|The Mendenhall Glacier // All photos by the author|
We started our morning by heading out to the Mendenhall Glacier (www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass/districts/mendenhall), which is just a few miles outside of the downtown area. This recreation area has the oldest visitor's center in the National Park system, as well as miles of hiking trails and a nearby salmon stream where visitors may catch a glimpse of wild bears. We didn't see any- the peak of the salmon run, which starts at the end of July, had just passed.
Next we headed out to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery (www.dipac.net), which allows visitors to see some of the efforts being undertaken to preserve Alaskan wild-caught salmon. Visitors can tour the facility and see how wildlife experts catch the returning salmon and artificially inseminate the eggs to ensure a healthy supply of fish for next season. There is also an aquarium with local sea life on the property, including a touch tank- we got to pet a sea cucumber.
|The Mount Roberts Tramway|
After that we rode the Mount Roberts Tramway (www.mountrobertstramway.com) up to the 1800 foot level of Mount Roberts. Since the Tramway departs almost directly from the cruise ship dock, this is a great way for passengers with limited mobility to experience alpine views. Tickets are good for an unlimited number of rides all day, so travelers can come up in the morning and return in the evening for sunset views. There is also a hiking trail up to the top of Mount Roberts, which takes about two hours one way- it is recommended to bring plenty of supplies in case a change in the weather forces hikers to stay overnight.
|The Juneau Icefield|
We capped off our day with a glacier helicopter tour from Temsco. We took a Pilot's Choice tour, which offers a fifty-minute helicopter ride with two landing spots determined by the pilot based on local weather conditions. Since the day was unusually clear, we made it all the way up to the top of the Juneau Icefield, which spawns the area's 38 major glaciers. Other tours include a flight to the top of the Mendenhall Glacier followed by a guided walk, as well as a flight to Temsco's glaciertop dogsledding camp, where travelers can ride on a sled and even see the dog sled puppies. Temsco offers a ten percent commission on its helicopter tours, and, depending on the availability of aircraft, can arrange custom itineraries with travel agents. Interested agents should reach out to [email protected] for details.