The town is best known as the gateway to Glacier Bay. The small community (population 450) is located at the mouth of the Salmon River, on the north shore of Icy Strait just 50 miles northwest of Juneau. Incorporated in 2004, the city of Gustavus has a mayor and city council. Many residents are self employed in tourism and service/retail businesses, as well as fishing, power generation and aviation. Glacier Bay National Park employs over half of the residents of Gustavus. Others work for the state or for the Chatham School District.
In the past early settlers called the town Strawberry Point. The U.S. Postal Service renamed the town in 1925. The first successful homestead patent was issued in 1923, although settlers were present here as early as 1917. Historically, the area was used by the Tlingit people for seasonal harvesting and smoking of salmon.
The town encompasses 29.2 square miles of land and 10 square miles of water. The area's maritime climate is characterized by cool summers and mild winters. Summer temperatures range from 52 to 63 degrees; winter temperatures range from 26 to 39.
The geology of the area was influenced by glaciers and ocean. As the glaciers that covered the area 200 years ago have receded, the land in Gustavus has risen quickly – over an inch each year. Land that once was within the tidal zone is now high and dry. Where grasses once predominated, spruce trees now tower.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
There is no road leading into Gustavus from outside Glacier Bay National Park.
- 1 Gustavus Airport (GST IATA). Fields semi-regular flights to Juneau with several minor airlines, as well as a seasonal Alaska Airlines route to Seattle via Juneau. Alaska Airlines flies daily in summer from Juneau to Gustavus Airport. Air taxis run scheduled and charter flights from Juneau, Sitka, Haines and Skagway.
- See also: Alaska Marine Highway
The Alaska Marine Highway began serving Gustavus at a new stimulus-bill funded new dock, on November 23, 2010. There is also a small boat harbor that has primitive privately maintained floats.
Gustavus has only one main road, linking it with Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park.
Gustavus has a city hall, medical clinic, fire department, library, restaurants, churches, a grocery, taxi service, rental cars, a city park, a nine-hole golf course and a small boat harbor. The state-funded Gustavus School serves about 50 students in grade K through 12.
- Wild Alaska Charters, ☏ . You can cruise aboard Wild Alaska Charters to Point Adolphus for an unforgettable whale watching experience, hike through an old growth rain forest or kayak through wilderness waters and see magnificent glaciers, whales, bears, sea otters and bald eagles. Explore Southeast Alaska underwater world during Wild Alaska's exclusive diving expeditions. You can also enjoy world class fishing, with all necessary fishing equipment and bait provided. Your guide is an experienced commercial fisherman and US Coast Guard certified charter boat operator.
Both the Glacier Bay Country Inn and Gustavus Inn have restaurants.
- Glacier Bay Country Inn, toll-free: . Open from Mid-May to mid-September. Glacier Bay Country Inn offers accommodations, full service gourmet restaurant, gift shop, 150 acre property, bike rides, fishing excursions, and tour guide services. The restaurant has been featured on the national television show "Country Inn Cooking" with Gail Greco on PBS, while the Inn has been showcased in publications such as Food and Wine, Travel Age West, Saveur, and Bon Appetit.
- Gustavus Inn at Glacier Bay, One Mile Gustavus Road (One mile from airport, dock), toll-free: . Open Mid-May to Mid-September. The building is a historic homestead, completely updated, where the Lesh family has been hosting Glacier Bay National Park visitors since 1965 through 3 generations. Glacier Bay National Park day boat tours, guided and unguided kayaking and saltwater charter fishing, as well as trip planning and air charters will be made by your hosts giving you the best, most efficient trip for your party. 14 rooms and a large kitchen garden are complemented by the ocean harvest family style meals. Wild edibles show off the bounty of our area. A hearth room, naturalist library, fleet of bikes, and homestead grounds provide a home away from home on the edge of the wilderness. Dining is offered to the public by reservation nightly during the summer. Seafood menus feature Icy Strait salmon, halibut, dungeness crab and sablefish. There is also a six stool bar open for dining patrons. By one day advance reservation only. Call ahead, limited availability for those not staying at Gustavus Inn.
Cell phone coverage is spotty, constrained by heavy tree cover, but dial-up, satellite, cell phone modems and some broadband LAN allow access to the Internet. (The Gustavus Library is a free hot spot.)