gave us up close views of these charismatic animals in abundance. The tufted puffins were present by the dozen and offered us views of their delightful bright orange feet and bills.

We continued north, searching for wildlife. As we cruised by Gloomy Knob we pointed out at mountain goats mounted precariously along the landscape’s steep rock face. In Russel Cut we had our first short glimpse of brown bears while en route to the magnificent glaciers at the head of the bay. The ice chunks in the water became more and more numerous until we reached the faces of the glaciers. In awe we watched as ice calved with thunderous booms of several ice tons collapsing into the water before us. Few things are as remarkable witnessing.

As we headed south our watchfulness payed off. A group of five black bears, two of them cubs, were on the beach, offering us a long moment of observation. Shortly thereafter we spotted two more black bears, one large brown bear, and a pod of killer whales to top it all off. The day was getting better by the mile, so much so that even our guides, who spend every day in Glacier Bay, said it was one for the books.

To end our day we took evening hikes around Bartlett cove and enjoyed the visitor’s center at the park’s headquarters. There were birds singing in the forest, porcupines in the trees, and plenty of lovely plants along our walks. Another amazing day in a phenomenal place.

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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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