Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Gustavus is a 3.3 million acre rugged & dynamic marine & coastal biosphere originally designated a National Monument through the Antiquities Act in 1925.
The Park was expanded in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter, became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, finally Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve was formally created on December 2nd, 1980.
Immense glaciers thousands of feet thick carved out the Bay during glacial advances 7,000, 5,000 & 500 years ago, the most recent retreat leaving glacial gravel 2,000 feet up the sides of the mountains.
The bulk of coastal peaks of the Saint Elias Mountains & Fairweather Range cradle the great fjord, it is a land “reborn” & rebounding as it is exposed to the elements by the retreating ice.
Top: Viewed from the ship while passing about a 2 mile stretch of beach, 6 Coastal Brown Bears (including a sow & twin sub-adults-left) lift rocks & scour the tideline for food, with the single bears staying very alert of the sow.
2nd Row: “Whale 68”, a Humpback whale struck by a cruise ship, was salvaged by Park staff, allowed to decompose, bones then collected & reassembled as a full skeleton for an outstanding educational display for the Park.
Beautiful & characteristic glacier-carved striated marine rock formations appeared all along the coastline.
Panorama 1: The Grand Pacific Glacier is a tidewater glacier at the head of the Glacier Bay 25 miles long, 2 miles wide, about 150 feet tall & 60 feet underwater at the terminus. It runs from Alaska deep into British Columbia.
Panorama 2: A few of the 10-12,000 foot grand spires of the Fairweather Range are silhouetted at sunset & are the ultimate barrier against the dangerous & violent storms that swing through the Gulf of Alaska.
Panorama 3: The massive tidewater Margerie Glacier spills into the fjord & measures 21 miles long & 350 feet thick. It forms below the northeastern face of 13,650 foot Mt. Quincy Adams.
Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve is a jewel of the US Park System & worth experiencing!