Juneau Icefield

June 24, 2014 No Comments

Beyond downtown, Juneau’s vast environs are nothing short of breathtaking, offering endless opportunities for exploration on more than 250 miles of hiking trails that range in difficulty from simple to strenuous. The 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield is an expanse of interconnected glaciers to the north of Juneau in the surrounding mountain range. The glistening sheets of ice and snow are an abrupt transition from the greenery of the rainforest below.

Juneau’s most famous glacier, Mendenhall Glacier, is located 13 miles (about a 20-minute drive) north of downtown. The 1.5-mile-wide meandering river of ice stretches over 12 miles from the icefield to Mendenhall Lake. An information center features interpretive exhibitions, while a large viewing platform affords outstanding views of the expansive natural phenomenon.

Mendenhall is one of the most visited glaciers in the world—largely due to its ease of access. Of the 38 glaciers in the Juneau Icefield, Mendenhall is the only one reachable by road; visitors can drive, hike, or bike right up to its base. Helicopter and floatplane tours visit more remote glaciers, soaring above lush forests, glassy alpine lakes, jagged peaks, and intriguing rock formations before touching down so participants can explore the crevasses and tunnels that mark the ancient frozen landscape.

The Juneau Whale Watching Cruise and Mendenhall Glacier Exploration is a great way to see it for yourself. Discover Juneau’s spectacular natural splendors as you board a water-jet-powered catamaran in search of whales before exploring the massive Mendenhall Glacier. Enjoy complimentary binoculars and snacks as you pass snowcapped peaks and islands dotting picturesque Stephens Passage. Look out for humpback and orca whales, sea lions, and bald eagles while learning about their behaviors from your guide. Visit the 12-mile-long Mendenhall Glacier, where you can roam its towering waterfalls and scenic riverbanks.


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