Naturalist John Muir described Glacier Bay as "a picture of icy wilderness unspeakably pure and sublime." Glacier Bay is about 50 miles (80 km) long, on the coast of southeastern Alaska, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Juneau. It is noted for the spectacular display of 16 active glaciers that descend from the lofty ice-draped St. Elias Range to the east and the Fairweather Range to the west. Cruise ships are required to pick up a Park Ranger from a launch at the entrance to Galcier Bay and proceed under his/her direction. Most ships will proceed down the north west arm of the Bay to Tarr Inlet and the Margerie and Grand Pacific glaciers where the chances of viewing calving of ice into the sea are good. At this point the exposed rock is from 90 million to 200 million years old. Margerie is one mile wide, 180ft high, 400ft deep (below water) and 14 miles long. Cruise ships will usually stop within 400 yards of the face. The 25 mile long advancing Grand Pacific is 1.5 miles wide, 150ft high and 200ft deep.
Nearby is the Johns Hopkins inlet containing nine separate glaciers including the impressive and advancing John Hopkins Glacier. The north eastern arm of Glacier Bay is Muir Inlet and leads to the 2 mile wide retreating Muir Glacier amongst others. The landscape ranges from rocky ice-swept terrain to lush forests of spruce and hemlock. Wildlife includes the black and brown bear, mountain goat, seal, sea lion, whale, puffin, eagle, and cormorant. The ntrance to the bay is a good place for whale spotting. Glacier Bay was named by Captain Lester A. Beardslee of the U.S. Navy in 1880.
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