Photo: Sebastien Coell/Shutterstock

30 of the Most Picturesque Glaciers Around the Globe

by Joe Batruny Aug 19, 2014

Freezing temperatures and precipitation mix to create one of nature’s most impressive art forms. Found from Mexico to the Himalayas, from East Africa to Tierra del Fuego, glaciers exist in various forms and colors — ice caps, ice fields, ice sheets, ice shelves, and ice streams in all shades of blue and white.

99% of the glacial ice on Earth is found within the ice sheets in our polar regions. What about the remaining 1%? They’re scattered around every continent but Australia.

Unfortunately, the majority of glaciers have been receding rapidly since 1850 due to global temperature changes. Check out 30 of the most picturesque glaciers around the planet to find your inspiration and get going before they disappear.

Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland

Photo: Michal Balada/Shutterstock

10% of Greenland’s icebergs are produced by the Jakobshavn Glacier. Many of the icebergs (like that pictured above) are of massive proportion, reaching a kilometer in height.

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Photo: jjaf/Shutterstock

Located 12 miles from Juneau, Alaska’s capital, Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles long. More experienced climbers can ascend into the ice caves beneath the glacier. 

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Photo: Tetyana Dotsenko/Shutterstock

One of the most visited attractions in Argentine Patagonia, the Perito Moreno Glacier is a short drive from El Calafate and is the third-largest reserve of fresh water in the world.

Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

Photo: DCrane/Shutterstock

Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier measures 27 miles in length and four miles in width, making it the largest glacier in the United States accessible by car.

Biafo Glacier, Pakistan

Photo: Lian Deng/Shutterstock

Situated in the mountains of Pakistan, the Biafo Glacier is the world’s third-longest glacier outside of the polar regions, at 42 miles long.

Kaskawulsh Glacier, Canada

Photo: Michael Clewley/Shutterstock

The Kaskawulsh Glacier flows into the Yukon Territory’s Kluane Lake, with 80% of the glacier’s meltwater reaching the lake. The remaining 20% flows into the Pacific Ocean via the Kaskawulsh and Alsek Rivers.

Pastoruri Glacier, Peru

Photo: Noradoa/Shutterstock

The Pastoruri Glacier, located in the Andes, is popular with tourists, snowboarders, and ice climbers. 22% of Peruvian glaciers’ surface area has disappeared over the past 30 years.

Grey Glacier, Chile

Photo: Scott Biales Ditch the Map/Shutterstock

Part of the South Patagonian Ice Field and found in Torres del Paine National Park, the Grey Glacier (seen from space in the image above) flows into Grey Lake. The glacier measures 30 meters high and six kilometers wide. 

Vatnajökull, Iceland

Photo: Karetnikava Lizaveta/Shutterstock

Vatnajökull is the most voluminous glacier in Iceland—it covers over 8% of the entire country. The average thickness of the glacial ice is 1,300 feet.

Margerie Glacier, Alaska

Photo: YueStock/Shutterstock

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, Alaska’s Margerie Glacier is a tidewater glacier that measures 21 miles long. A study of Glacier Bay’s geology reported that the glacier contains significant copper deposits.

Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland

Photo: Sebastien Coell/Shutterstock

Aletsch is the largest glacier in the European Alps, covering over 46 square miles. The surrounding Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Photo: Dominik Robellaz/Shutterstock

Icelandic for “island mountain glacier,” Eyjafjallajökull is one of Iceland’s smaller ice caps, which covers the caldera of a volcano (often resulting in the glacier being covered in ash). The volcano last erupted in 2010.

Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Photo: AlmostViralDesign/Shutterstock

Found in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, Fox Glacier is fed by four alpine glaciers. In contrast with most glaciers, Fox Glacier has been advancing since 1985. 

Saskatchewan Glacier, Canada

Photo: Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

Known for its blue-green glacial-fed lakes, Alberta’s Banff National Park is home to the Sakwatchewan Glacier. The glacier is the main source of water for the North Saskatchewan River.

Midui Glacier, Tibet

Photo: kesterhu/Shutterstock

Midui Glacier is located in Tibet’s Yupu Township. The elevation of the glacier’s main peak is over 22,000 feet. It was only opened to tourists in 2007.

Glacier du Géant, France

Photo: Michele Vacchiano/Shutterstock

The Glacier du Géant is found on the French side of the Mont Blanc. The glacier feeds the Mer de Glace (“sea of ice”), which is the longest glacier in France.

Skaftafellsjökull, Iceland

Photo: Pedro Carrilho/Shutterstock

Found in Skaftafell, a preservation area and national park in southeast Iceland, Skaftafellsjökull has receded significantly in recent years but remains a sight to see.

San Rafael Glacier, Chile

Photo: Steve Allen/Shutterstock

The San Rafael Glacier in southern Chile juts 200+ feet out over the water. Visitors can witness it up close on a cruise, or get an even closer look via motorized inflatable boat.

Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

Photo: Tsuguliev/Shutterstock

One of Antarctica’s many glaciers, Pine Island Glacier is a remote ice stream. The nearest frequently occupied research station is Rothera, which is over 800 miles away. No country claims the area. 

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Photo: Luis Boucault/Shutterstock

Hubbard Glacier is located in eastern Alaska and part of Canada’s Yukon Territory. North America’s largest tidewater glacier, Hubbard measures 76 miles long by seven miles wide.

Victoria Glacier, Canada

Photo: Tomas Nevesely/Shutterstock

Victoria Glacier sits above Lake Louise in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The color of the lake is derived from rock flour deposited into the lake by glacial meltwater.

Surprise Glacier, Alaska

Photo: Gonzalo Buzonni/Shutterstock

The Surprise Glacier is part of Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. The glacier is known for being an extraordinary site to witness glacier calving.

Yulong Glacier, China

Photo: Lu Yang/Shutterstock

Known as Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in English, the Yulong Glacier reaches an elevation of 12,000 feet.

Upsala Glacier, Argentina

Photo: Ivan Vieito Garcia/Shutterstock

Located in Los Glaciares National Park, the Upsala Glacier is also part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field. The glacier feeds the better-known Perito Moreno Glacier.

Nigardsbreen, Norway

Photo: Jennifer Ventura Martil/Shutterstock

Nigardsbreen is an arm of Norway’s much larger Jostedalsbreen, located in Jostedalsbreen National Park. Sizeable ice caves can be found underneath the Nigardsbreen glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Photo: Fotos593/Shutterstock

Located in the same national park as Fox Glacier, Franz Josef sits 12 miles to the north. It has gone through a cyclical pattern of advance and retreat in the recent past.

Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan

Photo: World Explorers/Shutterstock

The Baltoro Glacier is found in Pakistan’s mountainous region of Baltistan. The glacier flows into the Shigar River.

Pasterze Glacier, Austria

Photo: Santi Rodriguez/Shutterstock

Pasterze Glacier is the longest in Austria, measuring 5.2 miles in length. But not for long—the glacier decreases in length by roughly 33 feet each year. 

Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal

Photo: Michal Holecek/Shutterstock

The Ngozumpa Glacier is the Himalayas’ longest, sitting beneath Cho Oyu (the sixth-highest mountain in the world). The glacier, which flows rather slowly, deposits into a meltwater lake named Spillway.

Furtwängler Glacier, Tanzania

Photo: Andy Udall/Shutterstock

Furtwängler Glacier sits at Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit. A striking casualty of climate change, the glacier is expected to melt completely by 2020. 

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