Mendenhall Glacier Tours

Juneau Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Tour

This combo is the best way to make the most of your day in Juneau! While out on the water, there is no doubt that you'll see humpback whales - this is the time of year they travel to Alaska to feed on thousands of pounds of krill a day. The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor's Center offers unique views and trails for guests to get as close to the glacier as possible!

Duration: 4.5 hours

Price: $130 per person

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Juneau Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour

Join the ultimate Alaskan adventure that takes you up close and personal with the Mendenhall Glacier. Become one of the few to walk on top of the glacier surface and where you'll explore it's unique geology of rivers, and crevasses. This exclusive tour also includes a canoe ride past waterfalls, between icebergs, and next to wildlife to give you an unforgettable experience.

Duration: 5.5 hours

Price: $340 per person

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Juneau Mendenhall Glacier Guided Walk via Helicopter Tour

Featured on GOOD MORNING AMERICA -- travel back to the Ice Ages with Alaska's original glacier helicopter tour! Board a modern turbine-powered helicopter for a flight to the world famous Mendenhall Glacier!

Duration: 2.5 hours

Price: $319 per person

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Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip

Get ready for a true outdoor experience - you're going on an exhilarating river rafting adventure down the beautiful Mendenhall River. There is something for everyone; whether this is your first time or you're experienced! You can choose to paddle or just sit back and enjoy the day. No matter what, this is a tour not to be missed!

Duration: 3.5 hours

Price: $147 per person

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Juneau Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake Tour

Experience the perfect day sightseeing at the most popular attraction in Juneau, the Mendenhall Glacier, followed up by an all-you-can-eat Alaskan salmon bake. Take in the magnificent sights during your free time at the glacier before being taken to an authentic Alaskan feast at Gold Creek. Spend as much time feasting, exploring, and enjoying the entertainment before heading back to your cruise ship.

Duration: 3.5 hours

Price: $109 per person

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Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding & Helicopter Tour

This tour is the same as our Juneau Dog Sledding & Glacier Helicopter Tour except that it will take you on a thrilling mushing ride across the Mendenhall Glacier. After your transfer to the helicopter base, you'll take off on a scenic flight over the Mendenhall Lake, on your way to the dogsled camp situated atop the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. The spirited dogs will be waiting to whisk you away on a mushing experience you'll not soon forget!

Duration: 3 hours

Price: $539 per person

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Juneau Mendenhall Lake Canoe Tour

Be among the select few to travel by canoe for an unprecedented experience of the majestic Mendenhall Glacier. This tour is limited by permits issued by the National Parks Service so book early for this unique experience! Paddle across Mendenhall Lake, navigating past icebergs, surrounded by one of the richest samplings of Alaskan wildlife you'll find anywhere. Venture within yards of the massive, awe-inspiring face of the living Mendenhall Glacier.

Duration: 3.5-4 hours

Price: $159 per person

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Juneau Kayaking Tour & Mendenhall Glacier Viewing

You'll be off to the north side of Douglas Island for panoramic views of the Mendenhall Glacier and Auke Bay, where you'll board a two person kayak sailing as the Aleut Indians did! As you view the Mendenhall Glacier from the sea, your adventure may include seeing porpoise, seals, sea lions, eagles, herons, or even whales. Get ready for a wilderness adventure you won't forget.

Duration: 3.5 hours

Price: $109 per person

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About Mendenhall Glacier Tours

Best Mendenhall Glacier Tours & Excursions

1. Juneau Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Tour

2. Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour

3. Glacier Walk & Helicopter Tour

4. Mendenhall Glacier Float Trip

5. Juneau Mendenhall Glacier & Salmon Bake Tour

6. Dog Sledding & Helicopter Tour

7. Mendenhall Lake Canoe Tour

8. Kayaking & Mendenhall Glacier Viewing

 

Visiting Mendenhall Glacier

If you're in the Juneau area, a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier is a must-do activity.

