Most of the world’s biggest glaciers can be found in Alaska and Canada, but there are some other huge ones around the globe. These amazing river and mountains of ice are excellent locations for hikers and climbers to explore. They can be found next to snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear waters.
These are 6 of the most popular in the world:
1. New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier:
(photo credit: edwin11)
This magnificent glacier stretches for 7.5 miles on the South Island’s west coast. It sits in the Pacific Ocean below a lush green rainforest. The popular New Zealand tourist attraction is located just a few miles down the road from the charming Franz Josef Glacier Village and can easily be reached by hiking to it. However, many visitors prefer to take a helicopter ride which includes a guided tour through numerous ice tunnels.
2. Seward, Alaska, USA, Exit Glacier:
(photo credit: stublag)
It’s an energetic hike to reach the upper level of this fantastic inland glacier which sits in Kenai Fjords National Park. However, you can also take a more leisurely 30-minute stroll through the woods if you’d prefer to explore the lower part of the glacier. This rock of ice originated in the Harding Icefield and is an ideal place to feel katabatic winds. It takes about three hours to reach Seward from Anchorage by car.
The town is also home to the popular Alaska Sealife Center, where you can visit a Steller sea lion. Resurrection Bay is also a wonderful local attraction.
3. Norway, Jostedalsbreen National Park:
(photo credit: albertoabouganem)
The glacial area in Norway is relatively small when compared to Alaska’s, but Jostedalsbreen National Park is home to the largest glacier in the nation, which is named after the park. This is also the biggest mainland glacier in all of Europe. There are several arms of the glacier that are excellent for glacier trekking and hiking, including the Briksdalsbreen.
The Norwegian Glacier Museum is also located in the park and the Jostedalsbreen glacier offers spectacular scenery in Norway’s fjord-land. The Expedia website offers many hotel deals near the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
4. Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, Columbia Glacier:
(photo credit: nomadic_lass)
You’ll be able to drive most of the way to the Columbia Glacier, which lies in a long and beautiful fjord in Prince William Sound. But you’ll need to take a boat or plane to view it properly. The most scenic way is to take a boat trip from Valdez as this will enable you to get quite close to the face of the glacier and the nearby Chugach Mountain Range. On a good day you’ll also be able to see eagles, sea lions, whales, and several other types of marine animals.
5. Juneau, Alaska, USA, Mendenhall Glacier:
(photo credit: ckgolfsolutions)
There are about 55,000 square miles of glaciated ice up in Alaska with the Mendenhall Glacier being regarded as the most-visited of them all. The ice here is about 1,000 feet thick and stretches about a dozen miles from the huge Juneau Icefield. It’s believed the glacier took about 200 years to teach its present location, which is in a small lake near Juneau, the capital of Alaska.
It’s about a three-mile hike to reach the glacier from the visitor center and you’ll need crampons to get there and climb the ice. The glacier is believed to be retreating about 500 every year, which means the hike to it is longer year after year.
6. Alaska, USA, Denali National Park Glaciers:
(photo credit: barahir)
While Alaska’s Mount McKinley is North America’s biggest mountain it’s not the home of the biggest glaciers. The mountain is located in Denali National Park and there are several large glaciers here in the valleys next to the mountain. Hikers and climbers can have a field day here exploring the numerous ice rivers. There’s also a small sightseeing plane which takes you on a 2-hour trip and it lands on one of the glaciers for a short visit.