While Mendenhall Glacier can be visited independently from Juneau, save the hassle of driving on Alaska's icy roads and opt for a combo tour to the glacier instead. Such tours typically combine Mendenhall with whale-watching experiences, glacier hikes, and salmon bakes, and include guides and round-trip transportation. Adventurous travelers can also paddle down the river in a raft, kayak, or canoe to see the glacier up-close or visit Mendenhall on a guided hiking and ice exploration.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The visitor center houses various exhibits, an observatory with telescopes, and a theater that shows a film about the glacier every 20 minutes.
If you plan on walking, dress accordingly and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Those visiting by cruise ship can take a tour of Mendenhall Glacier as a shore excursion.
No food or drink (except water) is allowed from May through September, due to bear activity.
Look out for Nugget Falls, a salmon-viewing platform overlooking Steep Creek, and for six hiking trails of varying difficulty.
The visitor center is wheelchair accessible, but paths closer to the glacier may not be.
How to Get There
Mendenhall Glacier is located about 12 miles (19 kilometers) outside of downtown Juneau, at the head of Glacier Spur Road. You can reach the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center by taxi, car, or bus. The city bus drops visitors roughly 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the visitor center, so plan accordingly.
When to Get There
From May through September, the visitor center is open daily between 8am and 7:30pm. October through April, it’s open Friday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm. The trails and outdoor areas are open all year.
World Famous Glaciers
If you've got a taste for glacier exploration, consider adding one of the world's other most impressive glaciers to your itinerary. Argentina's Perito Moreno is a classic, situated within the sweeping Patagonia National Park; Iceland's Vatnajökull is among the world's largest glaciers; and New Zealand's Franz Josef Glacier is a favorite for adventure travelers.
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