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Gustavus

Gustavus

While in Gustavus experience the Beach Walk, the Bartlett River Trail, the Bartlett Lake Trail and Kayaking Glacier Bay. Gustavus is considered the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Kayaking, camping, moose hunting, fishing, whale-watching, sightseeing, beach combing and berry picking are all popular activities in the area. Cultural attractions for Gustavus include the sponsored activities throughout summer by the Gustavus Arts Council and National Park Service. Other cultural events include the Fourth of July celebration and the Gustavus Music Festival in April.

Overview

Gustavus lies on the north shore of Icy Passage at the mouth of the Salmon River, 48 miles northwest of Juneau in the Fairweather Mountain Range. It is surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on three sides and the waters of Icy Passage on the south. Glacier Bay Park totals almost 3.3 million acres, and offers 12 tidewater glaciers. In addition to abundant wildlife, glaciers and unsurpassed scenery, Glacier Bay is acknowledged as having a world-class marine ecosystem. It has received international recognition as both a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve.

When Captain George Vancouver sailed through Icy Strait in 1794, Glacier Bay was completely covered by the Grand Pacific Glacier. Over the next century, the glacier retreated some 40 miles, and a spruce-hemlock forest began to develop. By 1916, it had retreated 65 miles from the position observed by Vancouver in 1794. Gustavus is located on a flat area formed by the outwash from the glacier and the area is still growing. Gustavus began as an agricultural homestead in 1914. It was once known as Strawberry Point due to the abundant wild strawberries. The current name was derived from Point Gustavus, which lies 7 miles to the southwest. Glacier Bay National Monument (including Gustavus) was established by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. After many appeals the homesteaders were able to keep their land and the Gustavus area was excluded from the monument. It became a National Park in 1980 with the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The City of Gustavus was incorporated on April 1, 2004.

Gustavus is a community with a number of seasonal-use homes for Juneau residents. The nearby Glacier Bay Park is a major visitor destination in Southeast. Many of the residents who have relocated here chose Gustavus for the lifestyle, the nearness to natural resources, the beauty of the area, and for the subsistence activities available.

Transportation

Located 37 nautical miles west of Juneau, the community of Gustavus is accessible by a water taxi or a short flight and is the entry point for Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

Alaska Airlines has daily flights in the summer and there are many small planes, corporate jets and several air taxi services that use the airport. Float planes land at nearby Bartlett Cove. Air traffic is relatively high during peak summer months, and cruise ships include the Bay in their itinerary.

There is a 10-mile local road connecting Bartlett Cove, the park entrance with the airport. Small boats and small ferry boats regularly use the Gustavus Dock in the summer. Regulations limit the number of vessels entering Glacier Bay to protect humpback whales and other park resources and values. Permits are required for boaters between June 1 and August 31, and may be obtained from the National Park Service (907-697-2627). Tours are available from Bartlett Cove, Gustavus and Juneau. Gustavus does not have AMHS service or inter-island ferry service.

Services

The community of Gustavus has lodges, inns, bed and breakfasts, cabins and lodges limited grocery service, and taxis to serve visitors. Car, kayak and bike rentals are available.

Weather

The area's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 52 to 63; winter temperatures from 26 to 39.

Local Contacts

For more information on Gustavus, contact the Gustavus Visitors Association, P.O. Box 167, Gustavus, AK 99827, (907-697-2285); City of Gustavus, P.O. Box 1, Gustavus, AK 99826, (907-697-2751); http://www.gca.gustavus.ak.us.

Sources

Community Locator
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Gustavus Locator Map