Bear Glacier marks the beginning of the Kenai Fjords National Park from the East. It is the longest glacier in the park, measuring 13 miles long. We will approach it more closely but we will never come too close to it because it is not a tidewater, calving glacier. Several hundred years ago this glacier laid down a large enough terminal moraine that it cut off its own travel to the tide water's edge. Terminal moraines are built at the face of every glacier where the ice is melting. The ice has picked up lots of rock and debris as it has worked its way downhill. At the face of the glacier the glacial ice is melting and rock is being deposited into the moraine.
If a glacier stays relatively stable, advances a little in the winter and retreats the same amount in the summer, a larger than usual terminal moraine is built and this must have been what happened at Bear Glacier. So now the ice at the face of the glacier falls into a 3.5 sq mile fresh water lake. This lake is about 300 - 500 feet deep and you can make out icebergs floating in it to the right of the glacial face. Every glacier also has lateral moraines where similar melting and deposition is occurring on the sides of the glacier. Bear glacier has a third type of moraine. The stripe that runs down the center of the glacier is called a "medial moraine." When you see a medial moraine on a glacier you can tell that the glacier is made up of more than one flow of ice. On Bear glacier two flows of ice come together and where their lateral moraines meet, the large medial moraine is formed.