Accessible only by air or sea, Alaska's capital is the third largest city in the state, and is surprisingly urban and cultured for such a remote destination. When you arrive by sea, you will be greeted dockside by numerous flags and an abundance of summer flowers. Take the short drive to Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier within city limits! Or you can take a helicopter ride for an amazing aerial view of the Mendenhall Glacier and land on the glacier for an up-close glacier experience! You have to see this spectacular glacier while you are in Juneau. Take a cruise to watch whales or go fishing for silver salmon, or just kick back and relax with a cool one at the famous and colorful Red Dog Saloon.
Perched on a thin strip of land at the mouth of Gold Creek, Juneau is arguably one of America's most beautiful state capitals, with the looming summits of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts providing a gorgeous backdrop. Nestled at the base of towering mountains overlooking the Gastineau Channel, the community's rich culture and history are displayed throughout the town and in several local museums. Travelers can hike miles of scenic trails through temperate rainforest, tidal beaches and up mountains capped by alpine meadows. Whether it's the serenity of an alpine meadow or the thrill of witnessing a breaching whale, adventure runs wild in Juneau.
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A Vibrant Downtown
Nearly half of Juneau's 30,000 residents work for a government agency, but outside of the marble-columned state capitol building, the city is a far cry from anything resembling Washington, D.C. The downtown area is filled with many vibrant buildings, including the must-see St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, which houses artwork and artifacts that date back to the 18th century. From the bright mural in Marine Park to the carvings in the House of Wickersham, downtown is filled with Alaska's own unique brand of culture and architecture.
Mt. Roberts Tramway - Top of the City
For a bird's-eye view, the Mt. Roberts Tramway offers a short, six-minute trek to the top of Mt. Roberts, 2,000 feet above the city. It links Juneau's waterfront district to the alpine reaches of Mount Roberts. At the top you will find a restaurant and bar, gift shop, museum, a small theater featuring cultural film shows, a series of nature trails, and a magnificent panoramic view of the Gastineau Channel, Admiralty Island, the Glacier Bay area, and the Chilkat Mountains.
Alaska State Museum
The museum first opened as a territorial museum in 1900. It has a wildlife exhibit, an extensive collection of artifacts reflecting the Russian history of the state and Native cultures, antiques, art and natural history displays.
Gastineau Salmon Hatchery
Situated just three miles north of downtown, the hatchery is a fine place to learn about salmon and commercial fishing. As salmon fight their way up a fish ladder, you can stand behind an underwater window and witness this mystery of nature. You can watch the whole process of harvesting and fertilizing salmon eggs. There is also a gift shop selling salmon products.
One of Alaska's few examples of colonial architecture, the mansion was built in 1912 and houses Alaska's first family. The mansion is accented by a totem pole, which was presented to the Governor as a gift by the Tlingit Indians.
Often hailed as Juneau's most impressive sight, nearby Mendenhall Glacier is approximately 12 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. This is Alaska's famous drive-in glacier. You can see the glacier on a float trip or a "flightseeing" adventure, or hike up one of its trails for a closer inspection. The Mendenhall Visitor Center is filled with photos and information designed to make your visit both fun and educational. The U.S. Forest Service offers a variety of exhibits relating to the glacier. Nearby hiking trails offer magnificent views of the glacier itself.
Chapel by the Lake
A small log church with breathtaking views of Mendenhall Glacier and Auke Lake.
In the heart of an Alaska rainforest, these gardens offer fabulous views on Gastineau Channel, Chilkat Mountains, and Mendenhall Valley.
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
Built in 1894, this tiny octagonal church is the oldest original Russian church in Alaska. It was built by local Tlingits who, under pressure from the government to convert to Christianity, chose the only faith that allowed them to keep their native language. Be sure to go inside and view icons and religious treasures dating back to the 1700s. Informal tours are conducted in the summer months. This is one of Juneau's most photographed buildings.
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Juneau Wildlife Viewing
Whether it's eagles, bears or whales, wilderness is instantly accessible to Juneau visitors via the downtown tramway to Mt. Roberts. The dramatic elevation gain takes tramway riders from sea level at downtown Juneau to more than 3,000 feet all within a mile of the coastline. A variety of wildlife tours can get you up close to black bears, eagles, whales, porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, mountain goats, and Sitka black tail deer.
There are a staggering number of eagles in Southeast Alaska. There are approximately 20,000 eagles compared to the 70,000 residents. The abundance of these magnificent birds was one of the reasons the Secretary of Interior recently removed bald eagles from the Endangered Species list. Viewing areas are all over Juneau, just look up in the sky!
Approximately 600 Humpback whales inhabit the waters of Northern Inside Passage. They migrate annually to Alaska to feed on the abundant plankton and small fish which thrive in this area. Humpback whales share the water with Killer and Orca whales, which can also be spotted playing in the water. There are very good whale watching excursions available.
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