Alaska Campsites - The Last Frontier & America's Best
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Alaska campsites are known for standing out from the crowd. It’s a priceless feeling to be submerged in nature—away from the crowds and off the grid—surrounded by utter peace and quiet. Not only is “unplugging” good for reviving your mind and relaxing your soul, but it’s almost criminal not to take time out of your hectic life to soak in the remote landscapes of the Last Frontier. As you begin piecing together your summertime bucket list, consider adding a few nights underneath the stars in one of America’s most magnificent campgrounds: Bartlett Cove. [caption id="attachment_8350" align="aligncenter" width="800"] NPS.GOV[/caption]
In a recent article published by Country Living Magazine, with help from the outdoor experts at Hipcamp, Bartlett Cove’s primitive campground in Glacier Bay National Park was named one of America’s 21 Most Beautiful Campsites. We’ve decided to take a closer look at this hidden gem located in Alaska’s southeast region. [caption id="attachment_8364" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - mark byzewski[/caption]
Bartlett Cove is located in the 3.3 million acre Glacier Bay National Park, which offers impressive displays of snow-capped mountains, tidewater glaciers, expansive coastlines, deep fjords, lush rainforest and spectacular wildlife. [caption id="attachment_8363" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - mark byzewski[/caption]
To access Bartlett Cove head to the isolated community of Gustavus. There is no road access to Gustavus, so you’ll need to find an air connection from the nearby towns of Juneau, Skagway, or Haines. The Alaska Marine Highway also provides ferry service to Gustavus all year long. Bartlett Cove is approximately ten miles via a paved road from Gustavus. Taxi services are available to shuttle visitors to the area. Once you reach Bartlett Cove the campground is located just a quarter-mile south of the Bartlett Cove dock. [caption id="attachment_8360" align="aligncenter" width="688"] NPS.GOV[/caption]
Not only will you be spoiled with an unbeatable view, but visitors also rave about being able to hear a delightful amount of birds chirping throughout the entirety of their camping experience. Couple that with the sounds of whales feeding, and you’ll feel like your tent is the real-life version of heaven on earth. [caption id="attachment_8351" align="aligncenter" width="800"] NPS.GOV[/caption]
This is a free walk-in campground operated by the National Park Service, open from May 1 through September 30. [caption id="attachment_8353" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Flickr - David Cohen[/caption]
Although reservations are not required, all campers wishing to stay overnight at Barlett Cove must first attend a 30-minute orientation, along with obtaining a permit, offered by request at the nearby Bartlett Cove Visitor Information Station. This is located close to the boat docks and Glacier Bay Lodge. [caption id="attachment_8349" align="aligncenter" width="800"] NPS.GOV[/caption]
This primitive campground is accessible only by foot. It does not have any modern amenities such as RV hookups, dump station, power, bathrooms, or vehicle parking spots. It does have bear-proof storage caches for food, a warming shelter and even a fire-pit filled with free firewood. There are also wheelbarrows located at the docks to help transport your supplies to your camping spot. [caption id="attachment_8359" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - mark byzewski[/caption]
Once you’ve settled in, you’ll be ready to explore. Kayaking in the area is a very popular way to cover a lot of ground. [caption id="attachment_8352" align="aligncenter" width="600"] NPS.GOV[/caption]
Explore over 800 miles of shoreline and even take advantage of a drop-off in other areas of the park by a Glacier Bay tour boat, or charter boat. [caption id="attachment_8362" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Matt Zimmerman[/caption]
Take a long walk on the rocky shoreline while viewing marine wildlife in the distance, or enjoy hiking on nearby trails such as the Forest Trail, or the Bartlett River and Bartlett Lake trails that wind throughout the Tongass National Forest. [caption id="attachment_8357" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Matt Zimmerman[/caption]
The one-mile-long Tlingit Trail offers cultural attractions including a native canoe, full whale skeleton and a magnificent dose of art at the Huna Tribal House. [caption id="attachment_8355" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - James McLarnan[/caption]
The Huna Tlingit carving that you’ll spot along the way is meant to “show the way” for travelers to Bartlett Cove from all around the world. [caption id="attachment_8356" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - mark byzewski[/caption]
The maximum length of stay at the Bartlett Cove Campground is 14 days so you have the opportunity to soak in many sunset views overlooking the Fairweather Range. We’re positive that you won’t regret one-moment of lost sleep. [caption id="attachment_8358" align="aligncenter" width="683"] Flickr - Michael Arrighi[/caption]
It’s undeniable that a trip to this off-the-grid destination is an absolute MUST when visiting Southeast Alaska. Make sure to do your research before you go. Be aware of current weather conditions, and pack supplies accordingly. [caption id="attachment_8354" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Fred von Lohmann[/caption]
For more information about camping at Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park, visit the official National Park Service website HERE.
If you enjoyed "Alaska Campsites - The Last Frontier & America's Best," check out Matanuska Glacier: Visiting One Of Alaska's Most Amazing & Easily Accessible Places. If you haven't already visited (and hiked) Flattop Mountain in Alaska's largest city of Anchorage, it's an incredibly scenic adventure! If you're looking for a good laugh, check out these 23 Hilariously Accurate Ways To Always Spot A Tourist In Alaska This Summer. If you are living and loving The Alaska Life – share your adventures with us on our Facebook page HERE, and they might just end up getting featured in one of our next blog posts.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Thanks for the great article. My daughter is a park ranger here and I truly enjoyed reading this and seeing your beautiful pictures.
Cheryl Davis April 17, 2021