Alaska's famous drive-in glacier, Mendenhall Glacier, is Juneau's most popular attraction, flowing 12 miles (19 kilometers) from its source, the Juneau Ice Field. On a sunny day it's beautiful, with blue skies and snow-capped mountains in the background. On a cloudy and drizzly afternoon, it can be even more impressive, as the ice turns shades of deep blue.
Near the face of the glacier is the visitors center, which houses various glaciology exhibits, a large relief map of the ice field, an observatory with telescopes and a theater that shows the film, Magnificent Mendenhall. Outside you'll find a salmon-viewing platform overlooking Steep Creek, as well as 6 hiking trails, including a short photo-overlook trail to a longer trek up the glacier's west side. Another trail, the East Glacier Loop trail leads through the forest for views of a waterfall near the glacier’s face. Though a little steep, it’s perfect for school-age children. More experienced hikers should try the West Glacier Trail, which follows the edge of the lake and glacier, providing access to the ice itself.
Highlight of our trip! Such a great experience. We saw seals and bald eagles!
Unbelievable! My wife and I took a 7 day Inside Passage cruise and this was by far the best experience of our trip. Climbing down into a cave under the Mendenhall glacier was something unexpected and was the best part of the trek. The hike to and from the glacier is no joke so be prepared for a very challenging day. I have climbed many mountains in Colorado and this was as difficult as any of the climbs I have done.
Review by Mark P, September 2011
Doing what: Juneau Whale Watching Adventure and Mendenhall Glacier Tour
we loved this we saw only one humpback but quit a few Orcas inlcuding a mom and baby.The naturalsit on board was very informative. She was just as excited to see the whales as us. Highly recommend this excursion.
Mendenhall Glacier is located just outside Juneau, at the head of Glacier Spur Road. You can reach the visitors center by bus, taxi, or car. The city bus drops visitors a mile and a half from the visitor center. Those choosing to walk should be prepared for changing weather conditions.
If you’re coming by car, take Egan Drive and turn right at Mendenhall Loop Road. Mendenhall Loop Road turns into Glacier Spur Road and ends at the visitor center. The parking lot has great views across the lake to the glacier's face.