General Information for Guided Backcountry Trips

GBSK offers Guided Trips in Glacier Bay National Park with a variety of itineraries from 4 to 8 days. Two of the trips that we offer have itineraries well suited for a Citizen Science trip. Our trips are tailored for independent, experienced campers willing to outfit their own trip but who wish to have the added benefit of an experienced naturalist and guide at less cost than a fully outfitted trip.

Our group size for each trip is limited to 8 guests maximum in order to lessen our impact on Glacier Bay’s environment, wildlife and other backcountry visitors.


Guided Trips

Our Guided Trips provide you with an experienced Glacier Bay kayak guide.  Our guides are excellent naturalists with a passion for sharing their knowledge of this special place. They will provide you with information about the flora and fauna, an understanding of glaciology and how climate change is affecting Glacier Bay National Park.

You will also benefit from their expertise with local weather patterns, familiarity of the coastline, route planning, safety practices in bear country, Glacier Bay’s cultural and natural history, and assistance in good decision making for the group when challenges arise.

Hump back whale, Glacier Bay Alaska, Glacier Bay Sea kayaks, Glacier Bay National Park

Citizen Science Trips

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve has been set aside for science and our Citizen Science trips are designed to collect valuable data to contribute to ongoing research in the park. We offer two four day trips that will primarily focus on observing and photographing either humpback whale or bird populations. Humpback whale images will be uploaded to the Happy Whale website and the birds that we identify will be added to Audubon Alaska’s e-bird list for migratory birds. The trip dates are timed to visit areas in Glacier Bay with high or diverse populations of these species.

Researchers and scientists have welcomed the involvement of Community Based Monitoring (CBM) projects and citizen science tourism to assist in the collection of usable data. These research trips give you the opportunity to be more than a visitor to Glacier Bay and to gain a deeper understanding of the wildlife and habitats of this unique park.

How is a Citizen Science trip different from a Guided Trip?

The Citizen Science trips involve less paddle time with no set destination to reach. Collecting data requires patience and we will be in one area for extended periods of time while making our observations. Because these trips focus on research, we feel that this itinerary is best suited for a custom party of 4 to 6 people rather than a mixed group. If you have a family or group of friends that would like to contribute to Glacier Bay’s research, this may be the trip for you!

The most appropriate trips that would lend themselves to citizen science are the Secluded Beardslee Islands trip and the Wildlife Quest trip.

What is Included in the Trip Price

  • We will provide tarps/shelters, along with safety equipment that includes First Aid kits, marine radio, satellite radio, and an In-Reach texting device.
  • Group gear that includes a large group tarp, smaller tarps to cover gear, a two burner Coleman propane stove and propane fuel .
  • Kayaking equipment includes fiberglass sea touring double kayaks, Extrasport PFDs, Aquabound paddles, paddle floats, spray skirts, pumps and sponges. See our Equipment & Rates page for more information about our kayaks and equipment. For safety reasons, all guests will be in double kayaks.
  • We will outfit you with high quality Grunden’s mid-weight rubberized rain gear, which includes a hooded jacket and bib overalls, and calf high rubber boots.
  • Our guide(s) will provide route and camp site advice and will serve as your expedition naturalist. Be advised that your guide may make changes to the itinerary due to weather, safety, wildlife or other considerations. Guides will be responsible for their own food.
  • Boat transfers for trips requiring one way or round trip camper transport.

What You Need to Provide

As with a multi day independent kayak rental, you will be required to supply all your own personal clothing & gear, camping equipment (dry bags, tents, sleeping bag & pad, cooking and eating utensils) and you will handle your own food provisioning and cooking. Note that we will bring a two burner Coleman propane stove and propane fuel that you can use. We do not rent any camping equipment or dry bags. Binoculars a must!

Please review our Gear List and other packing pages for helpful information on items to bring. You will need to attend the NPS Backcountry Camper Orientation and they will provide free bear canisters for your food and toiletry items.

  • Trip Insurance – we encourage you to purchase trip insurance to cover your trip deposit and any other travel costs in case you need to cancel.
  • Thermal Protection: Guests are responsible for providing their own. Dry suits are available to rent from Kayak Academy.
  • Lodging – We can assist in making reservations for you at Glacier Bay Lodge the night prior to your departure. We recommend staying in Bartlett Cove either at Glacier Bay Lodge or the NPS campground on the night prior to trip departure. Consider staying an extra day or two at the end of your trip to explore Gustavus. See our Accommodations page for a list of local lodgings.
  • Airfare – review our Getting Here page for transportation options to Gustavus.
  • Guide Gratuities

How to Make a Reservation

  1. Our office is closed during the winter months until March each year. Please e-mail us to determine trip availability. Once we open you may email or phone us at (907) 697-2257. Specify the trip you wish to reserve and the number of people in your group. We can pencil in a reservation for you which guarantees your space while you make all of your final travel arrangements.
  2. Make your airline reservations to Juneau. Decide on your airplane or ferry itinerary between Juneau and Gustavus. See our Getting Here page. We can make your air taxi reservations. Please see the air taxi departure times in the drop down box on the reservation form for the scheduled flight times between Juneau and Gustavus. You may email us for current scheduled departure times and fares for flights between Haines and Gustavus or Skagway and Gustavus.
  3. Go to the Guided Backcountry Trip Reservation Form. Fill it out completely. Be sure to include the names and ages of everyone in your party and any additional reservations you’d like us to make for air taxi flights or Glacier Bay Lodge rooms. Please be sure to include sizes for rain gear and boots. Dry Suits are available for rent at an additional charge.
  4. To confirm your reservation, we ask for a 50% deposit plus full payment for any air taxi, and lodge room reservations you’d like us to make. The remaining amount due is payable a week prior to departure. After submitting the reservation form, please call us with your visa or master card payment information. If you’re making this reservation in our off-season, we will secure all your reservations and contact you when our office re-opens in March for credit card payment information. We do not take credit card information on the reservation form for security reasons. Following receipt of your payment, you will receive by e-mail a friendly confirmation letter with a receipt, outline of your itinerary, and other helpful information.

Cancellation Policy

Reservations canceled 60 or more days in advance are subject to a 10% cancellation penalty. Reservations canceled less than 60 days in advance are subject to a 100% penalty.