In the 1880s, when prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris founded the capital of Alaska, the town was known for its massive gold mines. But today, the city has become much more famous for its glaciers, whale watching, majestic mountain ranges, and dog sledding. On your next cruise to Alaska, add these five Juneau shore excursions to your must-see list:
1. Mendenhall Glacier
The Juneau Icefield flows from the town of Skagway, Alaska, to the Taku River, for a total of 1,500 square miles. Among the most impressive glaciers flowing through the ice field is the massive Mendenhall Glacier. When you set foot inside one of its ice caves, paddle down Mendenhall Lake, or explore the iceberg research station, you'll quickly see why this natural marvel is one of the most popular attractions in southeast Alaska. With gorgeous hiking opportunities, your vacation won't be complete without an excursion to this breathtaking site.
2. Whale Watching
If you want to witness whales gliding through their natural habitats, Alaska is the place to be. Juneau offers plenty of whale watching, as they love to travel through cold Alaskan waters in distinct pods. The types of whales you'll see when you're in Juneau will depend on the time of year you visit: If you cruise to Alaska between April and November, you'll likely see one of the approximately 600 humpbacks that thrive along the Inside Passage. Whales will inhabit the waters throughout the year, however, so there's always a chance for you to observe these creatures up close.
3. Glacier Flightseeing
Why sightsee when you can flightsee? Flightseeing, also known as flight touring, grants you a bird's-eye view of the beauty infused into Alaska's natural landscapes. And you'll especially love exploring Juneau by plane or helicopter. Take this chance to view the deep crevasses and other glacial formations that you can't make out by sightseeing on land.
4. Mount Roberts Tramway
Trams are a classic way to take in mountain views. From the Mount Roberts Tramway, you'll see Juneau from high above as rise 1,800 feet in the air, climbing Mt. Roberts. Along the way, you'll have breathtaking views of the Gastineau Channel and surrounding mountains.
5. Dog Sledding
It's not a trip to Alaska without dog sledding — and there's no better place to experience the excitement of the sport quite like Juneau. On your Alaska cruise, you can spend time at the dog sled summer camp — arguably one of the best places to experience these fabulous dogs firsthand. This is a unique opportunity to join a small group and learn everything you need to know about the pups behind the musher.