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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, AK  09/02/06 (Day 130)
Fly Like an Eagle

After the Alaska Marine Highway ferry MV Taku deposits us safely in Haines, we head immediately for Skagway Air for a quick flight to Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. And not a moment too soon. Glacier Bay Lodge and tours of Glacier Bay itself are literally about to close until next May.

As we, and a woman from Juneau, wait to climb into a tiny five-seater Piper Cherokee Six with our pilot, Rob, we notice that there are bald eagles hanging out in the flats of the Chilkat River just beyond the edge of the runway. Look at that! Once airborne, however, it’s the ice that captures our attention as Rob takes us dipping, diving and soaring above (barely) the Rainbow Glacier, the Davidson Glacier, the Davidson Icefield and many other massive, living, breathing chunks of super-compacted snow.  

Our joy ride comes to a premature end, however, when the woman from Skagway starts to turn green. She valiantly refrains from hurling, but it’s clear that we need to get her on solid ground. Now.

As we check into the Glacier Bay Lodge the only place to stay inside Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve other than camping, we are amazed, once again, at how so many of the hotels and lodges inside US parks system go beyond mere accommodation to provide a unique style and atmosphere that’s really reflective of the parks they’re located in.

Glacier Bay Lodge is no exception with its complex of buildings with contemporary angles and dark wood connected by wide, inviting wooden walkways all nestled naturally in the lush, mossy forest that surrounds the lodge.

The rooms have new carpet and cozy flannel duvet covers plus huge windows (splurge on a view room) from which we can see the sandy shore of the bay, small fishing boats and the dramatic peaks and moody sky of Alaska.

The National Parks Service Visitor Center for Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is located right in the lodge on the second floor of the lobby (try not to get sucked into a comfy seat by the massive ground floor fireplace on your way up) and there’s a lovely one mile Forest Loop Trail just off the main building. It’s the perfect way to stretch your legs after an eventful flight in and get your bearings as you wander along the mostly boardwalk trail through vegetation so mossy and green and other-worldly that we half expected  to encounter a talking rabbit in a top hat coming down the trail toward us.

There’s also an equally enchanted primitive (but free) campground along the far end of the  trail and it was totally empty when we were there so you could have had the Mad Hatter to yourself.



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