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By the Numbers: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve


Glacier Bay cruise ship passengers enjoy the view. NPS photo.

Glacier Bay National Park, the core attraction of  the ever-popular Inside Passage cruise ship route, is noted for its tidewater glaciers, abundant watchable wildlife, and gorgeous mountain-backed scenery. Here are a few statistics that reveal the character of this remarkable park.


Acreage of the World Heritage Site comprised of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, one other American park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve), and two Canadian parks (Kluane National Park Reserve and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park). It's the largest World Heritage Site yet designated.


Total acreage of the 3,223,018 acre Glacier Bay National Park and the 58,406 acre Glacier Bay National Preserve, which are counted as two separate units of the National Park System.  Glacier Bay National Park is so big that you could carve a Yellowstone-sized chunk out of it and have a little over a million acres left over. 


Federally designated wilderness acreage in the park. Only a few national parks, all of them in Alaska, have more designated wilderness.

607,000 acres

Marine water acreage of Glacier Bay under National Park Service management. 


Recreational visits in 2010, which established a new visitation record for the park and was the fifth consecutive year of 400,000+ attendance.  Glacier Bay ranks 46th in attendance, among the 58 National Park-designated units -- slightly behind Crater Lake and just ahead of Canyonlands.

15,325 feet

Elevation of Mount Fairweather (aka Fairweather Mountain), the tallest mountain in the park. Despite its name, this coastal mountain is noted for cold, windy, snowy weather that creates miserable conditions for climbing.

75 to 200 years

Age of the ice at the front of a tidewater glacier in this park. Some of the glacial ice that visitors see calving at the face of the tidewater glaciers was created from snow that fell before the American Revolution.

60 miles

Distance that the Grand Pacific Glacier has melted back (to Tarr Inlet) since 1916.  The Grand Pacific Glacier was largely responsible for carving Glacier Bay.

50s to low 60s (°F)

Daytime temperatures typically encountered by summer visitors.  The refrigerating effect of glacial ice and cold ocean water insures prevailingly chilly temperatures.

30 to 50 tons

Typical weight of the adult humpback whales that visitors see feeding and resting in Glacier Bay. 

8 hours

Duration of high-speed catamaran tours offered by Glacier Bay Lodge. These ranger-narrated trips visit two of the park's tidewater glaciers, Margerie and Grand Pacific.


Tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The mile-wide John Hopkins Glacier, which is located about 63 nautical miles from Bartlett Cove, is perhaps the most scenic of the Glacier Bay tidewater glaciers.


Number of marked and maintained trails, ranging in length from one mile to eight miles. All are accessed at Bartlett Cove, and all offer fairly easy walking. There are no maintained trails in the designated wilderness.


Maximum number of cruise ships allowed to enter Glacier Bay each day, year round, per regulations that went into effect in January 2007. Seasonal limits are also imposed.  The June-July-August ("prime season") quota is currently 153 use days. The May and September ("shoulder season") limit is 92 use days.  Four cruise ship companies have contracts allowing them to operate in park waters during 2010-2019.


Campground in the park.  At Bartlett Cove there this a free walk-in campground in a very scenic shoreline setting about a quarter-mile south of the Bartlett Cove dock. In addition to specified sites, this facility has a warming shelter, outhouses and three bear-proof food caches.


Road access for visitors. Visitors can access this park only by sea or air. The great majority of Glacier Bay visitors arrive via cruise ship, and some experience the park from the air or from private boats. Most do not set foot on land.

For further information, click to this Traveler's Checklist for Glacier Bay National Park.

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And one other number: "10."  That's my score on a scale of one to ten for the quality of our two visits to this park, with the "10" being tops. We found it was worth the time and expense to get here, and to spend several nights there.

We stayed three nights at Glacier Bay Lodge during our 2008 national park lodge tour.  We flew from Seattle to Glacier Bay by way of Juneau.  We stopped for two nights in Juneau on the return.  Quite an interesting town.  This was our first visit to the park and we really enjoyed our time there.  We took both the cruise of Glacier Bay and the evening whale-watching cruise.  Each was a great experience.  Cruising along side the whales was something special.  While there I thought about what wonderful summer a college student would have working at the lodge.

   Your last "number" is zero for the number of roads in the Park.  I thought that there was a road that connected from the Alaskan town of Gustavus; you'd fly in there and then reach the Park by taxi or bus, or at least that was what was once listed on their NPS website.  Has this road been closed for some reason, and if so, why?  Thanks.

You're right about that road connection to Gustavus, toothdoctor, but it's not clear to me that visitors can use it to access the park. Here is what the park's website has to say about this (italics are mine):

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve lies west of Juneau, AK and can
only be reached by plane or boat
. The only road merely connects the
small town of Gustavus and its airfield to park headquarters at Bartlett Cove (10 miles).

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