Planning Details

Important Information For Kayakers

Unlike canoes, kayaks must be put into the water before getting in or out. Therefore, you must have calf length or knee high rubber boots to kayak. (Neoprene whitewater booties are generally considered insufficient). In Glacier Bay’s gray, foggy, frequently rainy climate, you will be very thankful for your rubberized raincoat and pants, fiberfill bags (not down) and ample tarps and waterproof materials. Bring along a supply of plastic Ziploc and garbage bags.

When camping in southeast Alaska, you must use your best “bear country camping techniques.” It is especially important to never store food or cooking gear overnight in boats, or near tents and other gear. Ask the NPS staff about other bear safety advice if you are uncertain. For more information on bear country camping and bear biology you may also look up the Park’s web page on bears.

The use of bear-resistant canisters for food and garbage storage is mandatory. Plan your menus carefully, using convenient, lightweight compact foods to keep the number of canisters you require to a minimum. Canisters may be checked out free of charge at the ranger station when you pick up your backcountry permit. Please refer to our Bear Canisters page for more information.

Awareness of daily tides is necessary for any kayak trip. The National Park Service will provide tide tables so that you can note twice daily the time and height of each tide, and pitch your tents and camp accordingly. Kayaks must be carried (never dragged) every time you come ashore to a location above the high tide line. To obtain a tide table for advance planning, be sure to look at our Tides page, which will provide a link to NOAA’s tide table for this area.

You might enjoy a map in advance to plan your routes and check out drop off sites. The Glacier Bay Alaska Geographic stocks a wide variety of maps and the Glacier Bay nautical chart as well as books on the history, topography, plants and animals of Glacier Bay. We recommend the combined topographic/nautical chart of Glacier Bay National Park, entitled Trails Illustrated Map #255. To find out prices and more information please write, phone or e-mail: Alaska Geographic, P.O. Box 140, Gustavus, AK 99826-0140, (907) 697-2635,   You may also purchase any of these items at the NPS Visitor Information Station (VIS) or the NPS Visitor Center (located on the second floor of Glacier Bay Lodge).

New in 2020, David Bahr has finished a detailed three volume guide book on Glacier Bay that can help you prepare and for your trip and plan your route, along with a very detailed and helpful nautical chart of Glacier Bay. The chart is lightly coated for water resistance and is sized so as not to be too unwieldly. It contains interesting scientific and historical information, Tlingit place names, along with practical advice on camping sites, water sources, and current and tidal information for entering inlets. It’s an excellent resource that will help you in planning your paddling route. When we meet you to issue your kayak, we will also go over your itinerary and answer any questions you may have. The chart is such a lovely work of art you may want to buy two of them so you have one to frame as a reminder of your Glacier Bay adventure!

Gustavus has just one small grocery store. Toshco is a Costco re-sale store and hardware/camping supply store open 6 days a week in the summer and closed on Sundays. It is located on Mountain View Road which is part of the main paved road that runs 10 miles from the airport to the Glacier Bay/Bartlett Cove campground. Toshco carries a more limited amount of fresh food and camping-type food than you might find down south. Toshco does carry bear spray, white gas, and butane/propane fuel. We suggest you purchase most of your food and camping supplies prior to your arrival and according to suggestions provided on our website pages Bear Canisters and Packing Tips. See our Bear Spray & Fuel page for details on getting these items.

We suggest stopping at one of the cash machines located in downtown Juneau or the Juneau airport before coming to Gustavus.  There is only one ATM machine in Gustavus at the Toshco Store located on Mountain View Road on your way out to Bartlett Cove.  You may want cash for taxi fares, restaurant meals, miscellaneous purchases, and tips.