The Aialik Glacier is one of several glaciers flowing from the 300-square-mile (770 sq. km) Harding Icefield to the shores of Aialik Bay. This environment has been entirely shaped by flowing ice. Its carved hillsides, scratched rock faces, shingle beaches, rounded mountains, and the succession of vegetation lines are the result of glaciers retreating over time. Named during a geological survey of the area in 1909, the glacier derives its name from the language of the Suqpiaq, a coastal Alaskan Native group. The term 'aya' means a special surprise, and 'lik' refers to a place. Suqpiaq is the ancestral name for the Alutiiq people.
Gulls and wading birds are found nesting on nearby Slate and Squab Islands, while harbor seals may be seen patrolling the ice-choked waters or hauled out, taking a break on ice floes. Keep scanning the beaches, as a grizzly bear may wander out of the brush at any moment -- and vanish just as quickly!