Monday, October 12, 2015

Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau Alaska

Our first port of call on our Alaska Cruise after departing from Seattle was Juneau.  Juneau is only accessible by air or sea and the majority of people who visit arrive by cruise ship.

I think most people would agree that the "must see" place to go when visiting Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier. As my photo (below) proves, when you are in Alaska, even during the summer, there is no guarantee of sunny weather.

Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau Alaska
Upon arriving in Juneau we disembarked at the cruise ship dock and walked a short distance to board a bus for a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier.

Tour Bus Parking at the Juneau Cruise Ship Dock
The Mendenhall Glacier is only a half-hour trip (approximately 12 miles) from Juneau providing an amazingly accessible close-up view of a glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls
Upon disembarking from the bus, we walked a short distance to a vantage point in front of the visitor center.  

Nugget Falls Trail Sign
We wanted to get a closer look and didn't want to run out of time so we opted to hike to Nugget Falls first before going into the visitor center.

Blooming Wildflowers (Epilobium species) along the Nugget Falls Trail
The trail was flat, easy and it is only about one mile from the visitor center to the base of the falls.  The vegetation along the trail is lush with some wildflowers in bloom.

Although there were numerous warning signs and we had heard that there was a good possibility of viewing bears along the trail or fishing below the falls, we didn't see any.

Iceberg in Mendenhall Lake
Like many of the world's glaciers, Mendenhall Glacier is receding.  It has retreated almost 2 miles since 1958.  It is currently about 12 miles long.  As the Mendenhall Glacier melted it has created the enlarging Mendenhall lake where icebergs can be seen floating after breaking off from the Glacier.

The water plunging over Nugget Creek Falls is melt from another glacier - Nugget Glacier.  Nugget Falls  is about 375 feet in height and since the spray could be felt from several hundred yards away, it is a good idea to bring a rain jacket along on this hike even if it isn't raining.

Mendenhall Glacier - Juneau, AK

 After viewing the glacier and falls and taking some photos we started back to the visitor center to try to make sure we had some time to look around before boarding the bus for the return trip to town.

Romeo the Wolf Memorial
Near the visitor center we saw this memorial placque on a rock that pays tribute to Romeo,  a friendly wild wolf that was often seen in the area.  I was curious to learn more and found the book, A Wolf Called Romeo, by Nick Jans that tells his story.  A great read if you enjoy stories about animals.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center
The Mendenhall visitor center has an impressive location, perched atop a large boulder left behind from the retreat of the glacier.

Inside the visitor center was crowded, but the information about both glaciers in general and the Mendenhall Glacier specifically were very interesting and educational.

Bear Display inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

The visitor center also had displays and information about the wildlife and ecology of the area.

Even though the weather was drippy, we wished we'd had more time to do more hiking on the numerous other trails around the glacier, but we wanted to get back into town to take a ride on the Mount Roberts Tramway and do a bit of exploring in Juneau.

Weekend Travel Inspiration Link-up with Albom Adventures