There’s plenty for low-key, run-of-the-mill visitors to see in Juneau, but you might want more than tram rides and food tours: you might be seeking the ultimate adventure. In that case, break out your hiking boots and keep reading for three awesome adventure ideas.
1. Get crazy close to wild grizzly bears
Nothing encapsulates the rugged spirit of the Alaskan wilderness like the grizzly bear. Adult males weigh between 400 and 790lbs and the bears will eat up to 25 fish a day to prepare for hibernation.
You can book a tour and fly to Admiralty Island, known as “Kootznoowoo” in the Tlingit language, which translates to “Fortress of the Bear(s).” The island is indeed home to an estimated 1,600 brown bears, one of the largest concentrations in Alaska or Canada. The bears roam freely through forests, across beaches and up and down alpine slopes.
It might sound like a visitor’s dream, but you won’t find many visitors here. The number of visitor permits are extremely limited to protect the bears and their habitat. The bears have learned to tolerate humans, but they’re very much wild animals.
Book a tour and fly out to Admiralty Island with your dedicated wilderness guide. Learn safety protocols and get your gear on before you walk along the beach and, if conditions are right, take a two-mile hike through the forest to the upper creek area. You can watch bears foraging, chasing salmon and napping. Seeing these majestic creatures in the wild is unforgettable, and the fact that you don’t have to navigate through hordes of visitors to do it makes this adventure that much more special.
2. Paddle around Tracy Arm
There are lots of beginner-level kayak tours available in Juneau, but if you want to get serious then you should definitely check out the Tracy Arm Kayak Expedition. Spend three days and two nights paddling and camping, exploring Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. You’ll discover deep fjords, waterfalls, see a calving glacier, navigate through drifting icebergs and see some curious seals.
You’ll paddle roughly 20 – 35 miles over three days. Though you’re responsible for powering your kayak, the tour company will provide a guide, kayak, transportation to and from your local accommodations, kayaking equipment, camping equipment, meals and beverages. If you want to go hard in the Alaska wilderness, you won’t find a more exhilarating and hassle-free experience.
3. Go on – and inside – the Mendenhall Glacier
Many people who visit Juneau make sure to take a look at the Mendenhall Glacier, but far fewer explore all the wonders of this monolithic masterpiece.
Book a tour and paddle across Mendenhall Lake, which is full of icebergs and offers stunning views from the water. Along the way, your guide will tell you all about the Glacier, Alaskan history and the traditions of the area’s first nations. Once you reach the Mendenhall Glacier, you can hike up it and take in a 360-degree view of pristine wilderness. If conditions are right, you’ll even have a chance to explore ice caves before you paddle back to solid ground.
Juneau, Alaska is less than two hours from Seattle via direct flight and hardcore adventure is only one of its attractions. You can also whale watch from a charter boat, visit local breweries and browse unique shops in the gloriously walkable downtown area.
To learn more and start planning your Alaska adventure, visit traveljuneau.com.