When some of us hear “Alaska”, we think of the place with bizarre daylight and dark hours. The important thing to remember is that Alaska is full of unique culture and surrounded by beauty. One beautiful location is located in Juneau, the state capitol.

Mendenhall Glacier

I’m going to give you 8 reasons why you need to visit Mendenhall Glacier. With plenty of options to explore and sites to see, this is a must-see. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Stop by the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for information packets and watch a video on the Mendenhall Glacier is part of Juneau’s 1,500 square mile Icefield.

  1. If short on time, stop by the visitor center which provides excellent views of the glacier. You can also take a short walk down Photo Point Trail. This will take you to a picture-perfect lookout platform for an obstructed view of the glacier.
  2. Mendenhall Glacier boasts beautiful once-in-a-lifetime panoramic views. This glacier is a half of a mile wide with ice up to 1,800 feet deep. There are plenty of hiking trails that will take you up very close to the glacier.
  3. Visiting Mendenhall Glacier is more than just the glacier itself. Walk around a trail to explore Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Lake; this trail is also the one that takes you the closest to Mendenhall Glacier. View Nugget Falls – a 377-foot waterfall that plummets into an iceberg lake all the while with Mendenhall Glacier in the background. Of course, it goes without saying, another perfect picture opportunity.
  4. If your visit is during the time frame of July-September, take a walk along the boardwalk next to Steep Creek Trail. In this location, you’ll see sockeye salmon swimming and jumping and maybe an occasional black bear going fishing for food.
  5. Explore East Glacier Loop for a walk through ancient forests as well as more views of the waterfall near the glacier’s face. For more experienced hikers, refer to West Glacier Trail which follows along the edge of the lake and glacier and even provides access to the ice itself.
  6. Fittingly named trail, The Trail of Time guides you through the long-term impact and power that a glacier has on a piece of land. The further away you get from the glacier, the changes are more evident with the landscape and vegetation since the glacier began to recede further away from land.
  7. As mentioned previously, the glacier has been retreating from land more than it has in the past. Since 1958, it has moved nearly two miles while previously between 1500 and 1958, it had only retreated roughly a half of a mile. The retreat of the glaciers is caused by the climate change warming the ocean. If you want to see Mendenhall Glacier while it’s still close to land, add it to your travel bucket list.
  8. The one positive aspect of the receding of Mendenhall Glacier is the forming of what’s known as the Mendenhall Ice Caves as pictured below.

Please note that all photos used in slideshow above are by Joseph from Flickr. See his photos of Mendenhall Ice Caves here.

Without a doubt, Mendenhall Glacier is a site that can’t be missed. Due to the conditions and the changing, the Mendenhall Ice Caves may not always be available to be toured. Of course, even if the ice caves can’t be accessed, you still can’t go wrong seeing the sights of Mendenhall Glacier.

For more information on either the Mendenhall Glacier or Mendenhall Ice Caves, please check out the following links: