Portage was once a roadside glacier, but it recedes an average of one foot a day and is now no longer visible from the road. However, its big blue icebergs are often found along the shore of the lake, right in front of the parking area. You can see the lake in a half hour, but may want to spend time at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center (½-1 hour), take the boat cruise (1 hour), or have lunch at the local cafeteria.
Directions: Head south from Anchorage on the Seward Highway, to the end of the 5-mile Portage Spur Road. You can visit the face of Portage by tour boat from the dock at the lake. Bring a light jacket, as winds tend to pick up around the face of the glacier itself.
Distance: 48 miles south of Anchorage.
Drive Time: 1 hour.
Explore Time: 1-4 hours.
Naturalist and author John Muir first made his way to Alaska in 1879, where he went to explore Glacier Bay. Later, a valley glacier in Glacier Bay National Park was named after him. Just under 90 miles from Juneau, Muir Glacier was a popular stop for many tourists in the late 19th century, and still is today. Be sure to catch Muir on your cruise through Glacier Bay!
The 2000 photograph documents the continuing advance of Harvard Glacier, which has completely obscured the view of Radcliff Glacier. Baltimore Glacier has continued to retreat and thin. Alder has become established on the hill slopes, but is difficult to see from the photo location. Harvard Glacier has advanced more than 1.25 kilometers (0.78 miles) since 1909. (USGS Photograph by Bruce F. Molnia).
In this series of photos from June of 2002, Bruce Molnia of the USGS documented the advancing terminus of Hubbard Glacier and the channel cut into the top of its push moraine that blocked the mouth of Russell Fiord. A push moraine is sediment that, in this case, has been bulldozed from the floor of Russell Fiord by the advancing ice. In a few views, some of this sediment can be seen in contact with the bedrock on the wall of the fjord.
Grand Pacific Glacier can actually be found in two countries. Part of the tidewater glacier is located in Reid Inlet within Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, while the other side can be found in the Grand Pacific Pass in British Columbia, Canada. Back in the 1700s, Grand Pacific Glacier filled the entire bay, and reached all they way to the Icy Strait.
The famous surveyor Mendenhall named this glacier for a miner who was carrying mail from Cook Inlet to Whittier in 1896, disappeared in a snowstorm, and was never seen again. His brother Willard (who gives his name to the nearby island) searched for him but found only the mail packet atop the glacier which now bears his name.
Columbia glacier is located in Prince William Sound. At over 550 meters thick at some points and covering an area of 400 square miles, this glacier is a sight to behold, whether from a boat or the sky. It snakes its way 32 miles through the Chugach Mountains before dumping into the Columbia Bay, about 40 miles by boat from Valdez.
One of few glaciers that are actually advancing, Margerie Glacier is about 21 miles long and 250 feet high (with a base 100 feet below sea level). The tidewater glacier has been growing roughly 30 feet per year for the last few decades, and has joined and separated from Grand Pacific Glacier over the past twenty-five years.
The last two aerial photographs in this group of five document changes that occurred during the 69 years between June 1937 and July 28, 2006. Both photographs are taken towards the north and show the retreating, calving, tidewater terminus of Yale Glacier, located at the head of Yale Arm, College Fiord, Prince William Sound, Alaska. In 1937, Yale Glacier’s terminus was More...
Named after Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, this is one of Alaska's most picturesque glaciers. It's 12 miles long, located in Glacier Bay National Park and has been confirmed to be one of few glaciers that is still advancing rather than shrinking. The only access to the face of the glacier is by cruising up the Johns Hopkins Inlet.
Named after Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, this is one of Alaska's most picturesque glaciers. …
This glacier, named after Northwestern University in 1909, can be found at the head of Northwestern Fjord in Kenai Fjords National Park, just under 30 miles southwest of Seward. By the second half of the 20th century, Northwestern Glacier's recession revealed a number of islands in the Fjord that had previously been covered in ice. Take a cruise from Seward and envision the entirety of of Northwestern Fjord filled with ice, as you make your way to Northwestern Glacier.
Beloit Glacier fluctuates betwen 125 and 250 feet high at water's edge depending on recent calving activity. Calving diminishes the face but it builds back up again quickly as the glacier descends to sea. Nonetheless, the glacier is in rapid retreat; you can spot bedrock becoming exposed at the base of the glacier. It was named after the Wisconsin college, as were most of the other More...
Holgate Glacier, found in Holgate Arm in Aialik Bay, within Kenai Fjords National Park, is a tidewater and mountain glacier. While it is one of the smaller glaciers in Aialik Bay, Holgate Glacier is still a popular destination to see calving glaciers. And it is actually advancing! Holgate Arm is often filled with ice, but on a good day you can get to a close and safe distance from the glacier. Catch a cruise from Seward, or go kayaking!
Like its name implies, Cascade twists steeply down a mountainside into the west side of Barry Arm. The dividing line between Cascade and Barry Glacier is sometimes hard to distinguish, because they converge into each other. Cascade is in rapid retreat. The large rock behind the kayaker in this photo was under ice only five years ago. Today, the rock is not only exposed, but the More...
The Knik Glacier snakes out of the Chugach Mountains, tumbling into an iceberg-studded lake that feeds the Knik River. With a five-mile-wide face and daily calving, it’s an impressive sight: 400-foot ice walls rise out of a lake filled with icebergs that are floating, turning, and breaking apart. This glacier used to wreak havoc on the Mat-Su Valley, advancing every winter and More...
A few hundred feet above the boat, you'll see Northland Glacier perched atop sheer rock. This glacier calves a lot. The ice blocks ricochet and shatter down the rock face before exploding into the water below. It's an exciting spectacle. Also, a steady waterfall drains down; to the side, you'll see a kittiwake rookery.
Barry Glacier actually flows behind College Fjord and parallel to it for a dozen miles before plunging into the head of Barry Arm. On many days, it spawns enough ice into the Arm to prevent boats from getting close. It all depends on the tide, winds, and calving activity. Sometimes, a bay clear of ice can fill up in less than an hour.