What is the most economical way to see Mendenhall Glacier during our stop in Juneau? Also, any other ideas of places to visit in Juneau with family of 6? We are from So. Cal. and have seen lots of whales so we don't want a whale watching trip.
At the dock will be kiosks for tours you can take in Juneau. Find the one for the trip to Mendenhall. School type bus and about $10 each round trip. Drops you off and picks up in the parking lot at the glacier. Extra charge to enter the visitor center but not much and not necessary to see the glacier. I think they run every 1/2 hour and they should run all day, but I'd check to be sure.
We were there in May and most people just walked around on their own. There are several paths that take you up to the Glacier, and there was a huge waterfall coming out of the side of the mountain when we went. The glacier is so huge that you can see it from just about anywhere after you leave the parking lot. Great place to take photos. Several people saw a bear in the area back behind the parking lot.
You can stay as long as you want at the glacier, buses run every 30 min, and you can just catch the bus back. Your driver will tell you where he will be parked in the lot, just look for his bus and get back on. I would allow at least 2 hrs for this trip. 30 min or so driving, each way, and then at least an hour at the Glacier.
The round trip shuttle bus is $12 per person. There are several trails, but only one "path" that takes you along the edge of the Lake to the water falls. This is your closest look available, but not an official trail. There are also ranger activities that are varied and free. Take a look at the board if of interest.
Be aware, there can be significant lines for return buses, keep track if any lines and allow more time for the return.