Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Juneau, Alaska

Aerial view of Juneau, Alaska, from atop the local tram on an unusually sunny day.
Aerial view of Juneau, Alaska, from atop the local tram on an unusually sunny day.

As the only state capital in America inaccessible by road, Juneau, Alaska, sports beautiful vistas and glacier views. Before your next cruise vacation to this remote capital, really get to know Juneau by checking out these top 10 facts.

1. Juneau, Alaska, has been renamed twice.

In 1880, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris were prospecting for gold and came across nuggets "as large as beans" along Gold Creek in what is now Juneau. A mining camp formed, and within a year, it became a small town called Harrisburg. That name was soon changed to honor the naval lieutenant commander stationed there, Charles Rockwell. In 1881, the miners changed the town's name again, this time to honor Juneau.

2. Juneau is big.

With a total area of 3,255 square miles, Juneau, Alaska, is one of the largest municipalities in the United States and the largest capital in the US by area. The municipality is larger than Rhode Island and encompasses part of a glacier field.

3. Juneau's the place to go for midnight sun.

On June 21, the longest day of the year, there are 18 hours and 18 minutes of full daylight. The sun dips below the horizon for a few hours, from approximately 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., but its rays never stop shining on Juneau.

4. Juneau is inaccessible by road.

When you look at a map, it may seem strange that Juneau was named the state capital in 1906, since residents who wish to talk to their local representatives need to either fly or take a ferry to reach them.

5. Juneau has been called the nation's most wired capital.

The state capital has invested in cutting-edge tools to help citizens all over Alaska stay in touch with their capital without ever having to leave home. Because Juneau is so far removed from the rest of the state — and only 20 percent of Alaska is accessible by road — residents can call in to listen to any committee meetings and/or live stream all committee meetings.

6. Juneau is a wild place.

Juneau is home to 280 species of birds, brown and black bears, five species of salmon, and whales (primarily humpback and orca). Although you may not see them all on your next Alaskan cruise, Juneau is well known for its incredible wildlife — both on land and by sea.

7. Juneau is popular.

In a given year Juneau can receive as many as 900,000 cruise ship passengers and an additional 100,000 independent travelers.

8. There's no place like Juneau.

While visiting Alaska's state capital on your next Alaskan vacation, you should check out the Wizard of Oz statues made by local company Reliable Sheet Metal.

9. Juneau is metropolitan.

Supporting the state's premier theater company, clubs and bars, and numerous restaurants (from casual fare to fine dining), Juneau offers a little something for everyone.

10. Juneau's nearest neighbor is an enormous ice field.

Atop the local mountains is a giant ice field from which about 30 glaciers flow. The most famous of these glaciers is the Mendenhall Glacier, which can be seen from the local road system.

Get to know Juneau even better on an Alaskan cruise by checking out all the sights to see.