Hubbard Glacier in Alaska

When you think of Alaska, what images come to mind? For us, it’s icy glaciers, humpback whales and vast rugged wilderness. So, when planning our Alaska cruise, we decided to visit the mighty Hubbard Glacier in Alaska’s picturesque Disenchantment Bay.

The Hubbard Glacier is famous for being North America’s largest tidewater glacier. It’s over 120 kilometres long (75 miles), 11 km wide (7 miles) and flows directly into Disenchantment Bay, which feeds into the North Pacific Ocean. 

The Hubbard Glacier height is said to be 600 feet at its terminal face (350 feet exposed above the waterline and 250 feet below the waterline – source). For perspective, this is the same height as the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. It’s HUGE!

Related: Watch our video tour of the Celebrity Eclipse Cruise ship

Where is Hubbard Glacier located? 

The Hubbard Glacier location is at the tip of Disenchantment Bay. It connects to Yakutat Bay in the Gulf of Alaska. The actual location of the Hubbard Glacier is inside Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve, which is north of Glacier Bay National Park. Here’s a Hubbard Glacier map.

You cannot reach the Hubbard Glacier by car. Unless you have a private boat, you will need to join an Alaska cruise to see the Hubbard Glacier. Or, you can take a scenic flight-seeing tour and witness the ancient glacier from the air.

The glacier is very impressive and definitely worth visiting.

Perspective. That “little” boat is actually quite large. If you look closely, you will see approximately 25 people standing on the top deck. 

Further perspective. The huge cruise ship is dwarfed by the impressive Hubbard Glacier. 

The camera sensor had a hard time focusing on the glacier. Many of my photos captured the glacier as a turquoise blue. However, to the naked eye, the glacier appears more white than the photos illustrate.

View from our stateroom on the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship

This stateroom is considered an obstructed view because of the orange life boat, however, as you can see, the ocean views are minimally impacted. It’s pretty incredible to witness a massive calving glacier from the private deck of your stateroom. 

Related: Watch our video tour of the Celebrity Eclipse Cruise ship

The Alaska cruise departs from Vancouver and takes 4 days to reach the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. 

The Celebrity Eclipse floats gently beside the glacier. It rotates 360 degrees so guests on either side of the ship can see the Hubbard Glacier. The cruise ship does not get too close to the calving glacier out of an abundance of caution. Waves and icebergs from glacier calving is dangerous. So is the depth and width of the glacier that is underwater.

The cruise ship spent about an hour inside Disenchantment Bay bay before returning south from the Hubbard Glacier to Juneau, Alaska. The ship sailed overnight from Juneau to Hubbard Glacier. We arrived at the glacier around 11:00 AM. 

Related – Everything you need to know about an Alaska cruise

The obligatory family photo on the observation deck of the cruise ship.

Hubbard Glacier fun facts

  • The ice you see at the terminal face originally fell as snow, as much as 500 years ago. [source]
  • The glacier is over 2,000 feet thick at some locations.
  • Hubbard Glacier starts at Mount Logan (2nd tallest mountain in North America at 19,850 feet) in the Yukon Territory in Canada.
  • It ends at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, over 120 kilometres later. 

Panoramic views of the Hubbard Glacier

We experienced heavy clouds and overcast skies during our visit to the Hubbard Glacier. Although we were a little bummed that we didn’t get the full mountain and glacier panorama – like this photo – we were told that it’s quite common for this type of weather.

A few hours before reaching Yakutat Bay, we overheard crew members say that our Alaskan cruise ship might not be able to make it inside the bay. Hubbard Glacier weather in August is unpredictable. Fortunately, the weather cooperated that morning. The ship was able to get up close to the glacier.

Guests marvel at the glacier from the viewing deck on the cruise ship.

Streams of glacial ice float past the ship in Disenchantment Bay. The colour of the water is an amazing turquoise blue. It’s hard to see in these photos, because of the overcast skies. The water looks similar to the glacier fed lakes in the Canadian Rockies (like Moraine Lake in Alberta). 

Connor is mesmerized by the floating chunks of ice that pass the cruise ship. 

Views of the glaciers and mountains from the observation deck. A highlight from our Alaska cruise.

You can see the tip of the Hubbard Glacier far off in the distance. The surrounding mountain landscapes are quite remarkable. Alaska is nature at its finest!

Have you visited Alaska? 

If not, is an Alaska cruise on your travel wish list?

Read next – Our experience on the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship

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