Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Mount Roberts Tram and Juneau Alaska

Another of the most popular things to do in Juneau, is to take the tram to the top of Mount Roberts.  On a sunny day the view must be incredible because even on a misty rainy day it was pretty impressive.
Mount Roberts Tram - Juneau, AK
The tram is located right next to the main cruise terminal which makes it very convenient for cruise ship passengers to take the trip up the mountain.

The Mount Roberts Tramway was opened in 1996 and is owned and operated by Goldbeldt, LLC which is an Alaskan native corporation.  The tram takes over 200,000 passengers per year up the mountain and only operates during the cruise ship season from May through September.

Huge Gears of the Mount Roberts Tramway - Juneau, AK
While we waited for our turn to board one of the tram cars, it was fascinating to watch the huge pulley that winds the cable that moves the tram cars.
Mount Roberts Tramway car "Eagle" - Juneau, AK
The Mount Roberts Tramway has two cars - Eagle and Raven.  We happened to take the ride up the mountain on "Eagle".
Ascending the Mount Roberts Tramway - Juneau, AK

As the tram took off and we started quickly gaining altitude, it occurred to me as I looked down at the city of Juneau below, that those who suffer from either acrophobia or claustrophobia may want to think twice before signing up for this activity.  Of concern to the claustrophobic is that each tram car holds up to 60 people and the operators count to try to make sure each car is packed.  For the acrophobics, the car has glass windows on all sides and rises over 1800 feet in about six minutes. It is reported to be one of the steepest tramways in the world.  

At the Top of the Mount Roberts Tramway
At end of the ride to the top of the mountain passengers exit the tram car on a platform perched on a tower.  The platform is attached to the "The Mountain House" by a sky bridge.  The Mountain House contains displays of Native Alaskan arts and crafts, the Raven Eagle Gift shop, the Chilkat theater with a film about Tlingit culture and a restaurant, the Timberline Bar and Grill.

View from the top of Mount Roberts - Juneau, AK
After spending some time looking around in the Mountain House, we headed up a trail leading to the interpretive nature. On our way I glanced down to the cruise ship terminal below.

View of a Cruise Ship from the top of Mount Roberts - Juneau, AK

Using the zoom on my camera, I got a little better photo of one of the cruise ships tied up at the dock.
We continued on the trail toward the nature center hoping to see and learn more about Lady Baltimore, a bald eagle who was found injured from a gunshot on Douglas Island in 2006.  Unfortunately she was not receiving visitors at the time we were at Mount Roberts.

"Lady Baltimore, an injured bald eagle, in her habitat" by Michaelh2001 - I took this photo today, 15 August 2015, using my Canon PowerShot camera. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia
Within a week after our visit, Michaelh2001 took this photo of Lady Baltimore (below) and her habitat (above) on a beautiful sunny day.  I wish we had been as lucky with the weather.

"Lady Baltimore, in her habitat" by Michaelh2001 - I created this file today, using my Canon PowerShot camera. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia
Lady Baltimore is part of the Juneau Raptor Center educational program located at Mount Roberts. The Juneau Raptor Center provides medical treatment and rehabilitation for all types of wild birds, not just raptors, and when possible, releases them back to the wild.  Those that have injuries that are too severe to survive in the wild, like Lady Baltimore, are either humanely euthanized or kept for educational purposes.

We continued on to the nature center which features interpretive exhibits, including several created by the Juneau Raptor Center.

Eagle Nest Interpretive Display - Mount Roberts Tramway
One of the exhibits is a life-size display showing the size of a bald eagle nest.

Eagle Wingspan Interpretive Display - Mount Roberts Tramway
Another encourages visitors to compare their outstretched arms to the wingspan of a bald eagle and several other bird species.  My husband with an arm span of about 6 feet kindly obliged as my model to give some idea of scale to the photo.

Tramway Platform at the top of Mount Roberts
There are several miles hiking trails on Mount Roberts, but since the visibility was so poor due to the weather and also because we had already done a hike at the Mendenhall Glacier earlier in the day, we decided to return back down the mountain to do a little walking around in Juneau.  A tram car departs from the platform every 10 minutes so we didn't have long to wait.
Descending from the top of Mount Roberts
Soon we were zooming back down the mountain.

Bald Eagle - Mount Roberts - Juneau, AK
Ok, this is a horrible photo that I took on the tram while riding down from Mount Roberts.  We saw numerous bald eagles from Mount Roberts and also in Juneau, so I wanted to post at least one.  It is the best one I have because it was such a dark rainy day.  At least you can see the white head of the bird sitting in a tree. Probably doesn't help that I'm not the world's best photographer either.

Shoppers on Franklin Avenue - Juneau, AK
I saw at least four cruise ships in port, so Franklin Avenue was filled with sightseers and shoppers.

A Rainy Day in Juneau Alaska
We walked down Franklin Avenue a few blocks and checked out some of the shops.

Shops in Juneau near the cruise ship terminal
The businesses on Franklin Avenue cater to the cruise ship crowds and there is a wide variety of products available but jewelry, furs and souvenirs were represented in abundance.

Tracy's King Crab Shack
Of course there were also restaurants and bars. Tracy's King Crab Shack has a large retail shop full of any crab related souvenir you can imagine as well as the restaurant in the back.  When researching our ports of call in preparation for our cruise we'd read some great reviews for Tracy's King Crab Shack and had planned to stop and get a bite to eat.  Although the food looked good, we took a poll and we all voted to go back to the ship to take hot showers and get into some dry clothes.

The Holland America Westerdam at the dock in Juneau, AK

So it was back to the ship and the end of our damp day in Juneau.
Tomorrow's destination:  Glacier Bay

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