Kayaking In Glacier Bay, Alaska
Prior kayaking experience is not necessary to rent our double kayaks and many visitors to Glacier Bay have never kayaked before. Unlike whitewater boats, sea touring kayaks are extremely stable and tandem kayaks are easy to paddle for the novice to intermediate kayaker. We do require that our single kayaks be rented only by experienced kayakers who have learned re-entry skills in case of capsize. Due to the size of our cockpit openings, a participant’s hip/waist size should not exceed 54 inches (137 cm) as measured when seated.
We have a policy that we don’t rent kayaks to solo paddlers despite your level of experience because of liability and safety reasons. We encourage you to plan ahead and find a like-minded friend who wants to travel with you to Glacier Bay. If you’re unable to find a partner, another option would be to contact Alaska Boat and Kayak in Juneau about renting a single kayak and coordinate your trip dates with the AMHS ferry schedule between Juneau and Gustavus.
All multi-day rental customers should be experienced outdoors people, well prepared to spend their days and nights in a wilderness setting, in bear country, and ready to learn techniques of Glacier Bay camping and small boat handling. Tides, wind, heavy rainfall and cold ocean water can combine to make camping and kayaking in this country challenging and unforgiving of mistakes. We find that sunny days generally equate to windy afternoons on the water, while mornings and cloudy or rainy days are calmer and better for paddling. With our long daylight hours, paddlers will often rise early to get their paddling time in on the water before it gets windy around mid-day on sunny days. Both sunny afternoons and rainy low pressure systems bring more wind which often means waiting on the beach until the wind subsides. If conditions present white caps or choppy water, less experienced paddlers should remain on shore or go to shore. Temperatures in the summer range from a dry, warm 70 degrees to cool and wet weather in the 50’s. June tends to have less rain and cooler temperatures while July and August can have more rain but warmer temperatures. Because this is a northern temperate rain forest, you should come prepared for cloudy, rainy, cool weather, and be pleasantly surprised if you end up with a week of sunshine!
We recommend that you do some pre-trip research. See your local library or bookstore. The Glacier Bay Alaska Geographic stocks a wide variety of maps and nautical charts as well as books on the history, topography, plants and animals of Glacier Bay. You might enjoy a map in advance to plan your routes and check out drop off sites. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Think about the kind of kayaking experience you want and come prepared to follow a route consistent with your expectations and current drop off points. Feel free to contact us for assistance in trip planning.
There is plenty of room to pack for a week or two, but kayaks can best be packed with several small, waterproofed stuff sacks, team bags, or zipper duffels, measuring about 10″ X 20″. When packing a kayak, cook gear, water bladders, tents, pads and sleeping bags go in separately. A frame pack, and most internal frame packs, will not fit into a kayak. You can make arrangements to store in Bartlett Cove any gear you wish to leave behind while you are kayaking.
Print off the Gear List for detailed information on what to bring and how to pack a kayak. Be sure to follow the gear list closely and eliminate superfluous gear.