We will be stopping in Juneau during our one-way Princess cruise this July. We are planning on Kayaking while we are there and another priority is to walk on mendenhall glacier. I have read so much about the visitor's center as well as helicopter flights onto the glacier (not really an option, as we're planning a floatplane trip into misty fjords and that will be our "expensive" excursion), but it is unclear to me if you can actually walk onto the glacier without a helicopter or other tour. Does anyone know if you can just walk onto the glacier on your own?
NO you will have NO access to Mendenhall Glaicer from the visitor center side. Only viewing. They do usually have chunks of ice out on the fence however.
If glacier contact is a priority, I strongly suggest you consider a glacier trekk 2 hours northeast of Anchorage with MICA guides (or NOVA is also recommended by others). By all means EXTEND your time in Alaska- you are missing out on excellent opportunities if you don't.
Yes, you can walk on the Mendenhall Glacier. It will mean you have to take a cab over to the "skaters cabin" area (opposite side of the Mendenhall Lake from the visitors center) and hike for several hours. The trail (west glacier trail) will take you right to the glacier. Crampons and/or ice pick (or golf shoes with spikes) should be taken. Even a rope is not a bad idea. It is VERY slippery!!