Summary : The ultimate Alaska. Spend two days in Glacier Bay National Park, skiff to glaciers, hike in the Tongass National Forest, and learn about Native cultures.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Dedicated Solo Cabins
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Arriving in Juneau, you will be transferred from the airport to a hospitality area. Upon boarding, your crew greets you with champagne and smiles. Set sail for two weeks of scenic channels and secluded wilderness.
Take an early peek outside. Fjord cliffs reach skyward. Floating ice. And deep u-shaped valleys. There’s no abracadabra here. Mother Nature’s magic is real. Cruise past harbor seals and their pups lounging on chunks of ice. Tracy Arm delivers with the cotton-candy blue twin Sawyer Glaciers of its furthest reaches. Tides permitting, your skiff driver knows the ropes and guides you along. It’s a mashup of towering walls, temperamental currents, and the Coastal Mountains. So many waterfalls. Mountain goats show off fancy footwork on the cliffs. Look for them.
Humpbacks beeline it here each season to feed on krill, zooplankton, and herring. Watch for whales feasting in these abundant glacial waters. Hang out and enjoy the show. Cruise past Five Fingers Lighthouse, Alaska’s oldest light station, and The Brothers Islands, where sea lions nap on rocky nobs. Tonight, toast to a whale of a day in Alaska.
Before you do anything, look out the window. From kelp-lined channels to hemlock and spruce forests, every inch of this far northwest corner is worth exploring. And today’s adventures promise to be as big as the water is deep! Seals and sea lions haul out on rocky outcroppings, resting before they disappear in the water to search for food. If the tides are right, head out in the skiff with one of the guides for a closer exploration of the rugged shore, or perhaps, make it all the way to George Island. Whatever you do—wilderness trekking, skiffing, or paddling—your expedition team guides the way.
This crown jewel of America’s national parks covers 3.3 million acres (that’s a tad smaller than the state of Connecticut). Let that sink in. Most visitors see the same sliver of the park as everyone else. Not you. You’re going the furthest and exploring parts that 99% of visitors never go to. And you have two days to do it. Get started! Taylor Bay sea stacks and rocky shores make for good adventure. Or hike the outwash field of glaciers winding down the Fairweather Mountain Range. The cool breeze off the nearby snow and icefields is energizing. If you motor over to Dundas Bay, keep your eye out for bears, humpbacks, and if you’re lucky, a wolf sighting. Kayak the bay. Bushwhack into the forest. Discover Glacier Bay outback.
Your camera’s memory card needs plenty of room. South Marble Island is abuzz with activity. Rare sea birds, black oystercatchers, and orange-beaked tufted puffins can’t be missed. A colony of raucous sea lions adds to the hubbub. They add a distinct aroma to the air, too. Tucking into silent Tidal Inlet—the stomping grounds for bears, wolves, mountain goats, eagles—the backdrop is spectacular. At the end of the western-most arm of the bay sits Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. And possible views of glacial calving. Take it all in on deck.
Find a perch on the bridge with your captain, or with your guides on the bow, and watch for whales and other creatures before tucking into Port Frederick or another inlet in the Tongass National Forest. Any spot’s a good one to pull over and stretch your legs. Hike, paddle, or skiff your way through this remote corner with bears on the shoreline, seals bobbing on the surface, and welcoming boughs of moss in the trees. It’s all yours to explore. Back on the boat, there's a treat in store—the Farewell Dinner and some special memories from your crew.
You have a choice in how to spend your day off the boat. Accompanied by a local expert (and plenty of snacks), the West Glacier Trail excursion takes you through dense temperate rainforest with massive views overlooking Mendenhall Glacier and the surrounding coastal mountain range. Or, opt for a more relaxed pace visiting Juneau highlights on your own. An included tramway ticket provides a ride up the Mt. Roberts Tram, where views unfold as you ascend 1,800 feet through the forest. At the top, explore the trails and Nature Center; back at the bottom, explore Alaska’s heritage at the Alaska State Museum. Both options also include a lunch voucher for a local restaurant. Complimentary laundry service is provided today.
