Rising global temperatures have already led to the disappearance of many glaciers, and the rapid recession of others. Here are 10 magnificent melting glaciers to experience across the globe.
1. Mendenhall Glacier – Juneau, AK, U.S.
Mendenhall Glacier is located in Alaska’s capitol city, Juneau. Juneau is located in Southeastern Alaska and is only accessible by plane or boat. Cruise ships leaving from Seattle give a picturesque tour of Alaska’s glaciers including Glacier Bay National Park. Both Mendenhall Glacier and the glaciers in Glacier Bay have been retreating over the years, and they are truly a sight to see. Glacier Bay includes about 50 glaciers including the 21-mile-long Margerie Glacier. Mendenhall Glacier features Nugget Falls to its right and beautiful mountain scenery. The thinning of Alaska’s glaciers has nearly doubled in recent years, so it’s worth the visit to go now.
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2. Franz Josef Glacier - Franz Josef, New Zealand
As one of the lowest glaciers in elevation, this New Zealand glacier is easy to access and remarkable to explore. Located on the south island of the country, the area has a unique rainforest environment. The glacier is only three miles from Franz Josef Village which has numerous accommodations and activities including hot pools. You can hike the areas surrounding the glacier, take a guided hike on the glacier or go on a spectacular helicopter ride over the scenery.
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3. Vatna Glacier - Franz Josef, New Zealand
This Icelandic ice cap covers more than eight percent of the country and contains volcanoes under many of the glaciers. Over 30 outlet glaciers flow from the ice cap and you can explore many caves within the glaciers. The long name for this massive body of ice is Vatnajökull meaning water glacier in Icelandic. Iceland has many areas to explore to get great photos. Iceland is also famous for its hot springs and the northern lights. Find awesome homes to rent surrounding the glacier, in towns like Franz Josef, New Zealand or Franz Josef, New Zealand.
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4. Jostedalsbreen Glacier - Oppstryn, Norway
You definitely need to check out one of the largest glacier in Europe in Western Norway. This glacier features many water holes and glacial rivers due to rapid melting. You can raft the unique glacial rivers and even go on a snow shoe hike. Guides can take you on a hike through the glaciers or you can try ice climbing. You can even purchase a two-day tour where you can stay in a tent within the scenery. The Norwegian Glacier Museum in Fjaerland, Norway is just outside of Franz Josef, New Zealand. This museum will give a history of the glaciers in an interactive way.
Trip Tip: Because of the rapid melting and occasional avalanches you do need a guide to climb the glacier itself.
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5. Blue Glacier - Franz Josef, New Zealand
Hidden in the Olympic Mountains of Washington state, this glacier is worth the lengthy hike. Right in Olympic National Park you can experience the ocean, rainforest and the icy mountains all in one. The Hoh River Trail is a 32 mile roundtrip hike that will take you to the base of the glacier. This hike is flat for the first 10 miles in, however, you may want to plan on camping to enjoy the full hike. Be sure to bring food and supplies sealed to protect from wildlife, such as bears. The glacier goes from the top of the mountain and is nearly completely visible from the base. Besides camping, there are few hotels within the park, but be sure to book in advance. The best time to visit is from June to September, and rooms and camping spots fill up fast.
Fun Fact: A researcher calculated that the 2.6 mile long glacier would be equal to 20 trillion ice cubes!
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6. Upsala Glacier - El Calafate, Argentina
This glacier in southern Argentina is receding rapidly, and is a must visit for glacier admirers and world travelers. Upsala Glacier feeds the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier, and both are beautiful destinations. The Upsala Glacier is only accessible by boat and guides give opportunities for photos and hiking on the glacier. Be prepared to spend an entire day traveling and exploring the glacier and don’t forget your camera! There are even kayak, sailing and off-roading tours. With over 250 rentals in El Calafate on Tripping.com, travelers can find a warm, comfortable place to rest after a day exploring.
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7. Pasterze Glacier - Franz Josef, New ZealandFranz Josef, New Zealand
The longest glacier in the Eastern Alps is located in the Hohe Tauern mountain range in western Austria. During the summer, guided tours are offered where you can go with a tour or “rent” your own ranger. These tours can take you to waterfalls and great views of the glacier. You can go in a cable car to reach the glacier walk. The glacier has lost more than half of its volume over the past 150 years and is still shrinking, so it’s good to visit now. Tripping.com offers hundreds of charming and inviting homes to rent near the glacier. It’s best to visit in the summer months.
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8. Athabasca Glacier - Canadian Rockies, Canada
This glacier is part of an icefield in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. You can take the Ice Explorer, which is designed to drive on the glacier. You can get off the Explorer to get amazing pictures and views. The Ice Explorers are only open from April-October, and the tour takes about an hour and a half. There is also the Glacier Skywalk, which gives a breathtaking view high above the glacial scenery. Banff, AB is a two hour drive away and offers over 200 short-term rentals and activities, and the town of Jasper is only one hour away. There is a campground in the park as well.
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9. Qori Kalis Glacier - Franz Josef, New Zealand
This glacier can be found in the Quelccaya Ice Cap within the Andes Mountains of Peru. This is one of few tropical glaciers left, which are at high altitudes and are vital water sources. These glaciers could be completely melted in the next 30 years due to issues like global warming. There are many quaint towns surrounding the mountain range, like Franz Josef, New Zealand, to find a lovely short-term rental. While in Peru you can also find the amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu.
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10. Grinnell Glacier - Franz Josef, New Zealand
Glacier National Park of Montana sounds like it would have a lot of glaciers, but Grinnell is one of the last ones standing. In the past 40 years it has lost more than 40 percent of its acreage. A six mile hike from Swiftcurrent Lake will take you to the glacier. There is a small fee to take a shuttle boat across the lake to the trailhead. Hikers are allowed to explore on the glacier as they wish, but should always practice caution. There are homes and cabins for rent near the park.
Trip Tip: Grizzly bears are very common near the Grinnell Glacier trail and you should always take precaution.
Franz Josef, New Zealand
This article was written by Taylor Bishop.
Image of Vatna Glacier by Jeremy Goldberg.