Alaska’s Capital – Juneau

[flagallery gid=10 name=”Gallery”]Juneau is the only capital city with no road linking it to the outside world.  Travel in and out of Juneau is by boat or plane only.  Arriving by cruise ship leaves so little time to do everything but you can have a very fulfilling day with lots or little activity.  That’s the good part – you always get to choose how you will spend your time.

Juneau and the Inside Passage are wet so I recommend dressing appropriately.  Layering clothing makes sense and then as the weather warms up you can take a layer off.  In the spring there is usually about 3 inches of rain per month and in the fall about 7 inches of rain per month.  I have been there in June, August & September and the August week happened to be mostly rainy.  You can never tell for sure.   Dress for the wet weather and then be pleasantly surprised if the sun shines!

If you have never been to Juneau I believe a “must-do” is to go whale-watching.   You can travel out by boat and see many humpback whales and even an Orca.   The whale excursions actually guarantee that you will see a whale or get your money back!  I have gone whale-watching twice from Juneau with activity both times.  You will more than likely also see seals and other sea life.   If you are really lucky you might see a bear along the shore. 

having been through the Inside Passage three times people are amazed that I’m not bored and that I want to go back but I find it totally fascinating.  Did I mention that I am a nature lover??

Mendenhall Glacier is also a worthwhile trip.  There is a visitor’s centre there from which you can view an amazing glacier that is 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.  When I was there I stood for at least an hour watching the river and the glacier in the pouring rain.  It’s okay, I was dressed for it.  I met a gentleman there who has lived in the area for 25 years and loves it and his son was visiting him.  I really enjoy meeting local people whenever I travel.    You can’t walk on the Mendenhall Glacier but you can take a helicopter ride over it.  I bought a DVD which showed the view from the helicopter and it is truly amazing!  Perhaps on my next visit I will experience this.

If you like salmon then you will be in your dreams in Juneau!  You could go to a salmon bake and taste it barbecued over an open alder wood fire and also you could visit a salmon hatchery and see how these fish develop throughout their life.

In the city of Juneau where just over 30,000 people live you can enjoy the local beer.  One of the most famous places to do this is the Red Dog Saloon.  It has a saw-dust floor and a bounty (not sure if that’s the right word here) of animal heads on the walls.  It’s a memorable visit.

Mt. Robert’s Tram is a good way to view the area.  It is a 6 minute trip to the top of Mr. Roberts, 1800 feet above the city.   Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate the times that I was there so I didn’t ride the tram.

When I visited the Mendenhall Glacier I also went to the Glacier Gardens.  At 580 feet there is a boardwalk that gives a breathtaking view of Mendenhall Valley, Douglas Island, Gastineau Channel and the Chilkat Mountains.   This garden has something that I’d never before seen.  When they were clearing the area one of the forklift trucks dropped a tree and the landowner had a very creative idea to leave it there.  In fact there are many trees that are in this garden upside down and in the root area is a magnificent show of flowers.  It’s a very unusual site!  We rode in a large golf-cart type of vehicle and keep going up & up through the forest.  Coming down is via a different path and there are many colourful areas of flowers.  I was really glad I took this excursion.

There are endless choices of things to do at Juneau and I have only covered a few here.   You could visit the Alaska State Museum where there is a lot of history, art and culture from the area.   Dog sledding is popular in the area and you can visit and see the dogs, go canoeing, kayaking or even drive a hummer.  If you like to fish there is an abundance of excursions which include halibut sport fishing, salmon sport fishing or fly-fishing.  Even go on a jeep adventure if that suits you.

There is a rainforest canopy and Zipline expedition (never for me!) and a chance to pan for gold.  On my next visit I may try the 9 mile bicycle tour and beer tasting beside Auke Lake.

Whatever you decide to do in Juneau I know that you will be able to experience a full-day’s worth of adventure and want to go back.    Enjoy my pictures & ask me about my upcoming plans to visit Alaska again.