Tracy Arm Fjord
Located about 45 miles south of the port city and state capital of Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord has become a very popular stop along the Alaskan cruise route.
Many cruises include a stop at Tracy Arm and its twin North and South Sawyer Glacier, either as a compliment to viewing at College Fjord or as a replacement for Glacier Bay as the sole glacier viewing stop on a round-trip Inside Passage cruise out of Seattle (or sometimes out of Vancouver).
The Fjord itself is utterly spectacular and worth the trip in its own right. At some 30 miles in length (about 6 of which are covered in glacier), the Fjord has magnificent, steep cliffs running along much of its length, often covered with lush trees and shrubs.
Waterfalls intermittently plunge off the cliffs and into the waters of the Fjord below, making for a seemingly endless number of photo opportunities as you head along its length.
Of course it is the twin Sawyer Glaciers that are the true draw for the cruise ships, and they are quite spectacular too.
They are both actively calving glaciers, meaning that they continually break off in chunks of ice which the plunge into the water below in an amazing cloud of shredded ice. It’s the calving that everyone waits for, and it always draws the “oohs” and “ahhs” from everyone on board.
As with the other glacier viewing locations in coastal Alaska, you need to be prepared when you visit Tracy Arm Fjord in order to really be comfortable and enjoy the experience. This means dressing in layers and also having some sort of waterproof coat with you to wear on deck. The weather in the Fjord, as it is elsewhere in this region, is incredibly fickle, often damp, and can switch quite rapidly from clouds and overcast to sunshine and then back to drizzle.
A question that often arises with regards to Tracy Arm is whether it is as “nice as” Glacier Bay or the other glacier viewing spots like the Sawyer Glacier. While it really is hard to compare anywhere else with Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm does hold its own in terms of sheer natural beauty and “wow” factor.
The main difference is that there are more glaciers in Glacier Bay and the calving glaciers there are the most active, on average. In addition, part of what makes that area so unique are the truly massive peaks that form its backdrop.
All that being said, you will not be disappointed with Tracy Arm. It is a magnificent place with beauty and charms all its own, and the glaciers are quite amazing too.
If your cruise does not stop here, you can also catch flightseeing trips here from Juneau during a port stop there, giving you one more chance to view glaciers in action. And from the air, the Sayer Glaciers are all the more impressive.