Jutting off Stephens Passage with two deep, glacially carved fjords, this designated wilderness area contains over 600,000 acres. So your explorations today are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Literally. Cruise past chunks and chunks of floating ice (there’s far more beneath the surface than the eye can see). It’s a harbor seal’s delight lazing away the day atop a floating bergie. In classic fjord form, the end of the arm doesn’t disappoint with the blue face of a stories high glacier. If conditions are right, skiffs are the ticket to getting in close.
Morning stretches on-deck jump start the day. Humpback whales are frequent visitors of this Southeast passage. A misty spout is a sure sign they’re in the neighborhood. Your captain navigates Stephens Passage to Port Houghton. And you’re in for a boot-sucking, paddle-smacking day of adventure with your guide team. The routes are all picked out. Make your choice and make your move. Slip off the kayak launch and take it slow, spotting sea stars and shore birds. Hard chargers take a long wild paddle to the salt chuck at the back of the inlet. Or, hike into the Tongass. It’s a landscape of hanging waterfalls and shades of green.
When you come this far, you might as well go all in. This is way back backcountry of Alaska's wilderness. Glacial landscapes marked by moraines, muskegs, and mud. In this playground, it’s all an option today. Kayak and skiff in water almost clear as glass. The mirror image of fjord walls plays on the surface. Hike through the outwash of Baird Glacier, or keep it green on an interpretive walk through a grassy meadow into the forest. Later, the ship winds into the Wrangell Narrows. Abundant bright red and green navigation lights guide the way. It’s “Christmas Tree Lane,” of course.
Native culture and wildlife have gotten along just fine for centuries. Wrangell is one of the oldest towns in Alaska. It’s also the only one ever governed by four nations. The Tlingit culture has deep roots here. Local islanders come aboard this morning with a presentation that brings their stories and legends to life. Venture into town for a view of recently carved totem poles at Kiksetti Totem Park. See how many totems you can pick out on each pole. Step inside famed Chief Shakes Tribal House. Can you feel the history in this historic community house?
Wildlife abounds. Black bears, mink, eagles. In Behm Canal, it’s all remote waterways and isolated Tongass National Forest coves, streams, and bays. On Cleveland Peninsula, your expedition team leads a low-elevation hike near clear, rushing streams. Good opportunities for enticing forested shots of Southeast. In the water orca, porpoises, seals, and otters go about their business. Go about yours on a guided paddle in tiny deserted waterways that feed into Behm Canal.
The beauty. The peace. The sense of place you feel. Misty Fjords National Monument represents nearly every ecosystem found in Southeast Alaska, and that alone is a lot to consider. Glacial valleys filled with seawater. Sheer 3,000-foot cliffs. Seabirds, brown and black bears, mountain goats, Sitka black-tailed deer, all find safe haven here. Kayak in Walker Cove or Rudyerd Bay and you find it’s just as easy to paddle and go, as it is to sit and float and take it all in. Or skiff to the base of a waterfall for a fjord-released shower. The affectionate nickname “The Yosemite of the North” is deserved. There are places on the planet that completely overcome you. This is one of them. And it’s an amazing wrap to your week. Your captain joins you tonight for a Farewell Dinner. Celebrate and reminisce about your Alaskan journey with a “photo journal” by your crew.
After breakfast this morning, bid adieu to your new pals before you disembark and transfer to the Ketchikan airport.
Due to the nature of the exploration, the itinerary is a guideline and may change in order to maximize wildlife and natural encounters. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary (Ketchikan to Juneau): 8/15/2021
Transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark day; shipboard accommodations; from-the-vessel activities and equipment such as kayaking and stand up paddleboarding; exclusive activities and shore visits; wellness amenities; gear on loan (yoga mats, hiking poles, and a limited supply of rubber boots); entry fees to national parks/preserves; all meals onboard the ship; most alcoholic beverages; non-alcoholic beverages. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Airfare; travel protection (recommended); items of a personal nature; some premium alcoholic beverages; optional gratuities; port taxes and fees; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © UnCruise