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. Spectacular Mount St. Elias has a sea level to summit rise of 18,008 feet in less than 10 miles, making it the highest vertical rise in the world (Everest, by comparison, has a base to summit rise of only 12,000 feet).
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. The fjords of the bay were created just in the last century during a rapid retreat of the glaciers that now lie at the head of the fjords.These moving glaciers left vast ridges, open meadows, and wide beach flats in their stead. Bears, mountain goats, moose, wolves, and seals live in the area, along with unique birds including Aleutian terns, jaegers, and red-throated loons.
On long 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. The nature of Icy Bay offers both easy and challenging hikes and paddling to accommodate a range of activity. 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
Meet in Yakutat, Alaska. Arrive by 6:00pm. Pre-trip meeting and lodging at Glacier Bear Lodge.
Day 2 : Icy Bay
Incredible bush plane flight over Yakutat Bay and the Malaspina Glacier to Icy Bay. Unload and assemble the folding kayaks and have an introductory kayak lesson.
Days 3 - 4 : Kayak, Hike, and Camp in Remote Icy Bay
Kayak, hike, and camp in remote 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.
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.
Day 8 : Return to Yakutat and depart
Break down kayaks and board bush planes for an awesomely scenic return flight to Yakutat. Depart Yakutat.
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."