Juneau is one of those places you should have on your “bucket list.” It’s not to be missed. We look forward to visits from our dear ones as they enjoy this magnificent place. For a quick look enjoy this video prepared by the Juneau School District.
If this is likely to be the only time you come to Alaska, don’t shortchange your visit. There’s so much to see and do here we suggest you make planning decisions based on answers to the following questions:
How long can you spend getting to Juneau? Getting here is half the fun!
- Do you want to take a train ride through the Canadian Rockies?
- If you can, consider taking the 3-day ferry trip up the Inside Passage on the Alaska Marine Highway
- Otherwise you’ll fly in on Alaska Airlines, the only major airline that serves Juneau International Airport – no road comes here.
How much time do you have while here? If you’ll likely never come back can you find time to also:
- Make a trip into Alaska’s interior?
- Travel in the Yukon Territory?
- Visit Denali National Park?
- Spend a weekend in nearby Gustavus, Haines and Skagway, or Sitka?
What are your primary interests? You’ll have to prioritize what to do depending on the season.
- Visiting friends/family?
- Exploring Juneau and Alaska history and Juneau’s vibrant local culture?
- Hiking and mountain climbing?
- Wildlife viewing – bears, birds, whales, sealions, wolves, mountain sheep?
- Downhill or cross country skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, outdoor skating?
- Boating, kayaking, and fishing?
- Sightseeing in this wonderland of mountain, fjords, glaciers, and ice fields?
- Watching the state legislature in session?
How much money will you have to spend? You can have a great time on the cheap – or you can spend a small fortune.
- Might you pay for guided overnight adventure trips?
- Will you be able to shell out for the odd boat, helicopter, or float plane day trips?
- Do you like to rough it and/or get around under your own steam?
- Do you prefer to find things to do that are essentially free?
So having thought through those questions, here’s a short list of potential adventures to include in your visit – but it’s far from exhaustive.
- Pack Creek – grizzly bear viewing on Admiralty Island
- Visit Glacier Bay
- Ride the tram up Mt. Roberts
- Go on marine wildlife viewing trips
- Take a boat ride through the Tracy Arm wilderness
- Go on a wilderness birdwatching tour
- Take a ferry to Haines, Skagway, Tenakee Hot Springs, or Sitka
- If you’re lucky our son will invite you to stay on his Shelter Island cabin (YouTube video coming soon)
- Visit the nearby Mendenhall Glacier
- Hike the historic Perseverance Goldmine Trail (6-miles round-trip)
- Hike through the temperate rainforest on Douglas Island to beatiful Outer Point
- Drive 30 miles “out the road” to Berner’s Bay (at the end) and visit Eagle Beach and Pt. Bridget State Park, the Arboretum, the Shrine and other jewels along the way.
- Take a 2-mile reound-trip walk on the trail through the beautiful Mendenhall Game Refuge wetlands – ducking as planes take off overhead from the airport runway and float plane pond, and see all kinds of wildlife.
- Explore downtown Juneau and watch the cruise ships come and go
- Visit the Alaska State Museum and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum
- Go to a performance at the Perseverance Theater
- More coming…..
In addition, here’s a few useful reference websites to explore.
- Travel Juneau – tourist information site
- City Borough of Juneau – municipal website
- All about Juneau (Wikipedia)
- American Towns – Juneau
What about the climate you ask? Here are some weather facts:
- There’s not much spread between day and night-time temperatures
- At latitude 58N, there’s only about 6 1/2 hours of daylight in mid-winter but in summer it’s light until long after 10 pm.
- Average high temperature in July is 65°F – bring a sweater!
- It rains a lot – October is very wet, April and May are driest. Bring rain gear!
- In a typical winter, there are 90 inches of snow – and there’s excellent downhill skiing at the city-owned Eaglecrest ski area and many good cross-country ski trails.
- The Wikipedia page about Juneau has an excellent climate by month summary table in it.
And finally, here are a few other surprising points to note:
- In the US, the city/borough of Juneau is second only to Sitka, AK, in size covering 3,255 sq miles – bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
- While the sea level is slowly rising, the land on which Juneau sits is rising faster due to “glacial rebound.”
- You cannot reach Juneau, Alaska’s state capital, by road – you have to come either by boat/ferry or else fly in. So there’s no need to bring or rent a car