By the Numbers: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.