The largest tidewater glacier in North America sparkles northwest of Juneau.
Most of Alaska’s glaciers are in full retreat, but 200 miles northwest of Juneau, Hubbard Glacier is still charging forth into the sea from its source high in Canada’s Yukon. This river of ice doesn’t just flow; it crumbles and cracks, dropping chunks of blue ice the size of cars, houses, or even apartment buildings into Disenchantment Bay. The biggest slabs unleash waves of water and sound that rock all the cruise ships or kayaks nearby. The glacier measures seven miles wide at its foot and 76 miles long, making it the largest tidewater glacier in North America. It’s old, too: The ice along the glacier’s 600-foot-high face first formed before the time of the Pilgrims. When a chunk calves into the ocean, it’s the endpoint of a long trajectory. If you’re lucky enough to watch it happen, you’ll view ancient beauty and explosive change in one sweep.
This article was first published in September 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.