Glaciers are some of the most awe-inspiring sights you can see in your travels, but many are melting fast due to climate change and natural changes. Still, it’s amazing how many far-flung destinations you can visit to see glaciers before they disappear.
If you have been reading the newspaper in the last couple of decades, you know that the world is in an ice crisis. In other words, many of our glaciers are shrinking due to increasing temperatures. Sadly, many of the ancient rivers of ice will be gone before long. If you want to get a glimpse of these frigid monsters, you’ll have to plan a glacier visit soon.
So where can you go to see glaciers? Read on to learn about the best glacier-viewing destinations.
Obviously, Antarctica is a great place to see ice! The Western Antarctic ice sheet is in the midst of what some scientists believe to be an unstoppable disintegration. While the giant crack in the shelf is visible from space, everything on ground level is still spectacular. Canada Glacier is a popular destination. Believe it or not, Antarctic tourism is actually a thing, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to do it! You can take a cruise to the Antarctic for as little as $6,000. Start saving!
Greenland’s Eqi Glacier is still advancing, unlike most glaciers in today’s world! Not only that, but it is also calving. Calving is the process in which huge chunks break off the end of a glacier and drop into the water, forming an iceberg. This glacier carved out a majestic fjord, which you can tour through to get very close to this icy monster.
Continental United States
Montana’s Glacier National Park is a great U.S. glacial destination. This park has 35 glaciers remaining, a severe decrease from a hundred and fifty years ago when the area’s glaciers were first counted. One of the best glaciers to visit here is Sperry Glacier. Another cool glacier to see in the United States is Blue Glacier in Washington’s Olympic Mountains.
Take a trip to the Quelccaya Ice Cap. You may not expect South America to be a great glacier-viewing destination, but it’s actually home to beautiful icy landscapes. It features the largest ice cap in the tropics, which you can explore as an alternative to the Inca Trail.
Another unexpected glacier destination is Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site in New Zealand. Fox and Franz Josef are low altitude glaciers, making them relatively easy hiking destinations. These glaciers are predicted to be around longer than most other glaciers, so you have plenty of time to visit and enjoy them.
South Georgia Island
Located near the inhospitable South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia Island is a starkly beautiful place to go glacier viewing. These islands off Antarctica will never be confused with the Sandwich Islands, which was the original name of Hawaii, but they are still stunning. The Harker Glacier is a sight that is worth the trip. This is not your typical island excursion!
The Pasterze Glacier in the Eastern Alps steals the spotlight, as far as Austrian glaciers go. It’s the longest glacier in the Eastern Alps, and in its ancient days it left behind perfect farming land for local settlers to use. This glacier is visibly diminishing, and although it is still stunning, it is far less glorious than it was a century ago.
As far a beauty goes, Jostedalsbreen Glacier deserves a crown. This gorgeous river of glistening ice is located between the fairytale slopes of Norway, and the sight of its incredible expanse is breathtaking. This glacier is the longest in continental Europe, and it is also fairly easy to visit.
Perito Moreno Glacier is thickening each year, so there is hope yet for this glacier. It is an incredibly dynamic glacier, moving forward and backward in cycles. Located in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentinian Patagonia, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one the easiest glaciers to visit. There are multiple viewpoints around the glacier and you can even trek out onto the surface of the glacier.
One of the most exciting glaciers to see in Alaska is Hubbard. This growing glacier offers an incredible natural spectacles as it sheds massive blocks of ice into the water below. There are multiple Alaskan cruises that allow passengers to view both the Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay. Another beautiful glacier to view is Margerie Glacier, a stable glacier on the Canada-Alaska border.
The easiest way to see glaciers in Canada is to take a trip to the eastern coast of Newfoundland. Here, the annual migration of icebergs through “Iceberg Alley” is a tradition for locals and tourists. The migrating icebergs are massive pieces of glaciers that have broken off into the cold ocean water.
Switzerland has countless glaciers, so you’ll have endless glacier-viewing opportunities when you visit. Take a tour through the Swiss Alps to see the major ones: La Cudera, Switzerland’s largest glacier; beautiful Aletsch Glacier, or the easily-accessible Rhone Glacier.
Iceland is a country of dangerous and beautiful things: waterfalls, volcanoes, and, of course, glaciers. Vatnajokull Glacier is the largest and most significant glaciers in Iceland, covering 8% of the island’s surface. This glacier is important to the overall ecosystem of Iceland, and it is also a major tourist attraction, as well as the backdrop for films and shows like Game of Thrones.
One of the highest glaciers in the world is situated in the Yunnan province. Here, you’ll find the soaring Yulong Glacier. Not only does this glacier provide the majority of the area’s water, it is also an incredible sight to behold. You can only visit it if you’re up for an extreme adventure, involving death-defying climbs and an oxygen mask.
Biafo Glacier near Karakoram is a popular destination for trekkers. The journey is difficult, with plenty of rough spots and heart-pounding drops. The end is worth it, though—the summit of the trail is Snow Lake, which lies next to upper Biafo Glacier and presents a breathtaking panorama.
One of the Himalayas’ most gorgeous sights is the Drang-Drung Glacier, a stunning river of ice that runs through the highest of the area’s peaks. It’s an easy glacier to reach; you can take a car practically right up to it. The best time to visit is in early summer, when the road is clear.
Mount Kilimanjaro is home to one of the most well-known glaciers in the world: Furtwangler. The ice capping Kilimanjaro is quickly disappearing, so if you want to witness this natural wonder, you better hurry. Scientists predict that it will be gone by the end of the decade.
You can’t really grasp the majesty and immensity of these towering glaciers from a photograph. You have to stand beside these natural monoliths to fully appreciate them. Start planning a trip now to see these amazing glaciers before they’re gone.