Did you know that you can actually visit Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau year-round? It’s true. Juneau is actually pretty enjoyable throughout the year, including the winter when the rest of Alaska is blanketed under thick layers of snow and frigid temperatures. Though we still get plenty of snow to enjoy, which makes it possible for us to do things like cross country ski, snowshoe, and ski or snowboard at Eaglecrest Ski Area, it’s certainly not as cold (or miserable) here as you might be thinking.
Though the best time to visit Mendenhall Glacier and many of Juneau’s other top attractions is between May – October, there’s certainly a case to be made for winter getaways to Juneau. There are far fewer crowds in the area, which means you’ll have the vast wilderness practically to yourself. That, and it’s tons of fun up here in the winter! Of course, whenever you do come, you’ll want to stay at our luxury downtown Juneau hotel, where we offer the perfect blend of comfort, amenities, and hospitality. What are you waiting for? Book a room at our upscale Juneau hotel today!
Visiting Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most popular attractions in all of Juneau. It’s impressive, of course, but it’s also one of the most accessible glaciers in all of North America. It’s only 13 miles outside of downtown Juneau, too, and can be accessed by bike, bus, and car. Mendenhall Glacier is 1/2 mile wide, and the ice reaches depths of up to 1,800 feet. It really is an impressive sight to behold, and truly no wonder why it’s one of the most popular attractions in Juneau.
Any visit to Mendenhall Glacier should start at the Visitor Center, where you can watch a short film all about this icy giant and learn more about the 1,500 square mile Juneau Ice Field to which it belongs. From there, you can choose your own adventure. You won’t want to leave without a great photo, though, and the best place to do that is at the aptly named Photo Lookout. You’ll find an unobstructed view of Mendenhall Glacier, and it’s just a short walk from the Visitor Center.
There are also plenty of hiking trails around the Mendenhall Glacier area. You can easily spend at least half a day walking the trails in this area, but that depends on the time of year that you visit. Many people will tell you that the best time to visit Mendenhall Glacier is from May – October. While it’s true that those months align with Juneau’s peak travel system, it’s certainly not the only time of year worth visiting this glacier.
One trail you can, and should, take no matter when you visit is the trail to Nugget Falls. This trail winds along Mendenhall Lake and is the closest trail to the glacier itself. You’ll get gorgeous views of the glacier, but the real highlight is a stunning 377-foot waterfall. Admire it as it cascades into the icy lake with magnificent glacier views in the background. The waterfall freezes over in winter, adding to the mystical experience from this beautiful vantage point. If you’re visiting Juneau from July to September, make sure to walk along the Steep Creek Trail to see sockeye salmon swimming and spawning, as well as the occasional black bear looking for a tasty meal.
In the winter, the Mendenhall Glacier area is a great place for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Mendenhall Lake freezes over, allowing people to walk and ski directly across the lake (at your own risk, of course!). Once the area is sufficiently frozen in winter, it’s also a great time to visit the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves! They are truly one of the most stunning places you’ll ever experience – it’s well worth a trip to Juneau in the winter to see this.
Warm-up at our Downtown Juneau Hotel
We’d absolutely love it if you joined us for a bit of fun in our unique winter wonderland this year. You’ll be amazed at all of the wonderful things you can do, not least of which is visiting Mendenhall Glacier and its nearby attractions. At the end of a long day outside, there’s no better way to warm up than by soaking in one of our three amazing rooftop hot tubs. There’s nothing else like it in Juneau, and it’s just one more great reason to stay with us at our downtown Juneau hotel!
It’s not the only reason, of course. We offer 16 guest rooms, each of which is outfitted with your comfort in mind and comes complete with a broad range of amenities to make your stay something special. One of our most popular amenities is our healthy breakfast and our 24/7 coffee, tea, and hot chocolate bar – not to mention the daily midday treats we offer. We really have thought of everything, and we can’t wait to spoil you whenever you get here. Book your room at our downtown Juneau Hotel today!