Hubbard Glacier and Yakutat Bay: Alaska is home to some of the most breathtaking glaciers in the world, and Hubbard Glacier is undoubtedly one of the most impressive. Located in Yakutat Bay, the Hubbard Glacier spans over 76 miles, with its face being nearly 6 miles wide. Its unique features, including its towering ice walls, make it a must-see destination for anyone who loves nature and adventure. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Hubbard Glacier and Yakutat Bay, exploring their history, geology, wildlife, and much more.
Introduction to Hubbard Glacier
The Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America, stretching from Canada’s Yukon Territory to Alaska’s Disenchantment Bay. It was named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a lawyer, and philanthropist who was one of the founders of the National Geographic Society. The glacier is famous for its impressive size and unique features, such as its spectacular calving events, where chunks of ice break off the glacier’s face, and the loud cracking and thunderous sounds that precede them.
The Hubbard Glacier was first discovered in 1890 by an American explorer named E. H. Harriman. It was later mapped in the 1920s and 1930s by the United States Geological Survey, which documented its size and characteristics. Today, the glacier is part of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, which covers over 13 million acres of land.
Geology of Hubbard Glacier
The Hubbard Glacier is a classic example of a valley glacier, which forms when snow accumulates in high-altitude areas and gradually transforms into ice. As the ice accumulates, it begins to flow downhill, carving out a path through the landscape. In the case of Hubbard Glacier, it flows down from the St. Elias Mountains, where it’s fed by numerous tributaries.
One of the most remarkable features of the Hubbard Glacier is its blue color. The ice appears blue because it absorbs all the colors in the visible light spectrum except for blue, which is reflected back. The ice’s blue hue becomes more intense when the weather is cloudy or overcast, creating a mesmerizing sight that’s truly unforgettable.
Wildlife in Yakutat Bay
Yakutat Bay, which is home to the Hubbard Glacier, is a prime location for observing wildlife. The area is abundant in marine life, including humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, and seals. These creatures are often spotted swimming in the bay’s waters, making for an incredible sight.
The area around the glacier is also home to various bird species, such as bald eagles, Arctic terns, and puffins. These birds are a common sight in the region and can be observed nesting on nearby cliffs and rocks.
Activities to Do in Yakutat Bay
There’s no shortage of things to do in Yakutat Bay, and visitors can enjoy various activities throughout the year. During the summer months, visitors can take a boat tour of the glacier, getting up close and personal with its towering walls. These tours are a popular way to experience the glacier and observe its unique features.
For those who enjoy fishing, the bay is a prime location for salmon, halibut, and other fish species. There are plenty of charter fishing tours available, providing visitors with an opportunity to try their hand at fishing and experience the region’s natural beauty.
Tips for Visiting Yakutat Bay
If you’re planning a trip to Yakutat Bay, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, the weather can be unpredictable and it’s essential to pack appropriate clothing for the conditions. It’s recommended to dress in layers, including waterproof and windproof outerwear. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring binoculars, as they can come in handy when observing wildlife and the glacier.
Visitors should also be mindful of their impact on the environment and practice responsible tourism. This includes following the “leave no trace” principles, such as packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the natural surroundings. It’s essential to respect the wildlife and their habitats, keeping a safe distance and avoiding any behavior that could harm them.
History of Yakutat Bay
The area around Yakutat Bay has a rich history, dating back thousands of years. The Tlingit people, an indigenous group from Alaska, have lived in the region for generations, relying on the land and sea for their livelihoods. They have a deep connection to the area’s natural surroundings, and their culture and traditions are closely tied to the region’s wildlife and environment.
In the 18th century, the Russian Empire established a trading post in Yakutat Bay, which eventually led to the Russian-American Company’s establishment in 1799. The company controlled Alaska’s fur trade for over 80 years until it was sold to the United States in 1867. Today, the area is primarily used for tourism, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities.
The Hubbard Glacier and Yakutat Bay are truly unique destinations, offering visitors an opportunity to experience the natural wonders of Alaska. The glacier’s impressive size and unique features make it a must-see attraction, while the bay’s abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes provide ample opportunities for adventure and exploration.
Whether you’re interested in taking a boat tour of the glacier, fishing in the bay’s waters, or observing the region’s wildlife, Yakutat Bay has something for everyone. It’s a destination that’s sure to leave a lasting impression, with its rugged natural beauty and rich history. So, if you’re planning a trip to Alaska, be sure to add Yakutat Bay to your itinerary – you won’t be disappointed!