Juneau

Picture of gastineau_channel This is a view up the Gastineau Channel at the city of Juneau. We visited as a port of call on our Norwegian cruise. As seems to be typical, we did not have as much time in port as we would have liked so we had to do an abbreviated tour of the Juneau area. The channel is impassable for large ships beyond Juneau.
Picture of eagles Our next view of Juneau involved shipping containers. Lots and lots of shipping containers. At least this one had a pair of eagles on it.
Picture of juneau Our visit happened to be on the fourth of July. Should you happen to find yourself in Juneau on the 4th of July, don't expect to be able to drive from the cruise port to anything else in the city because the parade blocks most of the roads. It wasn't much of an inconvenience, we walked up to the state capitol building and caught a cab out to the glacier from there. Sadly, being a holiday, the state museum was also closed.
Picture of mendenhall_glacier Mendenhall Glacier is a prime attraction in Juneau and with good reason. It's a short ride north of the city center into the Tongass National Forest where there is a lovely visitor center. Like every glacier we've ever visited, this one is receding and receding rather quickly.
Picture of glacier_with_falls The glacier covered this entire area but as it receded it revealed more of the lake as well as Nugget Falls. The falls were revealed around 1980. The combination of the waterfall and the glacier is spectacular.
Picture of glacier_close It's a flat easy hike from the visitor center out to the sand spit at the base of the falls. This is as close as you can get to the glacier by land (and marked trail). It is possible to rent kayaks and get closer than this. From here, many of the crevasses can be seen as well as some of the deeper blue coloration.
Picture of nugget_falls It's also a bit of a splash zone to be this close to the base of the falls. When we visited there was a light rain falling anyway so some mist from the falls didn't change anything. There is a trail up above on the cliffside as well that gets close to the falls before ending. We intended to hike this originally but the rangers at the visitor center told us there was no longer much view of the glacier from up above.
Picture of trail Instead we crossed the parking lot from the lake and the glacier and hiked some of the trails in that direction. This is a rather impressive bit of rain forest and there were very few people anywhere on this side of the park. In season, there are salmon spawning in the river but it was too early in the summer for that on our visit.
Picture of rain_forest If you're into mosses, lichen and mushrooms then this is the place for you. If you're not into them it's still worth a visit for the fantasy forest scenes.

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