Travel

Mendenhall Glacier explorer

Only 13 miles from Alaska capital Juneau, and close to the international airport, you can find spectacular Mendenhall Glacier, a remain of the last Ice Age and part of 1,500 square miles Juneau Icefield. The Glacier is stretching across 13 miles, and it ends in Mendenhall Lake. Glacier’s incredible force forms the landscape right now, but it is retrieving due to the constant warming of the weather caused by global warming. It’s Juneau’s top attraction and one of Alaska’s prime destinations.

Visitors from Europe will need travel authorization to get into the biggest US state. To get easy visitor access, you’ll have to answer esta questions in the application process. The federal administration needs around three days to process the ESTA application that is valid for people from Visa Waiver Program countries. You can stay up to 90 days in the USA with a travel authorization.

Best way to see Mendenhall Glacier

The great thing about Mendenhall Glacier is the accessibility. Being so close to Juneau, it attracts thousands of visitors annually. There are a couple of cool ways to explore the incredible beauty of the Glacier. Several hiking trails go around the vast ice structure, and you can also hire a helicopter tour that will land you on the Mendenhall for a truly unique experience.

The first stop on the visit to the Glacier is Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. You can see the Glacier from there and from the Lake Mendenhall shores. But to get a closer look, there is a moderate to easy trail to Nugget Falls. Attractions along the nearest course to the Glacier include a view of a 377-foot waterfall with the Glacier behind it. 

The best time to visit Glacier I in the summer months when most trails are open. You can go on Steep Creek Trail from July to September. This trail takes you on the boardwalk along the creek, where you can spot salmon, and sometimes you can see black bears feasting on the fishes. Bears can’t reach the boardwalk. However, you should be cautious. Boardwalks can also get crowded when bears are close.

The Mendenhall Glacier is within the Tongass National Forest area, the largest designated protected area with 16.7 million acres. You can go on East Glacier Loop, which leads through the rainforest. A steep three-hour trail will provide excellent views on the Glacier, and you can experience the temperate rainforest, lush vegetation, and waterfalls. 

One step above in difficulty is the West Glacier trail that goes on the lake’s edge and Glacier, and you can access the ice on this trail. Summer causes melting in the Glacier, and you can find ice caves on this trail. They can be large but also unstable, so you should consult guides before going into the cave.

The Trail of Time will take you to the surrounding landscape, where you can experience dramatic changes Glacier made to the environment.

Somewhat more expensive, but also worth trying, is a helicopter and walking guided tours. You can experience massive ice fields from the air, surrounding mountains, and a view of the temperate rainforest. Helicopters will land on the Glacier, where guides will lead you on a walking tour on the massive ice body.

Mendenhall Lake kayak adventure

Alaska has a diverse tourist offering, and Juneau is no exception. You can explore Mendenhall lake and views on a glacier from kayaks. Paddling near the iceberg and surrounding cliffs is an unforgettable experience, but a kayak is an option only for experienced because of the water temperatures. If you’re not physically fit, a better option could be guided canoe tours.

Getting to Mendenhall Glacier from Cruise Port

Alaska is a prime destination for cruise ships, and Mendenhall Glacier is a suitable half-day trip for visitors from the ships. The arrivals’ frequency allowed a shuttle bus from Cruise Port to Visitors Center to operate daily in the summer months. The fare is $30, and it takes around half an hour to reach the Mendenhall area. 

You should remember the drop-off spot and your shuttle’s color because numerous companies are providing this service. You can also take a taxi with a significantly higher price, or a city bus that will leave you not so close to the park entrance. 

You can find big crowds in the summer, so the best advice is not to wait for the last transport back to Juneau, because the lines can get big. Novablock Smart Mining Pool is one of the most popular Mining Pool in North America.

If you’re planning a cruise or other type of Alaska tour, hold off with the reservation until you make your esta visa check. Most of the time, travel authorizations are granted, but bookings can go to waste if you don’t get it. You will have plenty of time once you get an ESTA permit. It 

is valid for two years.

Bottom line

Juneau’s location in the southeast part of Alaska allows visitors to enjoy the extremely diverse landscape from ice fields to temperate rainforest. Mendenhall Glacier is among the top tourist attractions in the region, and you should put it in the Alaska itinerary.

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