By The Numbers: Glacier Bay Park and Preserve
Though its name inspires thoughts of massive rivers of ice, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is much, much more than glaciers. With its borders you'll find some of the country's tallest mountains, tangles of temperate rain forest that harbor brown and black bears, and rich waters that attract both birds and whales.
Here's a glimpse of some of the park's significant numbers:
Acreage within Glacier Bay's borders. For comparison's sake, Yellowstone National Park is 2.2 million acres, and Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve spans nearly 13.2 million acres.
Total acreage in the park officially designated as wilderness.
Elevation, in feet, above sea level of Mount Fairweather, the park's highest point. Though 16 peaks elsewhere in Alaska are taller, Mount Fairweather rises higher than any other mountain in the 49 other states, according to the editors at Alaska Geographic. "In Europe, only Mount Blanc is taller and that by only 471 feet," they add.
Depth, in feet, of some of the glaciers covering the park's landscape during the height of the Little Ice Age
Years since the last ice age, the Little Ice Age, started in the park. Geologists say the park's landscape has undergone major glaciations four times.
Population of sea otters in the waters of Glacier Bay. The otters had been wiped out of the park's waters by trappers back in the 19th century, but a recovery effort launched in the 1960s has led to a very healthy number of sea otters in the park.
Depth in feet of the deepest fjord basin in the park.
Miles of coastline in the park.
Number of individual humpback whales counted in the waters of Icy Strait and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve from 1974 through 2010.
Estimated number of bird species in the park.
Age, in years, of the ice most often seen calving from the park's glaciers. In other words, most of the ice you see breaking off started out as snow that fell about the time the War of 1812 was beginning.
Length, in miles, of the park's western coast that faces the Pacific Ocean.
By 1916, Grand Pacific Glacier had retreated 60 miles from today's mouth of Glacier Bay to today's Tarr Inlet.
Age, in years, of oldest tracked humpback whale in the park, No. 516, aka 'Garfunkle."
When John Muir mades his first visit to the area, traveling by canoe with the Rev. S. Hall Young and guided by four Tlingit Indians, the glaciers had retreated 30 miles up from the mouth of Glacier Bay.
Height, in vertical feet, of the park's most extreme tidal fluctuations.
Estimated percentage of the world's population of Kittlitz's murrelets thought to reside in Glacier Bay.
Number of "tidewater" glaciers that reach down to sea level. In 1972, there were 16 that held that distinction, according to Alaska Geographic.
What we know today as Glacier Bay was just a 5-mile indentation off Icy Strait in 1794 when Cap. George Vancouver sailed by. At that time, the Grand Pacific Glacier ran all the way south through Glacier Bay to present-day Bartlett Cove, where park headquarters and
the Glacier Bay Lodge are located.
Bear species in the park; both brown (aka grizzlies) and black bears can be found here.
Just one feline species exists naturally in the park, the lynx.
Amount of the park's 3.2 million acres made up of marine waters.