Article Summary: Glacier Bay National Park Facts
Glacier Bay National Park Facts! In this article, More Than Just Parks provides you with 11 amazing facts about one of America’s most magnificent national parks.
More Than Just Parks is your one-stop-shop when it comes to learning everything you’ll need to know about America’s national parks. We’ve got expert guides, beautiful photos, helpful tips, breathtaking films and so much more.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind some of these natural wonders. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing some of the incredible stories about these beautiful places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
More Than Just Parks takes a deeper dive with its national park facts. We’ve done our homework so that you’ll get more than you bargained for.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Glacier Bay National Park Facts
Glacier Bay National Park Facts
- Basic Facts About Glacier Bay National Park
- Top 5 Glacier Bay National Park Facts
- Top 11 Glacier Bay National Park Facts
- 6. A Botanist Was Responsible For The Park’s Preservation
- 7. Glacier Bay Is An International Peace Park
- 8. Glacier Bay Water Is Blue
- 9. The Park Includes The Highest Coastal Mountains In The World
- 10. Glacier Bay National Park Is Larger Than Rhode Island
- 11. There’s 11% Less Ice In Glacier Bay Today Than In The 1950s
- Why Trust Us About Glacier Bay National Park?
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of Glacier Bay National Park
- List Of Glacier Bay National Park Facts
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Basic Facts About Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park is a national park located in the state of Alaska. The park covers an area of 3,223,383 acres and is known for its stunning views, deep canyons, and diverse plant and animal life.
The park is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including over 1,700 species of plants and a variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals. It is also home to a number of unique geological features, including glaciers, mountains, and rivers.
In addition to its natural beauty, Glacier Bay National Park offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, rock climbing, and photography. The park also offers guided tours and ranger-led programs, which provide visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the park’s natural and cultural history.
Glacier Bay National Park is a popular destination for visitors, with millions of people visiting each year to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
Here Are Some Of The Basic Facts:
- Location: Alaska
- Acreage: Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rain forest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas.
- Visitation: Glacier Bay had a total of 89,768 visitors in 2021.
- Highest Elevation: The coastal mountains of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, topped by the 15,300 foot Mt. Fairweather represent the park’s highest elevation.
- Lowest Elevation: The lowest elevation found in Glacier Bay is 0 feet at the Pacific Ocean.
- Average annual precipitation: Bartlett Cove receives about 70 inches of precipitation annually.
- When Did It Become A National Park? It was proclaimed a national monument in 1925, established as a national park and preserve in 1980 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
Glacier Bay National Park Facts
Top 5 Glacier Bay National Park Facts
1. There Are Over 1,000 Glaciers at Glacier Bay
Let’s begin our fascinating list of Glacier Bay National Park Facts with the one which often attracts the most attention.
There’s a reason that this park is named “Glacier Bay” and that reason is that there are over 1,000 glaciers.
The fjord which comprises the majority of the park was covered by the 40-mile-wide Grand Pacific Glacier as recently as 200 years ago.
As the original glacier continued to retreat over the years, it would eventually divide into smaller glaciers.
These glaciers routinely break off into the water with such force that some of them cannot be safely approached from a certain distance.
2. A Scottish Mountaineer Discovered Glacier Bay National Park
Another one of the amazing Glacier Bay National Parks is that a Scottish Mountaineer by the name of John Muir is credited to be the one who discovered the park when he first went to the bay in 1879.
John Muir is perhaps best known as the “Father of the National Parks.” Muir’s advocacy helped create several national parks, including Sequoia (1890), Mount Rainier (1899) and Grand Canyon (1908).
He wrote that only the federal government could save our country’s land for future generations to enjoy, which is an idea that led to the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.
John Muir was a prominent naturalist and conservationist in the United States.
He is known for his role in the creation of the National Park System and the establishment of the Sierra Club, an environmental organization focused on protecting wilderness areas.
Muir also played a key role in raising awareness about the importance of preserving natural spaces and educating the public about their value.
The Muir Woods National Monument in California is named in his honor.
3. Glacier Bay Is A UNESCO World Heritage Site
For me, one of the most impressive of the Glacier Bay National Park Facts is that, as noted above, Glacier Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1993, the United Nations added Glacier Bay and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia to the first bi-national designation to be recognized as an international World Heritage site (it previously included Kluane National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park).
Together, these four units make up 24.3 million acres of protected area, one of the largest internationally protected ecosystems on Earth.
4. Glacier Bay Has Over 40 Different Species Of Mammals
Now here’s another of those amazing Glacier Bay National Park Facts. Visitors to the park can see over 40 different species of mammals.
As the National Park Service notes, when spotting wildlife on the water, use just your eyes first. Watch for any movement or unusual shapes on the surface, then use binoculars to take a closer look.
Patience and determination are often rewarded and binoculars help magnify the experience.
Now here’s an interesting fact about the sea otters at Glacier Bay. Their population has rebounded from near extinction to almost 9,000 in the last 20 years.
5. The Park Has Approximately 300 Species Of Plants
Another of the lesser known yet fascinating Glacier Bay National Park Facts is that the park includes five major ecosystems featuring wet tundra, coastal forest, alpine tundra, glaciers, and meadows.
