Day 130 of our Journey

After the Alaska Marine Highway ferry MV Taku deposited us safely in Haines, Alaska we immediately headed for the Skagway Air office to book 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 were about to close for the season.

Skagway Air was our ride from Haines to Gustavus, Alaska which is the town outside of Glacier Bay and is only connected to the outside world via plane or boat.

As we, and a woman from Juneau, waited to climb into a tiny five-seater Piper Cherokee Six with our pilot, Rob, we noticed that there were bald eagles hanging out in the flats of the Chilkat River just beyond the edge of the runway. Once airborne, however, it was the ice that captured our attention as Rob took us dipping, diving, and soaring above Rainbow Glacier, Davidson Glacier, the Davidson Icefield, and many other massive chunks of super-compacted snow.

Flying out of Haines, Alaska on our way to Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

Our pilot, Rob, got the green light to give us a good flight and he did just that–expertly swooping over and zooming around every cloud cloaked peak, glacier, valley, and waterfall he could find.

Peaks of the Chilkat Range emerge from the clouds above Haines.

Rainbow Glacier, a hanging glacier above Haines.

Davidson Glacier, outside Haines, Alaska.

Davidson Glacier and the Davidson Icefield.

Davidson Glacier and the Davidson Icefield.

The Davidson Icefield and the Chilkat Mountains.

The Chilkat Range Icefield.

High above the Chilkat range.

Above the Chilkat range, looking across the Chilkat Inlet

A hanging glacier in the Chilkat range.

Our joyride came to a premature end, however, when the woman from Juneau started to turn green. She valiantly refrained from hurling, but it was clear that we needed to get her on solid ground. Now.

Flying into Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

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

The Forest Loop Trail in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Alaska.

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

Things get a bit green in the temperate rainforest.

The National Parks Service Visitor Center for Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, whcih was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site along with three other parks in 1979, 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).

The entrance to the beautiful and free campground in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

There’s a lovely 1 mile (1.5 km) Forest Loop Trail just off the main building which is 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.

Bracket fungus in the temperate rainforest of Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

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.

During the short drive between Gustavus airport and the Glacier Bay Lodge we passed town’s lone gas station which was still using pumps from the 1930s.

Here’s more about travel to US National Parks & Monuments

Here’s more about travel in the USA


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