Located just a few miles from park headquarters, the town of Gustavus is the jumping-off point for adventures in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and a charming little village of artists, fantastic gardens, wild strawberries, stunning views and even a small golf course.
About Glacier Bay and Gustavus
With its spectacular glaciers and abundance of marine wildlife, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve has become the crown jewel in the itinerary of many cruise-ship and independent travelers. The bay features seven tidewater glaciers that spill out of the mountains and deposit icebergs of all shapes, sizes and shades of blue into the ocean. Of the park’s more than 300,000 annual visitors, over 90 percent visit on a cruise ship and never set foot on shore, but the independent travelers who come get the bonus of visiting nearby Gustavus as well.
Things to do
Bartlett Cove is the park headquarters and the site of a campground, a large commercial lodge, restaurant and bar and the only maintained hiking trails in the park. At Bartlett Cove, paddlers rent kayaks, visitors board tour boats for a 40-mile day cruise to see the glaciers up the bay and park rangers lead guided hikes and give naturalist programs. At the foot of the main dock is the National Park Service Visitor Information Station, where you can obtain backcountry permits, seek out information or purchase a variety of books or topographic maps that cover the park.
Gustavus is nine miles by road from Bartlett Cove. Independent travelers can take a short flight from Juneau via jet or air taxi, or hop on an Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Juneau. Like many places known for natural beauty, Gustavus boasts several acclaimed sculptors, painters, potters, jewelers and woodcarvers. You can see their work at local galleries, studios and shops in town. Beachcombing, hiking on the Nagoonberry Loop trail, biking through town or playing a round at the Mount Fairweather Golf Course are popular ways to spend the day, and a number of cozy, food-focused lodges provide a luxurious place to rest your head at night.