"Juneau.. Haven't heard much about Juneau."
Written by: Jacques
Well Ketchikan was awesome but it was time to hop back on the ferry and head up the Alaskan South East towards our next destination. Juneau here we go. The Ferry ride involved a ridiculous number of whale sightings and more wildlife and postcard moments than I can remember. Then.. early the next morning a strange white block seemed to be taking shape in the horizon. "What is that?" I remember asking myself.
That giant block of white.. well that my friends is a glacier. Another truly Alaskan experience to tick off the list.
The glacier I was looking at was Mendenhall Glacier, it is one of 616 officially named glaciers. That's a lot right.. hahaha.. well if we take into account all of the unnamed glaciers, Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers.
Roughly 10% of the earths land area is taken up by Glaciers, during the last Ice Age 32% Glaciers.
The glaciers of Alaska empty 75 gigatons (billions of litres) of fresh water into the oceans every year.
Alaska's largest Glacier is the Bering Glacier, it measures over 190km's in length.
Now the Glacier were visiting was the Mendenhall Glacier at a modest 21.9km's long and is retreating fast due to Global Warming.
Where and How do I get to the Mendenhall Glacier?
The Mendenhall Glacier is actually very close to the town of Juneau so if you were really game you could hike from the town up to the glacier. I would recommend getting there via hire car though. here
You can hire a car from; Avis Alaska, Hertz or Alamo rent a Car. We used a local company, Juneau Car Rental. You are looking at roughly US$60 a day. If hire car's are out of your budget you could catch the Mendenhall Glacier shuttle for US$45. If that is still out of your budget your going to have to hitchhike or get your jogging legs on.
If you have hired a car you probably need to know some directions right... Now although Juneau is the capital city of Alaska, it is tiny. This means directions are very simple. From wherever you pick up your car, make your way onto Mendenhall Loop Road(if you can't find it there is something seriously wrong with your nav). Follow the road to Glacier Spur Road. Follow Glacier Spur road to the top carpark. The Information centre and trailheads will be in front of you.
What to do at the glacier?
I will start by mentioning that the facilities are amazing and the conservation team at Mendenhall Glacier do an exceptional job!
If you are after FREE activities the area has several hikes for all abilities. To decide on the right hike for you just as at the information centre. You will see it as soon as you get to the carpark. I would definitely recommend checking out Nugget Falls at the very least.
There is an endless list of paid activities that you can book while you are in Juneau. They include; kayak tours, Heli Tours, Glacial walking and Bear viewing. You can book through a huge array of companies, trust me they will find and hound you first. Be careful not to get ripped off though. Juneau Tours are a reliable company CLICK HERE for some information and pricing. If you are going during June, July or August be sure to book in advance.
Where should I eat and drink?
Want some Alaskan seafood? Of course you do it is the best I have ever tasted! Check out Tracy's King Crab Shack and if you want to try some amazing beer check out Hangar on the Wharf.
For coffee be sure to look up The Rookery Cafe, it is the best coffee in Juneau for sure.
I guess I need a place to sleep?
It get's cold at night. Colder than most towns due to the chill that emanates from the huge lump of ice (Mendenhall Glacier) just 20km's away. So be sure to find somewhere warm or if you are camping make sure you have the right equipment for cold conditions.
We stayed at Auke Lake Bed and Breakfast, it was amazing and the views were stunning. We were very well looked after but we definitely had to pay a little more for the luxury.
There are several hotels in town if that is your preference.
If you are on a budget and after a backpackers check out Juneau Hostel at only $12 a night it's a bargain. But be aware you are also assigned a chore to complete per day.
Juneau was such an awesome town and I wish we had more than 2 days at this incredible little paradise. Before our flight to Anchorage we managed to go check out a local secret spot, Eagle Beach. I won't give you directions but if you are interested in seeing more bald eagles in one day than most people will see in a lifetime then ask the locals about this amazing little spot. if you are lucky you will get to hang out with the local seal population to.
Alright time to fly to Anchorage and see what's on offer. KEEP READING Part III to find out more.
Can't wait to hear about your trip to Alaska! Comment below and let us know how it went.
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Keep the adventure alive,
Jacques | Massie Bros
Massie Bro's | Paulo | Jacques