Exploring Alaska's Glacier Bay

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 23-29, 1997
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Exploring Alaska's Glacier Bay
Question: I am looking for an excursion to Alaska this summer. Two or three friends and I are looking for something along the lines of hiking, sea kayaking, and some mountain or rock climbing. What are the best resources for lodging and recreation information in Southeast Alaska?

Justin Farrar
Bellingham, WA

Adventure Adviser: What a great part of Alaska to explore! The highlights in the Southeast include — but aren't limited to, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, the majestic cliffs of Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness, and the amazing collection of totems in Ketchikan.

In the 3.3-million-acre Glacier Bay National Park you can canoe, sea kayak, sight-see, fish, hike, backpack, and camp. To access the park without using an outfitter from the Lower 48, you'll probably need to start in the town of Gustavus, where you'll find kayak rentals as well as a number of hiking and camping guides.

The only catch is you'll need to reserve a spot on one of the many boat or plane charters that access Gustavus. For more information on the park or Gustavus, call 907-697-2230. For general information about lodging, etc., call the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council at 800-327-9372, or in Seattle call 206-386-5620.

The more luxurious route would be to go through an outfitter. With one phone call your entire trip is planned, plus you don't need to worry about equipment, food, lodging, or anything. It's all in the package deal.

REI Adventures offers an eight-day Glacier Bay trip where you'll spend the majority of your time peeking at the massive glaciers from a kayak, but you'll also have time for hiking and wildlife viewing as well as a stint at a country bed-and-breakfast in Gustavus. The trip costs $1,890 for REI members, $1,990 for non-members. Call 800-622-2236 for details.

Other Alaska companies that may have a southeast itinerary include: Alaska Wilderness Journeys (800-349-0064), Sea Quest Expeditions (360-378-5767), and Alaska Denali Guiding Inc. (907-733-2649).

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