Mendenhall Glacier is a massive and mighty river of ice that extends 13 miles. Featuring vivid blue ice and awe-inspiring views of the magnificent Coast Mountains, the Mendenhall Glacier is a natural wonder. It is part of the Juneau Icefield, located within the Tongass National Forest

 

Visiting Mendenhall Glacier

When you visit, you’ll step back in time to the last ice age, when Juneau Icefield spilled forth with 38 glaciers, including the Mendenhall with its with rugged, icy crevasses. Have your camera ready as you wander along the well-maintained trails to view black bears, salmon streams, and even bald eagles.

You can get to the glacier via one of our scenic Medenhall Glacier tours, taxi, or car.

 

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor's Center

When you arrive at the visitor’s center, take a short walk on Photo Point Trail, about 0.15 miles, to a beautiful viewpoint, great for taking photos of the glacier. The trail is paved and accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.

Once you’ve taken the perfect glacier photo, head to the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center to learn more about the glacier and watch a 15-minute video. You can also pick up a trail map from the National Forest Service. Many people enjoy learning about the science of the glacier, along with the area’s rich history. The visitor’s center charges a small fee for entry, but you can use the restrooms and visit the bookstore for free. 

 

Nugget Falls

If you have more time, take a 15-20 minute walk along the trail to Nugget Falls to reach a large and beautiful waterfall. Enjoy the spectacular sight of the waterfall spilling into an iceberg-filled lake, with the glacier in the background. This is the closest you can get to the glacier from this side of the lake.

The Nugget Falls Trail is 2 miles roundtrip and takes about an hour to accomplish. It is a well-maintained, gentle trail with dirt and gravel.

 

Spotting Wildlife: Salmon and Black Bears

Those visiting the Mendenhall Glacier in late July through September can look for views of black bears fishing for salmon. Head left from the roundabout onto a series of boardwalks for the Steep Creek Trail. If you’re lucky, you’ll find black bears chasing the salmon that have spawned in the creek. (Don’t worry, bears can’t get up to the platforms where you’ll be.)

Steep Creek Trail is a 0.25 mile loop, and takes about 20 minutes to see. The trail is easy for most visitors, alternating between pavement and raised boardwalks.

 

Mendenhall Glacier Weather

Mendenhall Glacier weather is typically mildest in May through September. During the summer, expect highs in the 60s and always bring a rain jacket - just in case. (But don't let rain discourage your trip! The glacier is beautiful on cloudy days.)

Overcast days can bring some of the best glacier views and photographs, so don’t let a little rain discourage you! You can find the current Mendenhall Glacier weather conditions on our page.

 

Cool Mendenhall Glacier Facts

In addition to its splendor and beauty, the Mendenhall Glacier offers fascinating insights into science and history.

 

Why is the Ice Blue?

The ice appears blue, because it absorbs all of the colors of the visible light spectrum except blue, which it reflects. Other ice may appear white, because it is highly fractured with air pockets and scatters the visible light spectrum. The ice is bluest in the areas least exposed to air.

 

How Did the Glacier Form?

Year after year, snow accumulates and compacts underlying snow layers from previous years into solid ice. Snowfall in the Juneau Icefield often exceeds 100 feet, which creates excellent conditions for glaciation. Mendenhall Glacier is one of 38 glaciers that flow from Juneau Icefield.

 

The Glacier Looks Still; Is it Moving?

Yes, the glacier is always moving, shaping the landscape as it goes. While the movement is very, very slow, the glacier is always moving and flowing downhill like a river.

 

How Did Mendenhall Glacier Get its Name?

The glacier was actually orginally known as Sitaantaagu (“the Glacier Behind the Town”) or Aak’wtaaksit (“the Glacier Behind the Little Lake”). Naturalist John Muir named the glacier Auke Glacier in 1888. Then, in 1891, it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, who served as Superindendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894.  

 

Choosing Your Excursion

There's a Mendenhall Glacier tour for everyone. You can ride atop Mendenhall Lake by kayak, canoe, or raft or you can fly to the glacier via helicopter. For a truly exciting trip, the Ice Adventure tour can include a visit to the famous Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves if conditions are favorable.

For even more to do in Juneau, check out our list of the best things to do in Juneau.

 


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