Tracy Arm is a fjord not far from Juneau. Shore excursions transfer to a smaller boat mid-channel and, if the conditions are right, get closer to a glacier than the large ship can. The outlet is located at 57° 46' 40" N 133° 37' 0" W
Expect the wacky and wild in Juneau. On the way to the Alaskan Brewery Company we ran into this industrial building with the most outlandish series of characters on the roof. It seems the owner had made copies of all the Wizard of Oz characters and placed them on the roof of his building. Quite a site!
Then over in the West Juneau area, on the other side of the Juneau Douglas Bridge we ran into the strangest fence I have seen in some time. The owners of a rural estate have assembled over 500 pairs of skis and made them into a fence along their property. I guess ski swaps are not very successful in Juneau.
On the second morning of our Alaska cruise we woke to the announcement that we would be entering Tracy arm at 7:30 and for those interested in viewing and taking photos an excellent view can be obtained from the bow, 3rd deck.
Our first photos were of Sun Dum glacier and then we sighted countless icebergs of all sizes and shapes. At the waters edge the mountains of rock rose sharply with small glaciers and streams entering the sea. It was cold on deck but we did not initally feel the cold as we were absorbed with the scenery.
Late afternoon we took a whale watching tour from Auke Bay marina. Our boat was large with the capacity to seat up to 100 people and plenty of deck space to enjoy the sea air and look for whales.
The boat set off at a high speed, close to 30 knots per hour and went up the Favourite Channel to Berryman Island approximately 20 miles away. We managed to sight some whales but they were at least a mile away and only surfaced for 5 or 10 seconds each time. They looked very small on the horizon and even smaller on my camera which has 12 by zoom.
The whale sightings were a disappointment, however the tour included a very lavish buffet dinner which was some consolation.
The tour included a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier which was excellent, all up cost $160 per person.
This is located not far from town. It's best if you go on some kind of excursion, whether from the kiosks near town that cater to excursions or onboard the cruise ship. On this particular excursion, I just hiked up along the Tongass Forest, looking at all the beauty that makes this place very unique. Your tour guide can point out some blueberries too much and much more as well.
On Douglas Island there are lots of trails to wander on. One we found along the beach goes up to where they shoot the gun to create avalanches! If you can have someone guide you to that trail, you will find several deserted buildings, and really cool old things hidden like lost treasures! There is a safe parking lot where we started the walk...so I know its a semi known place!
The actual shrine was about a quarter mile walk on to an island with a land bridge. Here was a church made of stone in the middle of the woods with Eagles calling overhead, seals in the water and small waves lapping the shore...this was a beautiful setting. If you walk around in the Shrine, you can read about the place. Upstairs you can get a nice view of the place. I think we found a marker of someone buried in the front of the pews. There was some information by the door about the marker.
When I was a little kid, we were in Colorado and went to the Coors (I think) Brewing company.
The Alaskan Brewing Company isn’t ANYTHING like that. The Alaskan Brewing Company is a pretty good micro-brew that I know they sell on the west coast, but I don’t know where else. I’ve heard rumors that the Amber is the biggest export and that the Pale is more favored by Alaskans. Since I prefer the Alaskan Stout, I really can’t say.
There isn’t very much to this “tour” you can see the facility, which is really small while you are sipping on your sample choice of beer. I find it very interesting to look at the display of beer bottles they have from around the world. So at least this saying is true “So many beers, so little time”!
At the brewing company you can also buy your standard “memorabilia”: t-shirts, pint glasses.
As a reminder, you have to be 21 to enter this facility!
FOOTNOTE: Beer tasting as a Luxury? I got a good laugh out of that.
Go up Franklin to 7th Street & find a road down to the park. Take a path heading into the mountains & along the creek. Gold Creek is the foundation of Juneau, which began as a tent city of prospectors, panning for gold in this creek. Paths, including wooden walkways, go for miles into the mountains & forests.
If you can, just drive around and there are many chances to see black bear, Bald Eagles, beautiful and bountiful forests, and other areas that are just fun to 'chance upon.' The day before I left, we spotted a black bear off the side of a major road, but my camera couldn't zoom in close enough for a good picture.
Head out past the airport towards Auke Bay to mile maker 23 (I think) to St Theresas Shrine. There is a small chapel hidden in the trees on an outcrop and the views are spectacular. There is a lovely peaceful atmosphere here and a rocky beach which is teeming with life. Look out for bat starfish - the colours are amazing. Lots of little crabs, sea anenomies etc too.
What a trip, we kayaked to shelter Island the first day and hooked up with my brothers Professor friends that were building a house inland on the island,..by hand!!!! Hung out on the western shoreline and drank beer, played some guitar and harmonica and watched the sun dip behind the Chilkat Mountains as the big cruise ships went by that evening fully lighted.
Went to Admiralty Island the next day, the north end and went into the first little bay hoping to see some whales, my brother has seen them before. hung out on the island for only an hour and than headed back across the straits to the bay straight out from Shelter island,..Caution,..know your tides table,...bad news going against the tide!!!!
Many people not from here dont realize the amazing opportunity that exists just a mile up the hill from downtown. From the cruise ship docks, head up Franklin St. till you meet 4th St., hang a right and take a left and head up the hill till you get to the top of the street, then make your way to Basin Rd. After a short walk you will come to a wooden bridge and then a dirt road that heads back into a narrow mountain valley. At the end of the road you will find mine ruins and the trail head for Perseverance Trail. Follow this trail for amazing views of the lower valley you just came up, Gold Creek that flows through this valley and the towering walls of the mountains that surround you. Further on the trail you will encounter Ebner Falls, great photo oppurtunity as Gold Creek falls off the side of a cliff creating a massive waterfall. Your jounery further down the trail will lead you into the upper mountain valley known as Silverbowl Basin. Here the upper mountain valley opens up into a teeming forrest and meadows, while you follow the trail that closely hugs Gold Creek. Shortly after you pass the double bridges that span Gold Creek you will come across the stepping area where Gold Creek flows down a slope where the rocks make it appear like it's flowing down a step. Also you will find a side trail leading the Glory Hole a deep (understatement) hole carved (with tons of TNT) into the ground from when there was a mine operating up here. At the end of the trail you will find yet another amazing waterfall (Better than Ebner if you ask me), some mine ruins, and one amazing view of the valley you just hiked up. If you do this one later in the day when the sun is in the west, the light that it cast on the valley makes it appear as the whole place is on fire. Make sure if youre gonna head up here to wear good shoes, as I said it's a hike and there are some sharp drop offs early on that you should watch out for. Oh, and bears can be found up here, so keep an eye out (only during the early morning or late evening)
For a different view of Juneau, take a walk across the bridge to the town on the other side of the Gastineau Channel, Douglas. It's a nice way to get some exercise and enjoy the scenery, and the view of Juneau from across the bridge is very rewarding.
After visiting Juneau catch a ferry north to a town called Skagway. It's about a 4 hour ferry ride, and the views along the way are magnificent.