Glacier Bay National Park

Jun 10, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Today we had the privilege of visiting Glacier Bay National Park. This is truly one of the most esteemed spaces of Alaskan wilderness, and we had many destinations planned for our day’s voyage.

Our first stop that morning was South Marble Island. This rocky islet not only hosts numerous colonial nesting birds but is also a popular haul-out site for Steller sea lions. Kittiwakes flew around us in large flocks as the sea lions roared and sparred for prime spots on the rocks. We had our first encounter with puffins, picking out a small number of horned puffins among the swathes of tufted ones. It’s always special to see wildlife firsthand, but to see it in Alaska, in such abundance takes our amazement to new heights.

Heading northward through the glacially carved landscape, we kept an eye out for more wildlife. In a tidal inlet we spotted a black bear up on the hillside, coming in and out of the trees. Gloomy Knob, a large gray rock expanse that juts out into the bay, gave us immediate views of several pairs of adult mountain goats and their children. Seeing these cream-colored beauties always inspires wonder to how they live a life so precariously perched in their environment.

Sixty-five miles up bay at the end of Tarr Inlet lies the face of Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers. These massive flows of ice are responsible for carving the waters we spent our day in. We spent five minutes of silence observing the glacier calve ice into the sea, taking in our surroundings and giving respect to the majesty around us.

On our trip down bay we had a variety of activities to fill our afternoon. Our Alaska Native Voices Interpreter gave a presentation about the Tlingit living history in the area, we had watercolor painting with glacial water, our Global Explorers made (and ate!) a glacier out of ice-cream, and of course we were always looking out for wildlife.

After a lovely dinner we took walks around Barlett Cove and Glacier Bay’s visitor center. This phenomenal environment was a relaxing and beautiful end to another great 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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