I am very excited to be cruising for the first time in August. I will be going to Alaska. My first stop is in Juneau and I am really looking forward to seeing the Mendenhall Glacier up close. Reading the posts, it seems the best shore excursion to get a close view of the Glacier is via helicoptor. Although I really want to do this excursion, it is out of my price range. Could somebody please suggest a best second option to seeing the Glacier up close? Any help would be appreciated.
The busing transports to Mendenhall Glacier puts you in close enough range to have a satisfying view......otherwise.......when you get there (via bus) you will see a water fall in the distance. If able to do some minor climbing it's possible to hike there--which will get you even closer to the glacier. Haven't done the hike; plan to in near future.
Scroll to top of this page and click on Search option; type in key words. If you schedule through any ship excursion pay close attention to time. If you do this independently you still give attention to timing but I believe you have more options of buses to return to docks. Depends on who/what company brings you there....and, of course, how many ships in Juneau that day--with most passengers wanting to view Mendenhall.
It's a good idea to write your bus number/company name down on a small pad or something as there are many buses coming and going. Buses are not allowed to stay in drop off point. Forest Service enforces rule to prevent vehicle congestion.....so driver gives a time that he/she will be back for passengers with fair (but friendly) warning not to be tardy.
Hubby and I were pleased with the $20 (per person) tours we bought upon arrival in Juneau. Many stands were set up near the base of the tram, and one had a bus leaving in about 3 minutes. Walking around at Mendenhall Glacier was great (had 45 minutes there, driver was prompt in picking us up at designated time - like scenario painted above). We had four ships in port that day, and we were only in port from 7:00ish (or 8:00?) to 1:00 (back onboard by 12:30).
For clairfication there is a shuttle to Mendenhall for $10 pp round trip. You do NOT do any climbing to get on the unofficial trail to the water fall. You just walk along the edge of the lake, if it has been raining, there will be a lot ot mud and water to go through. Best is for several dry days prior to arrival. Will take about 15 minutes from the trail.
And if the day is warm as it was in June - you'll see folks picnicing and wading in a little pond around the path to the waterfalls. The bus driver we had took us around to a little chapel on the university campus to view the glacier from there too. Inside the chapel you could sit in the pew and see the glacier - makes one wonder how much attention is paid to the chaplain on church sundays.
We saw the folks canoeing over to the glacier - too scarey for me. But it was calm water - looked effortless.
I think I paid $42 thorugh shoretrips - but you also had other stops as well as the trip directly to Mendenhall Glacier.
A better option than booking through shore trips- who is only a middle man, is to pick up a TOUR bus at the dock booths. MGT runs an excellent TOUR bus that gives a drive by downtown commentary, Mendenhall glacier stop, Chapel on the Lake at Alaska U, Douglas Island stop for $20. Long standing well run company.
This is a DIFFERENT option than the shuttle buses.
If you want more of an adventure, you can go hiking on the glacier with Above and Beyond Alaska. Becky and Sean Janes, owners and guides, were fabulous!
check out their website: http://www.beyondak.com/glaciertrekking.html
I just returned from there and the Mendenhall Glacier was one of my two excursions. We did the "off track" hike over to the waterfall and it was well worth it. It's a bit of rock scaling and stepping through low streams but it was also a blast. It gave us a better view of the huge chunks of glacier that were floating out and lots of up close photos of the waterfall and glacier itself.
The bus tour stopped at a salmon hatchery on the way - which was unexpectd. And our guide Ken Jennings (not of jeopardy fame he reminded us) was fantastic. He pointed out a bunch of bald eagles and gave us a really good guided tour up to the glacier and back. He also stopped at a great viewpoint and let us all get out and take extra post-card-esque photos.
This was a Holland America excursion btw. I think it was around thirty-five dollars?? It was a gift to me so I'm not really sure. It was well worth every cent, I think.
My roomate did the helicopter tour to a glacier and said it was the best excursion that she went on the whole trip.