The small community of Gustavus is located in Southeast Alaska at the mouth of the Salmon River, on the north shore of Icy Strait, 48 miles northwest of Juneau. Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, it is 10 miles by road from Gustavus to Bartlett Cove within the park.
Surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park, Gustavus has a panoramic view of the majestic Fairweather Mountains and the Chilkat Range. Gustavus offers expansive sandy beaches, open land and forest. It is a small community with fishing, whale watching, kayaking, hiking, photography and flightseeing opportunities.
Homesteaded in 1914, as a small agricultural community, the area was once named Strawberry Point because of its abundant wild strawberries.
Today, residents work in tourism, scientific field studies, create and sell arts and crafts, fish (commercial and subsistence) and various other local trades.
Gustavus was incorporated as a city on April 1, 2004. It retains the charm of a small, remote village where people wave at strangers, ride bikes to get around, volunteer within the community and appreciate the area’s wildlife and natural beauty.
Besides its proximity to the national park, Gustavus offers a truly unique southeast Alaska experience. Cruise ships do not stop here, so independent travelers can experience Alaska without the crowds. The Gustavus shoreline offers 18 miles of wild sandy beach, ideal for beachwalking. Biking and bird watching are among the favorite activities to do. Guests and locals alike enjoy exploring Icy Strait, Point Adolphus, the Outer Coast, Glacier Bay and Pleasant Island.
The Glacier Bay National Park Visitor Center and the Huna Tribal House are open daily in Bartlett Cove from Memo- rial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Attractions include an outdoor exhibit of a 3,729-lb. whale skeleton, park information, films, exhibits and trip planning. Join a park ranger for daily guided walks, hikes and evening presentations. Check the schedules posted in town and at Glacier Bay Lodge.
The Nature Conservancy supports the Gustavus Forelands Preserve. Here you will find the Nagoonberry Loop trail, an easy 2.2 mile loop through forests and meadows to the Gustavus beach.
Visit the Gustavus Community Garden at the end of Bills Drive to see the homesteading produce of this region.
The gas station is a local attraction: the Gustavus Dray, a pre-WWII replica of a Mobil gas station that has a working 1937 Wayne 60 gas pump, a gift shop and a petroleum museum.
Sea kayaking companies provide kayak rentals and guided tours. These tours range in length from a few hours to many weeks.
Local charter boats—sometimes called “6 packs” because they carry about 6 passengers— are available for sportfishing (salmon, halibut and rock fish), sightseeing Icy Strait and Glacier Bay, and whale watching. ‘The Taz’ offers whale watching tours; phone 907-321-2302; www.tazwhalewatching.com. Whale sightings are almost guaranteed at nearby Point Adolphus. River fishing guides target salmon, Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout.
The Gustavus area is very flat and bike riding is a popular way to get around. (There’s a paved road in town.) Most inns offer bicycles for use by guests.
Lodging & Services
Accommodations in Gustavus range from full-service lodges and inns to vacation homes and bed-and-breakfasts. Lodges serve meals for guests and often feature local seafood. (Drop-in customers need reservations.)
Shop for locally-made treasures created by an amazing number of talented local artists. Painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers and woodcarvers fill local galleries, studios and shops with their unique work.
Gustavus has a post office; library with internet access; 4 churches; a K–12 school; 2 playgrounds, a general store with groceries and hardware; cafe; liquor store; 2 coffee shops; and a natural foods store.
Glacier Bay Lodge, located at Bartlett Cove, has a restaurant and lounge, and also operates the day boat trip into Glacier Bay. Bartlett Cove offers 1 of the 2 campgrounds in the Gustavus area; walk-in, tenting only.
Ferry: Alaska Marine Highway ferry service. Check current schedules at www.ferryalaska.com.
Air: Alaska Airlines daily jet flights from Juneau to Gustavus airport mid-June through mid-August. 2 year-round air taxis. Scheduled and charter service from Juneau, Sitka, Haines and Skagway to the Gustavus airport. Bus service between the airport and Bartlett Cove is available for arriving jet flights as is taxi service. Courtesy van service is available from many of the local accommodations.
Roads: Gustavus has less than 20 miles of paved roads.
Taxi: TLC Taxi, phone 907-697-2239; Strawberry Point Courierx, 907-209 8620 or 907-697 2150.
Rental Cars: Bud’s Rent-A-Car, phone 907-697-2403.
Boat Service: A catamaran day-boat tour of Glacier Bay National Park, operated by the park concession, departs from Bartlett Cove daily in summer. River fishing trips and saltwater charter boats are available in Gustavus for sightseeing/whale watching or fishing.