With just 32,000 people, Juneau is small enough to see in a couple of days. Downtown is characterised by wall-to-wall souvenir shops and jewellery stores. Sadly, we were told, few of these are locally owned, with many being run by the same cruise ship multi-nationals which deliver thousands of eager tourists through their doors every day throughout the summer.
|Cruise ships and uninspiring architecture define the downtown area.|
Parking in downtown Juneau is a nightmare. On our first day there a very helpful parking officer gave us directions to a small parking lot on Nth Franklin Street where we got the very last vacant spot on the entire continent.
Even walking is a challenge. Near where the cruise ships berth, the city employs a small army of lollipop ladies (and guys) to police the pedestrian crossings in an effort to keep pedestrians and cars apart. With tourists constantly stopping, changing direction and spilling off the footpaths on to the road, the system is only marginally better than total chaos. In Sydney we have a saying, 'Like Pitt Street on a Saturday morning' - think Pitt Street and multiply it by a hundred. However don't let the crowds put you off Juneau entirely. There is a lot to see and most of it is pleasantly crowd free.
The Mendenhall Glacier.
Just outside of town you will find the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. It is so accessible that you can see it without leaving your car or better yet an easy fifteen minute walk along the Nugget Falls Trail brings you so close to the glacier's foot that you can feel the suddenly plumetting air temperature. The glacier empties into a glistening blue lake dotted with mini-icebergs.
|The magnificent Mendenhall Glacier|
If you are feeling energetic follow the East Glacier Trail for views from above. Make sure you return to the carpark via the Steep Creek Trail. We discovered a porcupine, or he discovered us, right next to the trail and on a second visit we followed a deer along for several minutes. Never having seen a porcupine before we had to use google to discover what sort of animal he was. At first we thought he was a beaver.
Click here for a map of the trails.
|Don't laugh but we had to use google to find out what sort of animal this was. At first we thought he was a beaver. Cute isn't he!|
|This little guy shared the trail with us for a while.|
Glacier Bay National Park.
Whether you cruise to it, go by boat tour or fly over it, whatever you do do not miss Glacier Bay National Park. This is the jewel in the crown of South East Alaska. I am not even going to try to describe the magic of Glacier Bay. I will just let my camera do the talking.
|Close up on a glacier from above.|
|We were lucky enough to see this glacier calve.|
Note: The closest jumping off point to Glacier Bay National Park seems to be Gustavus but Gustavus is itself remote and not accessible by road.
The Shrine of St Therese.
Dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of Alaska, the Shrine of St Therese is 22 miles north of Juneau. With it's little Chapel set in the woods the Shrine makes for a lovely afternoon's excursion.
|The Shrine of Saint Therese|
|Neither the eagle, the whale nor the bear stuck around to be photographed but this guy did.|
|And so did this little guy - pretty sure he's a marmot.|
Juneau, the capital of Alaska is situated on the coast of the Alaskan panhandle. Although it is on the mainland it is not accessible by road. It has a population of 32,000.
Other things to do:
The Tracy Arm Fjord - We did not see Tracy Arm while we were in Juneau, however judging by the photos I have seen it is well worth a visit.
For something a little more low key take a walk along the shores of Auke Lake. The lake is 10 miles north-east of Juneau. Look across the lake and you'll see float planes parked in front of houses in the same way people in other places park cars.
Drive past the Governor's Mansion and see where Sarah Palin once lived.
|The Governor's Mansion|
For all my posts on our Alaska/Canada road trip click - here
For more photos of Juneau click - here
17 July 2015