4 Must see Glaciers in Alaska
On the Glacier Trail in Alaska
Views of snow capped mountains playing hide and seek with the fluffy white clouds, is a visual treat that invites you into beautiful Alaska. As beautiful as Alaska may be, keep in mind the best time to visit the corner state of the USA is from mid-May to Mid September, when tours to most of its attractions are functional.
My arrival in Anchorage was celebrated by the rain gods by showering me with rain and hail! It was quite the ‘damper’ on the situation, but I decided to power through my short visit there.
How to get around
The train journey offers the most scenic route from Anchorage to Seward, but it operates only from mid May to mid September.
Check out the schedule for the time of the year that you will be in Anchorage. Get an understanding of the transport that is available to you at the time of your visit, and the costs involved. The train can be a little pricey, but the views are worth the dent in your wallet!
The bus is slightly cheaper than the train, at $49.95, but the views are not as spectacular. You can check the schedule at:
You can also check the following link for Alaska Coach, for an alternative to Seward Bus lines. Be mindful of the Summer & Winter schedules of all travel options in Alaska. In winter, there are less options for travel in Alaska.
My personal favourite way to travel across Alaska is by car, as the public transport system is not amazing. Self driving is the best option for you if you want to explore as much as you can, and at your own convenience. You can rent a car from Anchorage airport.
4 Glaciers to visit in Alaska
1. How to navigate at Exit Glacier
Hike to the Exit Glacier if you want to be a stone’s throw away from an active glacier. There are two view points to the Exit Glacier, the first being ‘Glacier View’, which is further away from the glacier, but offers a good view of it. The ‘Exit Glacier Overlook’, gets you as close as you possibly can to the glacier, so I would recommend you hike all the way there, and not give up after getting to the ‘Galcier View’ viewpoint.
Do check the current conditions at the Exit Glacier area before you start off on your hike.
2. Cruise the Kenai Fjords National Park
The sole purpose of my trip to Alaska was to take a cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park to see the magnificent tidewater glacier. My cruise with Major Marine Tours was a rather eventful one. They picked me up from Anchorage, and drove me to Seward from where we got on their catamaran and set sail into the open waters of Alaska. We spotted the bald eagle, sea otters, sea lions and even raced a school of orcas for about 5 mins. The orcas were in a playful mood according to the ranger who was guiding us through the cruise. They were swimming beside us, close to the surface of the water.
It wasn’t the best day to be out in the open waters, it was raining on and off, and there was a storm brewing in the Gulf of Alaska, which meant that the water got quite rough during our journey towards the glacier.
Our little catamaran cruised through ‘tsunami-like’ waves (it seemed that big to me, I had front row seats), and my sea sickness was at its all time high!
I took two tablets of Bonine instead of the recommended one. (It seems silly now, but I was scared for my life, and ready to puke out everything I had ever eaten)
After a rough 20 minutes of praying for my life, we finally reached the calm waters near the glacier.
The silence around the glacier was a stark difference from the noise of the choppy waters we left behind just minutes ago. The glacier in all its grandeur grabs your full attention, and leaves you awestruck. It gives you a glimpse of what the ice age must have been like. In the silence that surrounds the glacier, you can even hear the ice breaking. It makes you rethink your carbon footprint, especially when you see chunks of ice floating around you, having broken off the glacier.
Why do glaciers look blue?
Water absorbs other colours of the spectrum and reflects blue. Also, water is intrinsically blue, and with increasing thickness of the ice, the colour deepens.
3. How to get to Portgage Glacier
If you are short on time, or a little tight on the budget, but still want to see a glacier in Alaska. Take a short one hour cruise to Portgage Glacier. Boats leave multiple times a day during the summer months for the glacier, so you can take a cruise at your convenience.
The Portage glacier cruise costs only $39/adult & $19/child, if you have your own transportation to Portgage Lake, otherwise, the rates for the tour will go up as it will include pick & drop from Anchorage.
The Portgage glacier was once a roadside glacier, that you could admire without having to get on a boat. It apparently recedes one foot a day, and is no longer visible from the road. People go all the way to Portgage glacier in the hopes of watching large chunks of the glacier fall in to the lake in front of them, but again, I am forced to rethink my carbon footprint.
4. Hike to Byron Glacier
Hiking to Byron Glacier will make for a great family outing, as kids will enjoy the fairly easy path to the glacier. The trail for the most part is along Byron creek, and although rocky, is a fairly flat trail till the glacier. The beautiful scenery along the trail should be reason enough for you to embark on this hike, but do remember to bring your rain gear, as weather can be unpredictable in this area.