The Holgate glacier flows for three miles (5 km) through the rugged mountains of Kenai National Park. Its origin is in the 300 square miles (770 sq. km) of the Harding Icefield, the largest icefield contained entirely within the United States. The glacier transports huge boulders and debris on its surface, and as it reaches the ocean it becomes heavily crevassed.
A day's sail from the town of Seward, this tidewater glacier is a popular destination for those in search of a spectacular ice experience. Its calving events echo off the steep fjord walls like the sound of distant thunder, blanketing the surface of the surrounding waters with crystal-blue brash ice. Seals and seabirds are often seen searching among the floating ice for their next meal in the nutrient-rich waters.
Holgate Glacier is named for Thomas F. Holgate, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts of Northwestern University. It was named during a geological survey of Alaska conducted between 1908 and 1911.