Tips for Visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

So you’re visiting Juneau, Alaska? Well then I’m sure you already know about the Mendenhall Glacier. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Alaska’s capital city with more than 500,000 visitors per year. This 13-mile glacier is truly a natural wonder that has to be seen in person. There are many tour options to see this wonder, however if you are into saving money (like I am) then follow these tips for the cheapest (and best) way to see the glacier!


-The glacier is located about 12 miles from downtown Juneau (the cruise ports as well). There is a city bus that goes from downtown to a mile from the glacier for just $2.

-The bus ride is about 45 minutes. However, you will get to see Juneau from a local perspective and get some wonderful views of the mountains.

-If you take a bus with one of the tour companies, you will pay around $45 just for the bus ride there. There is a bit of a walk from the city bus top to the glacier. If you are not able to walk long distances, the tour group might be your best option.

-If you do take the city bus, the walk to the glacier is absolutely beautiful. The road to the glacier takes you through the Tongass National Forest and is such a lovely walk.

-Once you arrive at the visitor area for viewing the glacier, you can walk down to the beach to get a better view.

-You will see signs to pay a fee to see the glacier, that fee only applies if you enter the visitor’s center. There is no need to go inside the visitor’s center however since there are public restrooms outside.

-The best view of the glacier is by Nugget Falls. You will see signs for the fall and the hike to get there is not long.

-Bring waterproof shoes with with you! Since parts of the trail can be covered in a few inches of water and if you want to get close to the falls, you will have to wade through a bit of water. I did not bring waterproof shoes but I successfully jumped from rock-to-rock and made it across dry.

-Since it is usually foggy in Juneau in the morning (if not all day), planning your trip to the glacier in the afternoon is better.

-The National Forest in the surrounding area has several great hiking trails. So be sure to leave time to explore those as well!

Have anything to add to this list? Let me know here!

Check out a few of my pictures from the Mendenhall Glacier: