Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Gustavus, Alaska, is a 3.3-million acre rugged and dynamic marine and coastal biosphere that was 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, and finally Glacier Bay National Park and 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 and 500 years ago. The most recent retreat left glacial gravel 2,000 feet up the sides of the mountains. The bulk of the coastal peaks of the Saint Elias Mountains and the Fairweather Range cradle the great fjord. It is a land "reborn" and "rebounding" as it is exposed to the elements by the retreating ice.
Top: Viewed from the ship while passing about a two-mile stretch of beach, six Coastal Brown Bears, including a sow and twin sub-adults (left), lift rocks and scour the tideline for food; the single bears staying very alert of the sow.
Second Row: "Whale 68," a Humpback whale struck by a cruise ship, was salvaged by Park staff and allowed to decompose. The bones were then collected and reassembled as a full skeleton for an outstanding educational display. Beautiful and characteristic glacier-carved striated marine-rock formations appear along the coastline.
Panorama 1: The Grand Pacific Glacier is a tidewater glacier at the head of Glacier Bay. It is 25 miles long, two miles wide, about 150 feet tall, and 60 feet underwater at the terminus. It runs from Alaska far into British Columbia.
Panorama 2: A few of the 10- 12,000-foot grand spires of the Fairweather Range are silhouetted at sunset and are the ultimate barrier against the dangerous and violent storms that swing through the Gulf of Alaska.
Panorama 3: The massive tidewater Margerie Glacier spills into the fjord and measures 21 miles long and 350 feet thick. It forms below the northeastern face of Mt. Quincy Adams at 13,650 feet.
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a jewel of the U.S. Park System and worth experiencing!
All images © Dave Parkhurst www.TheAlaskaCollection.com