An Alaska cruise toward Hubbard Glacier feels like you’re approaching another planet in a tiny space craft. It is that big and that otherworldly. Among all the vanishing Alaska glaciers, Hubbard has a rapidly advancing ice margin— up to seven feet in one day—earning it the nickname, “the Galloping Glacier.”
Hubbard Glacier cruises are so popular because of the glacier’s three-story icebergs that cannon into crystal waters, a process called calving. It’s also colorful. On clear days, Hubbard turns a stunning deep blue and on cloudy ones, its many ripples and icebergs shimmer in soft light.
This glacier dwarfs the other glaciers in Alaska. It is the longest tidewater glacier in North America and starts 122 kilometers (76 miles) back, pouring down off the shoulder of Mt. Walsh. It has an impressive terminal face that is 11 kilometers (7 miles) long and 106 meters (350 feet) above the water line, making its regular audience of Alaska cruise ships look like toy boats.
It’s a giant, but it’s not sleeping. Hubbard Glacier is one of the few Alaska glaciers that’s advancing and not succumbing to climate change. It sounds uplifting, but many fear that the expanding glacier will block the entrance to the fjord.