Sea kayaking & hiking in Icy Bay
The stunning St. Elias Mountains, highest coastal range in the world, dominate the coastline of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park—the largest national park in the United States—and form the backdrop for our most remote sea kayaking and hiking expedition. From the rustic village of Yakutat, bush planes treat you to an aerial view of the enormous Malaspina Glacier, a mass of slowly moving ice larger than the state of Rhode Island, on the way to the pristine shores of Icy Bay, an area of startling superlatives.
On leisurely kayak paddles through fjords of floating ice and enjoyable hikes to great vistas, you’ll feast your eyes on inspiring scenes in one of Alaska’s most spectacular settings and premier wilderness areas, as well as an increasing variety of marine and terrestrial wildlife. The nature of Icy Bay offers both easy and challenging hikes and paddling to accommodate a range of activity. Join the original Alaska Discovery company on this journey, and be sure to bring along an adventurous spirit and an explorer’s curiosity!
6 days easy to moderate sea kayaking and hiking
- Kayak and hike in Icy Bay, in the environs of the St. Elias Mountains, the highest coastal mountain range in the world
- Spectacular flight over the huge Malaspina Glacier under the shadow of the massive St. Elias Range
- Dramatic scenery of fjords, changing glaciers, and soaring peaks in one of Alaska's premier wilderness areas
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Yakutat End Location: YakutatDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Yakutat
Travel to Yakutat, Alaska, and transfer to Glacier Bear Lodge, located about three miles from the airport. The lodge's van will pick you up at the airport when you arrive. In the unlikely event that you don’t see them (or Alaska Discovery guides), you can call them at 907-784-3202.
We’ll gather at 6:00 p.m. for a trip briefing. This is a must-attend event! You will meet your guides and other guests, have an orientation to the trip area, learn about bear-country camping techniques, and be issued rain gear and rubber boots. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 2 : Icy Bay
After breakfast together, we will transfer to the airport for one of the most spectacular flights in Alaska! We’ll fly across Yakutat Bay, right over the Malaspina Glacier and under the shadow of the massive St. Elias Range, and finally arrive on the pristine shores of Icy Bay. The remainder of the day will be spent assembling our folding kayaks, reviewing safety and paddle techniques, taking a 2-3 hour paddle (with a break) and setting up camp.
Days 3 - 4 : Kayak, Hike, and Camp in Remote Icy Bay
We’ll spend the next few days exploring Icy Bay in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, often referred to as the “mountain kingdom of North America.” Nature and our own desires dictate the itinerary. Most days you’ll be kayaking, moving from one extraordinary camp to another and drifting among the icebergs watching birds, seals, porpoises, and the unending jaw-dropping scenery. You’ll stay at some camps for two nights to allow for all-day hikes into the hills and valleys above the fjords, where you may spot bears, mountain goats, moose, wolves, and coyotes. All hiking will be done with light day packs, thus allowing us the freedom to cover as much ground as we want during the long daylight hours.
Our two-person Klepper folding kayaks are stable and easy to paddle. A foot-controlled rudder system allows the stern paddler to steer the boat in any direction, and each twosome will soon feel like old hands at this skill. Each boat will carry personal gear, as well as a share of the group food and camping gear. Camps will be established in meadows or beach flats, with superb views of the waters and surrounding glaciers and mountains (18,008-foot Mt. St. Elias!).
Although this is not a lengthy expedition, the nature of the trip requires the use of some dried foods, and we think you will be very pleased with the quality, quantity, and variety of foods prepared throughout the trip.
Days 5 - 7 : The Glaciers of Icy Bay
The whole of Icy Bay was covered by a glacier in the last 150 years! Now the ice has receeded leaving a raw, newly emerged landscape. We travel up the fjords to the glaciers and we can hear them cracking and groaning as they move slowly over the mountains below them. We watch the ice fall into the ocean, sometimes off the face of the glacier and sometimes tumbling down over the side of the cliffs.
Mount St. Elias looms at ove 18.000 feet above the sea. For many years, this was thought to be the hightest mountain in North America. It certainly seems like it when you are floating on the ocean looking up over three miles into the sky at its snow capped peak.
Day 8 : Return to Yakutat and depart
We disassemble the kayaks and board bush planes for an awesomely scenic return flight to Yakutat, arriving in time for the scheduled Alaskan Airlines service to Juneau (we have tailored this trip around this flight, and Juneau is your gateway city to other destinations). Most guests choose to return to Juneau this night and often get together for a no-host dinner at a local restaurant. We recommend you stay in Juneau this evening as some flights homeward necessitate a forced overnight in Seattle before connecting with onward-bound flights. We’ll provide you with a list of hotels in the pre-departure information booklet.
Please note – There is only one daily evening flight leaving Yakutat and landing in Juneau. If you are staying in Juneau for the night, we will meet you at the airport in Juneau and take you to your preferred lodging. If you are continuing to Anchorage, there is a connecting flight late tis evening.. You must arrange for these flights on your own as they are not provided by Mountain Travel Sobek/Alaska Discovery.
DATES: Best time to go: June - July Departures: Jul 11 - 18, 2015 Jul 17 - 24, 2015
Glacier Bay LodgeGlacier Bay National Park
Nestled under the spruce trees that line Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay Lodge offers the only hotel accommodations within Glacier Bay National Park. The Lodge offers magnificent sunset views of the Fairweather Mountain range. Here you'll enjoy cozy hotel room accommodations among the Sitka Spruce trees and relax in the warmth of the lobby's massive stone fireplace. All rooms have en suite bathrooms.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Ken Leghorn has been guiding wilderness trips in Alaska since graduating from college with a degree in biology in 1978 and moving to Juneau. He was the manager/co-owner of Alaska Discovery until selling the company to Mountain Travel Sobek in 2000. Ken helped launch the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association and formed a local non-profit, Discovery Southeast, now in its 21st year of providing nature education to youth. Ken was chair of the statewide Alaska Conservation Foundation, became the founding executive director of the Juneau Community Foundation, and now serves on the board of Audubon Alaska.
Jeff Sloss, Alaska Discovery Kayak, Canoe, & River Guide: Jeff has been a lead guide for Alaska Discovery for over 20 years. He has helped set the high standards of quality and commitment that makes us a great company. Whenever we think of exploring a new area we turn to Jeff to make it happen. In the winter, Jeff teaches skiing and snowboarding in Juneau, works on film projects, and helps raise his two daughters. Jeff is an active conservationist and has lobbied Congress to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Jeff carries a deep love for Alaska onto all of his trips. Jeff writes, "Among the high points of this career are experiencing some of the world's finest places, and meeting new people as well as enjoying the company of returning guests that share an appreciation of this Great Land."