Fodor's Expert Review Mendenhall Glacier

Juneau Geological Site Fodor's Choice

Glaciers are abundant in Southeast Alaska, but only a very few are as accessible as the Mendenhall Glacier. Alaska's most-visited drive-up glacier spans 12 miles and is fed by the massive Juneau Icefield. Like many other Alaska glaciers, it is retreating, losing more than 100 feet a year as huge chunks of ice calve into the small lake separating the glacier from the Mendenhall Visitor Center. The center has interactive and traditional exhibits, a theater and bookstore, and panoramic views. It's a great place to learn the basics of glacier dynamics. Nature trails lead along Mendenhall Lake, to Nugget Falls, and into the mountains overlooking Mendenhall Glacier; the trails are marked by posts and paint stripes delineating the historic location of the glacier, providing a sharp reminder of the Mendenhall's hasty retreat. An elevated viewing platform allows visitors to look for spawning sockeye and coho salmon—and the bears that eat them—at Steep Creek, ½ mile south of the visitor... READ MORE

Glaciers are abundant in Southeast Alaska, but only a very few are as accessible as the Mendenhall Glacier. Alaska's most-visited drive-up glacier spans 12 miles and is fed by the massive Juneau Icefield. Like many other Alaska glaciers, it is retreating, losing more than 100 feet a year as huge chunks of ice calve into the small lake separating the glacier from the Mendenhall Visitor Center. The center has interactive and traditional exhibits, a theater and bookstore, and panoramic views. It's a great place to learn the basics of glacier dynamics. Nature trails lead along Mendenhall Lake, to Nugget Falls, and into the mountains overlooking Mendenhall Glacier; the trails are marked by posts and paint stripes delineating the historic location of the glacier, providing a sharp reminder of the Mendenhall's hasty retreat. An elevated viewing platform allows visitors to look for spawning sockeye and coho salmon—and the bears that eat them—at Steep Creek, ½ mile south of the visitor center along the Moraine Ecology Trail. Several companies lead bus tours to the glacier. A glacier express bus leaves from the cruise-ship terminal and heads right out to Mendenhall Glacier; ask at the visitor information center there. You can also get within a mile and a half of the glacier on the city bus, which is $2 one way.

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Quick Facts

End of Glacier Spur Rd. off Mendenhall Loop Rd.
Juneau, Alaska  99801, USA

907-789–0097

www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Visitor center $5 May–Sept., free Oct.–Apr., May–Sept., daily 8–7:30; Oct.–Apr., Fri.–Sun. 10–4

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