WARNING: don't sit inside the Whale Watching Boat... if you do, you won't see a thing! Don't be a wimp - wear a warm coat and get on deck! You don't see half of the action sitting inside drinking hot cocoa - get up, get out, and you'll see the wildlife you were hoping to see!
Devil's Club is omnipresent in the coastal forest. It's large leaves, grow up to a foot in diameter. The stalks are fitted with poisoness sharp spines that fester and make a painful sore if they become embedded in your skin. Wear long pants for all coastal hiking.
The restaurants we tried in downtown Juneau were both great. The ones we tried out of town in Auke Bay and the other outlying areas were mediocre at best, even the ones that were crowded. The breakfast at Donna's was the worst either of us had ever received at a restaurant. Sorry, Donna's, but true. We recommend trying places recommended in VT -- we will certainly try more of those next time!
When walking or hiking trails be aware that this is bear country and there is a chance you may see one on the trail. Some easy precautions will help you keep safe, the first being make some noise as you walk, this will scare the bear away.
Should you come across a bear do not turn and run, just stand where you are, make noise and wave your arms as the bear has poor eyesight the waving arms makes you look much larger and the bear will wander off.
Generally keep at least 100 metres from the bear.
Whilst walking one of the hiking trails on Mount Roberts we we saw a prominent notice warning that avalanches do occur in this area. I would think there is a good chance of avalanche in any of the Alaskan mountains.
This tip is in relation to my 'Things to do' tip of the same title.
Be warned that, if the weather is not good, or looks like it might turn for the worst, your pre-booked dog sledding trip may be cancelled. Money is refunded, but it is still very disappointing. It is better to be prepared for the worst, as when we visited Juneau, we didn't even consider cancellation to be a possibility. We were lucky, and had a fantastic experience but lots of other people had their sledding cancelled in Skagway.
It may be possible to book on another, later flight to the glacier, but often the helicopters are full.
Remember when you travel around the National Parks, that these are the homes of wild animals, BEARS, WOLVES, not zoo animals, not pets, and they could appear out of nowhere. So be careful when enjoying a glacier or a river, and be aware of your surroundings. Leave nature alone, and maybe the wild animals will leave you alone.
Bear sightings in Juneau are about as rare as the rain that falls. Almost all the sightings are from black bears. These are usually harmless (despite what Steven Colbert says) and can be made to back off if they get curious about you. Just yelling at it will likely get it to go away. We do occasionally have brown bear (grizzly) sightings but these are usually outside of town on hiking trails. I do know someone who saw one at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center so visitors should be aware that even near popular places bears may be around. Make lots of noise if you plan on hiking to let the bears know of your presence. Bear spray is also a possibility but it may or may not work. Wind may be a factor. Better than nothing though. Always remember bears with cubs are very protective. The picture is of a glacier bear which is a cross between a black bear and a brown bear. If you want more info bears, check out the Juneau Borough web site.
Juneau, like the rest of Southeastern Alaska, gets a lot of rain. Be ready for it! On the day that we were in Juneau, it rained for about 1/2 of the day. Our original plan to take a helicopter up onto the Mendenhall Glacier got washed out. However, we still managed to get plenty of sightseeing done, including the Alaska State Museum, the State Capitol building, the Mendenhall Glacier (view from the visitor's center), and an evening whale watching cruise.
Remember that as soon as you step off the boat that you are no longer on top of food chain. Wildlife is everywhere and it's not unusual to wonder into a bear downtown (usually later at night). Keep you're eyes open and stay a safe distance from the wildlife. I can recall the one summer there was a bear wondering around the upper part of downtown and these tourist were following it with their cameras, luckly the bear was able to wonder back into the woods, however those tourist probably dont realize that the bear couldve attacked them at any moment. Be smart, dont be dumb like that group of tourist.
The Department of agriculture has erected a number of fish gates in their National Parks and waterways. They open these gates when a member of staff is sitting above the opening so that they can count the number, and type, of salmon that are spawning.
This is an open invitation for bears to come to dinner!
The fish assemble in front of the gates and the bears simply take their young into the water to teach them how to catch fish! This is a great place to view the bears….but it can be dangerous!
Just about everywhere you go around Juneau you will see warning signs about bears.
It amazes me the number of tourists that see these signs as a photo opportunity to get that “action” shot.
When we visited, in August 2010, the bear activity was extensive. Mother bears were teaching their cubs how to fish and the tourists were scrambling for the best vantage points…even if it meant getting between a mother and her cub!
People die here every summer - because its beautiful and the wilderness looks safe. Here are some tips. NEVER hike off trial unless you are with someone who knows the terrain. Never hike alone - except on the most major trials. And nature can kill. Respect it and you'll be fine.
At the time and year we were there (1991), there were no problems, no crime to worry about, nothing. On a cruise I took from Juneau to Skagway, I left my bags unattended on the deck of the boat, and no one even looked at them, but things change over time.
WATCH OUT FOR THE BROWN BEARS, PEOPLE DRESSED AS MOOSES AND FISH THAT REALLY SMELLS FISHY!
MIND YOU, THE BEARS I SAW WERE VERY FRIENDLY!!