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Glacier Bay National Park trip: A guide for explorers

Glaciers, hiking, and history!

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Created by Coach-Net - December 15th 2016

Located in The Last Frontier, aka Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park has a treasure trove of attractions for you to explore on your next trip. From gold mining to hot springs to glacier-spotting, there are some pretty unique experiences that can only be enjoyed by those who are willing to brave an adventure out to this Last Frontier. Get inspired to make the journey with our guide!

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Baranof Warm Springs

The main attractions of the small community of Baranof Warm Springs, Alaska, are… wait for it… the warm springs. The hottest of the nine individual springs reaches temperatures of 120°F! The boardwalk is the main way that people get around the city. The winter in Baranof is so intense that only seasonal, hired caretakers live here, but it’s a gorgeous place to visit in the summer!

Sitka National Historical Park

The original site of a battle between indigenous tribes and Russian traders, this park features a scenic coastal trail dotted with spruce and hemlock trees. You even might spot a few totem poles! The park’s visitor center also offers a variety of activities, and is a great way to learn about Russia's little-known American colonies and about the native peoples who call Alaska home.

Starrigavan Campground

Also located in Sitka, Starrigavan Campground is the perfect place to spend the night after a long day of hiking among the totems. The campground is accessible to Sitka National Historic Park by either boat or plane and offers a variety of activities to pursue on the lakefront, including fishing, kayaking, and hiking. The campground is only $12.00 per night and allows you to reserve a spot in advance on their website. They also have a log cabin available for rental.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

With a splendid view of the glacier of the same name, Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center provides wonderful information about our snowy northern climate. Take in the Juneau Ice Field, a remnant of the last Ice Age, which contains 38 glaciers (Mendenhall is one of these 38). The visitor center also serves as the head of a few trails that branch out into the wilderness. Get ready to see waterfalls and salmon streams up close, and keep your eyes some of Alaska’s diverse wildlife, such as porcupines, black bears, and bald eagles.

Fort Seward Lodge Restaurant and Saloon

Located in Haines, Fort Seward Lodge Restaurant and Saloon is a great place to spend an evening relaxing. The lodge’s bar offers local drinks from Port Chilkoot Distillery and has Alaska Brewery Beer on tap. The Lodge also features a game room, horseshoe pit, and a scenic patio. Pro tip: It might be tempting, but whatever you do, don't ring the bar’s giant bell—you’ll owe the entire restaurant a shot if you do!

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

A testament to the 1897 mania that brought hordes of settlers to Alaska in search of treasure, this Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park is a fun stop for the whole family. The park contains an authentic gold rush saloon that has been converted into a museum as well as a junior ranger activity center for the kids. Pro tip: Make sure to dress in layers. The park is located in between a temperate rainforest and the Yukon Interior, and weather there can be unpredictable.

Red Onion Saloon

A combination restaurant, bar, and brothel museum, the Red Onion Saloon makes for a unique stop on your journey across Alaska. The restaurant has a variety of libations to choose from as well as classic American fare, like as pizza and sandwiches. The brothel museum is full of artifacts from the gold rush days and is rumored to be haunted by a friendly ghost named Lydia. The Red Onion offers a few tours of both the museum and the premises, so you can learn even more about this saloon’s storied past.

White Pass and Yukon Route

A scenic railway known as the Gateway to the Yukon, the White Pass and Yukon Route provides quite the adventure. During your ride, you’ll climb 3,000 feet and pass by rivers, gorges, and waterfalls. The company offers a variety of excursions, including a three-hour trip to the White Pass Summit and a 70-mile trip called the Bennett Scenic Journey. The latter offers a quick break for a hot meal, but whichever you choose to take, you'll be treated to tons of photo opportunities!

Glacier Bay National Park

With more than 3.3 million acres of glaciers, mountains, coastline, rainforest, and fjords, the diverse area of Glacier Bay National Park provides endless opportunities for exploration. Bartlett Cove is the only developed area in the park; here you can check out the visitor center as well as take a hike down the beach trail. The beach itself offers opportunities for kayaking (bring your own or rent one from Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks). You also can expect to see lots of wildlife in the park—visitors have reported sightings of moose, mountain goats, porcupines, seals, and sea lions. You'll easily be able to see why people fall in love with this wild Last Frontier!

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Sure, Alaska is remote, and kind of cold... but it's also incredibly beautiful. The untouched landscape and historic sites evoke a different time all together, when things were simpler. Escape to the wilderness and reconnect with nature however you want; from hot springs to glaciers, there is plenty of beauty to be found.

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