The park features 300 species of plants.
Some of the common plants found in Glacier Bay National Park include: Chocolate Lily, Devil’s Club, Indian Paintbrush, Nagoon Berry, Lupine, and Sitka Spruce.
Top 11 Glacier Bay National Park Facts
6. A Botanist Was Responsible For The Park’s Preservation
If you’re interested in origin stories then one of the more interesting Glacier Bay National Park Facts is that an American botanist was responsible for the park’s preservation.
William Skinner Cooper was a botanist at the University of Minnesota who studied plant succession in Glacier Bay, Alaska.
He recognized the area as an ideal location to observe how plants colonize newly exposed ground following glacial retreat.
Cooper led a campaign in the 1920s to lobby President Calvin Coolidge to protect the area of Glacier Bay, and over the course of 50 years, he returned several more times to document the development in the vegetation plots he established on his first visit.
He was a prominent member of the Ecological Society of America, and understood the importance of preserving this unique area for scientific study and for future generations.
7. Glacier Bay Is An International Peace Park
Just when you thought we couldn’t come up with any more unbelievable Glacier Bay National Park Facts we’ve come up with another one. Glacier Bay Is An International Peace Park.
Now you might be asking: Just what exactly is an International Peace Park?
A “Park for Peace” is a special designation that may be applied to any of the three types of Transboundary Conservation Areas, and is dedicated to the promotion, celebration and/or commemoration of peace and cooperation (IUCN, 2015).
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Parks for Peace can serve several purposes. One of these purposes is to celebrate the endurance of peace and the commemoration of peace in a region.
8. Glacier Bay Water Is Blue
While I hope that these Glacier Bay National Park Facts don’t turn you blue, this next one just might! Believe it or not, Glacier Bay National Park water is blue.
Now I’m not just going to state this fact without telling you why. It has to do with the ice.
Blue is the color of pure glacier ice, compact with few air bubbles, since the air is squeezed out from the weight of the ice. Pure ice has the properties of minerals.
Like sapphires, glacial ice reflects the blue colors of the light spectrum, so beautiful blue color reaches our eyes.
9. The Park Includes The Highest Coastal Mountains In The World
Here’s another one of those amazing Glacier Bay National Park Facts. The Fairweather Range is the highest coastal mountains in the world at 15,000 feet.
It’s also worth noting that these mountains are among the least visited mountains of their elevation in North America.
If you’re looking to do some climbing then be forewarned that mountaineering is made especially challenging by a stormy weather pattern that includes over 100 inches of precipitation per year.
Unpredictable storms frequently cause delays when transporting to a base camp and often forces “holding up” for multiple days or abandoned attempts. Many climbs take as long as one month to accomplish. (Source: NPS)
The Fairweather Range Is In Earthquake Country
According to the National Park Service, the Fairweather-Queen Charlotte Fault is a major fault boundary which cuts across Glacier Bay’s western edge.
The Fairweather Range in Glacier Bay National Park was formed by the collision of the Pacific Plate and Yakutat Microplate.
The plates have been moving northwest along a fault boundary for over 50 million years, pushing the land upward to form mountain chains and forcing others downward to be melted.
Molten rock then volcanically emerges and cools, creating a complex geological landscape in the area.
This process is still ongoing, as evidenced by frequent earthquakes.
10. Glacier Bay National Park Is Larger Than Rhode Island
Alaska is the largest state by area in the United States. While this is a fact which you are likely aware of did you know that Glacier Bay Is Larger Than The State Of Rhode Island?
The Glacier Bay National Park covers 3,223,384 acres of land. Rhode Island is 776,900 acres. Glacier Bay is 3.3 million acres. That’s equivalent to approximately four Rhode Islands!
Despite its big size, 27% of this large tract of land is covered by the glaciers, which translates to 2055 square miles.
11. There’s 11% Less Ice In Glacier Bay Today Than In The 1950s
Among the most amazing of the Glacier Bay National Parks Facts are the impacts which a changing climate is having on the glaciers.
Glacier Bay is a product of the Little Ice Age, a period of glacial advance that reached its maximum extent around 1750. Since then, the glacier that filled the bay has retreated 65 miles.
Today, 95% of Alaska’s glaciers are thinning, stagnating, or retreating, and the rate of thinning is increasing. Research shows that there is 11% less glacial ice in Glacier Bay than in the 1950s.
This is an indication of the ongoing impact of climate change on the region.
Why Trust Us About Glacier Bay National Park?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of Glacier Bay National Park
List Of Glacier Bay National Park Facts
- There Are Over 1,000 Glaciers
- A Scottish Mountaineer Discovered Glacier The Park
- Glacier Bay Is A United Nations World Heritage Site
- Glacier Bay Has Over 40 Different Species Of Mammals
- The Park Has Approximately 300 Species Of Plants
- A Botanist Was Responsible For The Park’s Preservation
- Glacier Bay Is An International Peace Park
- Glacier Bay Water Is Blue
- The Park Includes The Highest Coastal Mountains In The World
- Glacier Bay Is Larger Than Rhode Island
- There’s 11% Less Ice In Glacier Bay Today Than In The 1950s
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested joining the adventure, sign up below!
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