You haven’t really SEEN Glacier Bay if you’ve been there in a cruise ship, which typically spends only a few hours here. There’s much more to this vast national park, and we’ll be exploring it and some amazing neighboring territory over a period of eight days. Expect humpback whales and plenty of icebergs (we’ll walk right up to one of the largest glaciers). We’ll wander around on some beaches and photograph this amazing ancient ice from all angles. We’ll linger by the Marble Islands, with its puffin and sea lion colonies. Point Adolphus, south of Glacier Bay, features feeding humpback whales and we’ll get VERY close. We’ll see plenty of bald eagles. Often we see orcas, mountain goats and sea otters, and we’re likely to see both brown and black bears foraging at the tideline.
We eat and sleep aboard a 50-foot boat, which features four very tiny so-called “staterooms” with bunks. The boat takes up to eight passengers, and we’re there for you with our experienced captain, Ronn Patterson, who offers 40 years of cruising in the waters of Southeast Alaska. Our naturalist/first mate brings with him years of enjoying the natural history of Alaska, and our chef will woo you with fresh fish and lots of fresh-baked goodies. I’m there to help make sure you get amazing photos (although non-photographers also have a great time).
We begin the trip June 23 in Auke Bay, a port just north of Juneau. Our hotel offers a free shuttle service to and from Auke Bay. Juneau is accessible via Alaska Airlines jet; I suggest getting to Juneau a day early to enjoy this lovely town and to rest from the flight. From Auke Bay, we make our way northwest to Point Adolphus before crossing into Glacier Bay proper and exploring the beautiful rainforest trails around Bartlett Cove, where we may overnight. We then continue further north to Reid Glacier, where we’ll find plenty of close-up ice as well as beautiful wildflowers and waterfalls in this landscape that is newly exposed by the retreating ice. Then it’s northward to McBride Glacier with yet more grounded icebergs. The fartherest north we go is Marjerie Glacier, a vast tidewater glacier; close by are black-legged kittiwake (a type of gull) colonies. We’ll poke into John Hopkins Inlet with its seals and mountain that rise straight up about 14,000 feet from the sea. As conditions permit, we might do some kayaking. Then we’ll make our way south to a favorite “secret” spot, a wilderness within a wilderness, Dundas Bay, a green jewel of a place known for its muskeg, black bears and beautiful little islands. The bay features some of the finest fields of wildflowers in Alaska, with its multitudes of colors. Finally we’ll meander back to Juneau, perhaps via the tiny village of Elfin Cove.
I’m very proud to co-lead this trip with Mark Kelley, perhaps Alaska’s leading photographer. Not only is this Juneau resident talented, with numerous calendars and coffee table books to his credit, he’s a genuinely nice and helpful guy. He published a coffee table book on Glacier Bay some years ago and is now updating it, as much as changed in the park with the retreat of so many glaciers due to climate change. He led a Glacier Bay trip in 2015 nearly identical to this one, and an icefall photo he took in John Hopkins Inlet has won numerous awards, including an Alaska Airlines photo contest, cover of the Alaska magazine calendar, and some prestigious European contests. Click here and you’ll see why it’s such a big winner. (Of course we can’t guarantee falling ice, kayaks and seals all in one photo, but you never know!)
The above itinerary will vary slightly depending on weather, tides and animal behaviors. This is my seventh trip to one of my favorite regions in the world. There’s been a lot of interest, so don’t delay in signing up as I think the trip will fill quickly. The company I work with, Dolphin Charters, is one of the few to get a permit to explore all of Glacier Bay, as they’re “grandfathered” in from many years of doing trips here. Also, the cost is less than that offered by some other companies, but quality is not compromised in any way.