Alaska’s capital is a gateway to some of the area’s most spectacular and accessible sights. Walk on ice fields, witness mammoth glaciers and catch sight of humpback whales.
Visit Juneau, in Alaska’s southeast, to experience astonishing natural formations, mountainside trails through wild forests and a 1,500-square-mile (3,9000-square-kilometer) ice field.
Of all the incredible sights in and around Juneau, the area’s many ice glaciers are a standout. One of the most impressive of these is the Mendenhall Glacier, which is only 12 miles (19 kilometers) from downtown Juneau. Drive to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for stunning views of the glacier as well as educational programs for adults and children.
From the visitor center take one of the easily accessible trails for a chance to spot salmon and bears or hike via the East Glacier Loop to an overlook closer to the glacier. Another option is the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) Nugget Falls Trail which ends at the base of the broad and dramatic Nugget Falls.
Get even closer to the glaciers by taking one of the daily cruises that travel up through the Tracy Arm Fjord to the South Sawyer Glacier. Look out for seals, which bask on floating ice throughout the area.
Take a helicopter tour up to the Juneau Ice Field, which lies to the north of town. This 1,500-square-mile (3,900-square-kilometer) area of solid ice spans entire valleys. Walk over the thick plane with a tour guide and peer down into gaping crevasses, which cut deep into the ice.
Board a whale-watching boat to see more of the area’s wildlife. From April to November, around 600 humpback whales live within the Inside Passage. Also, keep an eye out for orcas which feed on seals in the area.
Juneau can be reached by plane or through one of the many cruise lines that visit the area. You can also arrive by car, but you will have to take a ferry from one of several ports in Washington or British Columbia. The ferry travels through the Inside Passage and provides beautiful views of the countryside to the south of Juneau. It is best to visit between April and November, when the weather is mild and Juneau’s spectacular offerings can be best enjoyed.