Alaska sea kayaking Icy Bay trip
Welcome to the Icy Bay sea kayaking trip in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. I am always keen to return to this area and explore this geographic phenomenon again. We fly in to Icy Bay from Yakutat, Southeast Alaska, and enjoy world class sea kayaking. The Icy Bay area afford us some nice day hiking options and sea kayaking as well. This is one Alaska vacation experience you'll not forget!
- - Accommodations at Icy Bay Lodge
- - Rtn flight from Yakutat, AK to Icy Bay
- - 6 nights, 5 full days world class sea kayaking
- - Views of Mt. St. Elias, 2nd highest peak in AK
- - Unbeatable camping, wildlife and scenery
- - Glaciers and Icebergs
- - Small private group
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Icy Bay was labelled one of the 10 treasures of the world by National Geographic, and truly lives up to its reputation. We'll explore the Taan Fjord, sea kayaking and hiking right up to the base of Mt. St. Elias, 18 008' tall, rising right from the ocean. The Saint Elias mountain range is the worlds tallest coastal mountain range, and the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking. We'll get great views of 4 glaciers, the Guyot, Yahtse and Tyndall Glaciers being the most prominent.
Icy Bay is one of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park's least visited areas, and also one of Alaska's best kept secrets. Few visitors venture here, yet the place offers simply superb, second-to-none, sea kayaking. The sea kayaking here is simply amongst the best in the world; paddle up close to the giant, calving glaciers, the countless icebergs, various species of marine mammals, myriad different sea birds, are all on hand, while the world's tallest coastal mountain and mountain range tower above the entire scene. Enjoy all this with the very strong probability that you won't encounter another human being the whole time. You'll likely see grizzly bear tracks in the sand along the beach long before you see any human footprints!
One reason Icy Bay is such a great sea kayaking location is the distinct and very noticeable absense of cruise ships. None of the major cruise liners venture into the Bay, which makes the area very different from many of Alaska's other more popular sea kayaking destinations. A shallow sand strip near the mouth of the bay has so far continued to keep the area free of these monstrosities, and we're able to enjoy this incredible place in relative solitude. In 2013 the only other vessel we saw in the entire week was a small private sailboat that drifted nearby for a few hours.
100 years ago these glaciers came right out to the ocean shore, and it's only been in recent years that this area has opened up, with the narrow fjord developing as the glaciers retreated. The Taan Fjord still shows on maps as ice covered! The calm, protected pristine waters of these fjords make classic Alaska sea kayaking; even in inclement weather we're usually able to get out and paddle. We can venture up the various fjords towards the glaciers, hike the shore lands and poke around the glaciers as we explore this very dynamic area.
Icy Bay is a great bird watching area, and we'll see an array of ducks, sea birds, shore birds and raptors. Bald eagles are common, as are falcon as well. Both marbled and the endangered Kittlitz's murrelets are found in Icy Bay. Harbor Seals come into the bay as well, hunting salmon, which are always a treat to see. With an estimated population in the bay of over 3500 seals, you'll more than likely see quite a few! This is one of the few areas where they're rarely bothered by orcas, so they're often very visible in the calm waters, as well as loafing around, soaking up the sun resting on the icebergs. June/early July is birthing time, so it's possible you'll see some cute seal pups as well. If we're lucky, we'll also see mountain goats as well. Grizzly bears are abundant in the area, and it's likely that we'll see them as well.
This is rated as an easy trip, and we offer a flexible itinerary to accommodate you/your group. The best options combine a few days sea kayaking with some hiking, beach camping, exploring and relaxing in one of the most impressive landscapes anywhere. We can either basecamp and enjoy paddling different fjords each day, or, for the adventurous, pack up and move camp each day to a new location.
We'll also possibly charter a boat ride out of Yakutat, up Disenchantment Bay to see the Hubbard Glacier and Russell Fjord. The Hubbard Glacier is known as 'the world's most calvingest glacier', and there's a great possibility of getting to witness the spectacle of enormous chunks of ice crashing down from the glacier into the ocean - an amazing sight. We'll plan this trip for mid-June, but it's really a good option anytime in June and July. This is becoming a very popular trip; camping on the beach, paddling, hiking, swimming, photography, and some of the most spectacular landscapes in Alaska; classic coastal terrain.
One possible extension is to include a short basecamp/dayhike or backpacking trip in the nearby Samovar Hills - see the Custom and exploratory trips page for details. The Samovar Hills are a relatively little visited region of the park that offer more stunning views of the St. Elias mountain range.
2014 - this year we'll be kayaking Icy Bay June 24 - 30, and then flying over to the nearby Samovar Hills and Malaspina Glacier for a backpack/basecamp/hike July 30 - Aug 3. Feel free to join either of these legs, or give me a yell for a great deal on the whole amazing trip!
How it works
Depending on the exact trip itinerary and extension options you'd prefer, we depart from Yakutat to Icy Bay, or possibly from McCarthy. We'll fly in to Icy Bay, grab lunch at the Icy Bay Lodge, catch a 30 minute shuttle via ferry boat to our basecamp location deeper in the bay, and set up camp. That afternoon we spend some time in a nearby inlet, the perfect place to work on some basic sea kayaking boat safety protocols, and get comfortable with the boats and the water. Once you're good to go, we'll head for deeper waters.
We then have 4 full days paddling, hiking, photographing, camping by the beach, where we enjoy a nightly fire and great food. Paddling adventures will takes us across the bay, and up the various fjords and passages of the bay. We'll try to get up close to the various glaciers and icebergs, but must treat them all with respect; water in the bay can easily reach depths of 300 feet!
The final day we pack up camp and catch our shuttle back to the Lodge, where we can shower and enjoy the comforts of one of the finest backcountry lodges in Alaska. We have dinner and breakfast there, before our flight back to Yakutat/McCarthy the following day.
Sea Kayaking Trip Video
Sea Kayaking Trip Facts and Details; Logistics, etc
Sea Kayaking Trip Price
$2600, per person. Deposit of 50% required to confirm your reservation.
- Return private chartered bush flight from Yakutat -> Icy Bay (or McCarthy -> Icy Bay)
- 5 nights camping in Icy Bay
- 1 night in a first class lodge (dinner, lunch and breakfast included)
- Single Kayak or Tandem boats available
- Safety gear, such as PFDs, etc
- Sat phone
- Bear Resistant Food Canisters for food storage, etc
- Cook tent for the kitchen, etc
- All standard items - see also "What's included" here.
Sea Kayaking Trip Extensions
There are various possibilities to extend the trip. We can head to the nearby Samovar hills for a multi-day hike, or the Lost Coast for a backpack/packraft trip, or cross over the mighty St. Elias Mountains and combine this trip with one of the backpacking/basecamp trips in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, such as Iceberg Lake - Bremner Mines. For a challenging adventure, we can grab our backpacks and traverse across the mighty Malaspina Glacier in an honestly epic adventure. Not for the meek!!! We can, if you're interested, also extend the Icy Bay sea kayaking portion of the trip to more thoroughly explore every nook and cranny of this amazing place!
Another option is to packraft Icy Bay, instead of sea kayaking. Packrafts are smaller, and soft-sided inflatable boats, so they'll be slower at getting around the bay and the fjords, but they're a lot of fun, a little more stable in the flat water, more portable if we want to do some adventurous hiking and float a river back to the bay, and a little cheaper as well! Inquire for details.
Day trip extensions might include a day up to the Hubbard Glacier, near Yakutat, or an amazing flight seeing and photography trip in the amazing St. Elias Mountains.
More info on this trip?