One of the most popular ports on Alaska cruises is Juneau. It’s a unique destination because there are no connecting roads to other cities, making it only accessible by water (such as on a cruise) or air.
|Glaciers are plentiful in southeastern Alaska.
This excursion combined two of the things Juneau is most known for—Mendenhall Glacier and Orca whales. We got good opportunities for pictures of both.
|Waterfall on our hike
Because of the surrounding ice, many people don’t realize that Juneau is deep in a temperate rain forest. There are more hiking trails than roads, which makes it a perfect place for nature-lovers. So our morning began with a hike on Steep Creek Trail to Mendenhall Glacier through a thick forest canopy. Located in the Mendenhall Valley 14 miles from the city center, the glacier flows 12 miles from its source and has a half-mile-wide face.
|Dense vegetation in the forest
|Mendenhall Glacier extends around the upper left corner.
Despite a report of a bear sighting on another trail, we didn’t see any, even though salmon were plentiful in the surrounding lake. Still we had a good look at the glacier and later spotted large, red salmon darting among fallen branches and leaves in the water.
|Lots of sea lions
|Whale tail as it descends into the water
When we arrived at the area where Orcas hang out, it didn’t take long to spot a female whale named Flame. She had a cub and ducked underwater to escape prying human eyes. Another female whale named Riddler was more accommodating, darting in and out of the water several times, allowing us to take numerous quick photos.
|Tell-tale spout before a whale surfaces
Too soon it was time to head back to the ship where we heard about other outdoor adventures that cruisers had enjoyed including canoeing near the glacier, flight seeing, dog sledding, exploring native art, zip lining in the forest, river rafting, and salmon fishing.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier