Glacier Bay National Park: Johns Hopkins Glacier

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Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve covers 3.2 million acres of marine ecosystems in Southeast Alaska, including the Johns Hopkins Glacier. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the area around Glacier Bay a national monument under the Antiquities Act on February 26, 1925. President Jimmy Carter expanded it in 1978.

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act enlarged the national monument again on December 2, 1980 and created the National Park and Preserve. Of the 3.2 million acres, 2.7 million are a designated wilderness area. A portion of the Preserve allows for commercial fishing and hunting and subsistence uses for the Tlingit community.

Glacier Bay became part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Our cruise ship entered the bay at Icy Strait. In 1794, the Vancouver Expedition attempted to enter at this point and found the channel entirely covered by one large tidewater glacier. In 1879, John Muir found the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay.

Two rangers transferred onto the NCL Jewel from a National Park Service boat at the mouth of the bay. They narrated our day-long journey up the bay past several tidewater glaciers. At times, we could see the Ruby Princess keeping pace with us, but for most of the day we sailed alone through the gorgeous icy scenery.

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Glacier Bay National Park protects over one thousand glaciers. Of those, seven are tidewater glaciers. Four of the tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into the bay.

We spent time near four of the tidewater glaciers: Lamplugh Glacier, Johns Hopkins Glacier, Margerie Glacier and Grand Pacific Glacier. We had a clear sunny day and enjoyed viewing the scenery from the top deck while drinking hot chocolate. After Lamplugh Glacier, we sailed around Jaw Point into the Johns Hopkins Inlet.

The view into the inlet is stunning. The glacier descends through a valley, surrounded by the mountains of the Fairweather Range. Johns Hopkins is one of the few glaciers still advancing. More snow and ice accumulates in the feeder ice fields each year than is lost through calving into the sea.

Glacier Bay Posts


Location: Glacier Bay, Alaska
Designation: National Park and Preserve
Date designated/established: December 2, 1980
Date of my visit: June 4, 2022