A recent survey shows seeing glaciers is the number one reason people visit Alaska. With an estimated 100,000 glaciers in the state, Alaska cruisers can expect to see at least one of the following glaciers on their trip.
Glacier Bay National Park is a preservation area that spans across 3.2 million acres. Cruisers can be taken as close as ¼ mile of the tide water glaciers that line the 60 mile passageway of narrow fjords. As you sail through, expect to see and hear some of these glaciers break off in chunks with a loud splash! Having the most glaciers and with only two ships permitted to enter the area per day, Glacier Bay is one of the most sought after destinations on a cruise itinerary.
Hubbard Glacier is the biggest tidewater glacier in North America covering over 1,350 square miles in area, over 70 miles in length, and 300 feet in height. The deep blue colour distinguishes it as being active glacial ice. Unlike other glaciers that are shrinking and retreating, Hubbard Glacier is thickening and advancing toward the Gulf of Alaska.
Sawyer Glacier is made of twin tidal glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer and located at the end of Tracy Arm fjord. Although not as well-known as Glacier Bay, it’s just as impressive; some may argue even more so. With a 7,000 foot high snowcapped mountain frame, Sawyer Glacier calves on average once an hour.
With 16 glaciers, lining the 20-mile long fjord, College Fjord contains the highest density of tidal glaciers in the Alaska. In 1898, a group on a scientific expedition stumbled upon the field of ice as they searched for alternate Klondike route that didn’t require going into the Yukon, Canada.
The group named the glaciers after well-known colleges in the United States, of which their members attended. Harvard glacier is the most prominent at 1.5 miles wide and approximately 225 feet high.
At 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and just a 13 mile drive from downtown Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier is the only glacier that can seen inside city limits. Take an excursion through the cruise line or go on a local bus to get up close. There are hiking trails 0.3 miles to 68 miles around the visitor center offering great views of the glacier.