Gustavus is a fascinating playground for both outdoors-men and photographers alike. Whether you’re a well-known photographer, or just starting out, these top picks are perfect for wowing friends and family with the beauty of Glacier Bay.
Bear Track Inn
The Bear Track Inn is a wonder in itself. With handcrafted logs and beautiful surroundings, you’re bound to get a few great shots. Fireweed and Cotton Grass bloom all around the lodge, while Barn Swallows build nests nearby. Take a walk down to the beaches of the Icy Strait where you will find wildflowers, various species of Alaskan birds, and possibly spot a moose or bear!
Tip: June is great for Cotton Grass and Dandelions, while July brings Fireweed. August and September are the best months to view the Northern Lights.
The hike to Falls Creek is 3-5 miles round trip and offers many opportunities to spot wildlife. The growing berries invite Black Bear to graze, while moose travel through the brush with their calves. The waterfall itself is a marvel, and is a must-visit bucket list shot for both beginner and advanced photographers.
Tip: Visit the waterfall after a few days of heavy rain for a fuller effect.
Or 4-Corners, as the locals call it. This tiny city was established less than a hundred years ago. Sites to photograph include the Dray, which features old-fashioned pumping stations, a few staple restaurants, and the Gustavus Inn. On Saturday mornings, visit the Farmer’s Market and view local artwork. In addition to the city, there is a boat harbor, old golf course, and of course, the charming little airport (which was built during WWII).
Tip: There are a few, off-the-beaten-path trails to explore, so be sure to ask around about what trails you should be seeing.
The Gustavus Dock is great for spotting Eagles, Sea Lions, and other marine life. Fishermen bustle in and out of the dock with their catch of Halibut, Salmon, and other tasty fresh Alaskan fish. Sometimes, humpback or Minke whales can be spotted near Pleasant Island, which is viewable from across the dock. To the West, the Fairweather mountains boarder Gustavus with peaks rising 15,000 feet from the sea. Look for Strawberries sprouting on the beach in July. Spending some time around the dock or on the beach will surely bring you some great photo opportunities!
Tip: Check the tides to better plan your photo session. Low tide brings feeding eagles and other birds, while high tide is great for Sea Lions and other feeding wildlife.
Not far from the Gustavus dock is the Nagoonberry Trail. Here you will find natural communities of wildflowers, fruits, Alaskan seabirds, and other various wildlife. The trail is a 2.2 mile loop through forest and meadow, with two scenic outlooks.
Tip: The best months for blooming flowers are June and July.
Plane Crash Site
Off Mountain View Road is a short, secluded, historically significant trail to the plane crash site of 1957. As you approach the wreckage, scattered pieces of metal are on all sides of the trail. Take a moment to learn about what occurred that frightful night, and take a moment to honor the survivors and brave residents who assisted with the search and rescue.
Tip: Look for various species of mushrooms along the trail.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay offers numerous opportunities for amazing shots. Along the Forrest Loop Trail you will find various wildflowers and wildlife, as well as a reconstructed whale skeleton, Snow, a handmade Tlingit canoe, and the beautiful Tlingit Tribal House. Bartlett Cove offers breathtaking scenery and is busy with passing fishermen, small cruise ships, seaplanes, and various wildlife. Look across the cove for signs of black bear, or walk the tide pools and explore the cove’s sea life.
In addition to the cove, Glacier Bay has two rugged trails that are a must to visit. The Bartlett River Trail curves along with the river where you will find various species of mushroom, red squirrels, seals, salmon, or black bear. The Bartlett Lake Trail, which branches off of the River trail, is just as breathtaking, and takes you through temperate rainforest.
We hope you enjoyed our list of incredible photography sites around Gustavus. As always, feel free to contact us for more information. We would love to help you prepare for your visit!