First named Auke Glacier in 1879 by Naturalist John Muir for the Aak'w Kwaan of the Tlingit tribe, Mendenhall Glacier was subsequently renamed in 1892 for the noted scientist Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894. Thomas Mendenhall was responsible for surveying the boundary between Canada and Alaska.
The Mendenhall Glacier is only one of the 38 glaciers that flow from a 5,000 sq. mile expanse known as the Juneau Icefield. This glacier is proceeding down a 13 1/2 mile slope toward Mendenhall Lake, bringing with it "rock flour," the by-product of the glacier's grinding of rocks on its way down. The glacier actually started to retreat (reduce in size) in the mid-1700's. At the glacier's terminus of Mendenhall Lake, the ice retreats at a rate of 100 to 150 ft. per year.
The first Mendenhall Glacier Visitor' Center was constructed in 1962 and remodeled in 1999. Check out the Visitor's Center for more information on the history, geology and facts about the glacier. The admission price of $3 is the same in 2012 as it was when we visited in 2004!! The center includes various exhibits, a gift shop and the film, "Magnificent Mendenhall." National Park Rangers are there and at the glacier to answer questions, and conduct guided hikes on the 6 trails in the area. You'll also find the answer here to questions like "Why is the ice blue?" At the lake there is also a Salmon viewing Platform to observe sockeye and coho salmon in their natural enviornment and where you can learn about their spawning behavior.
Restrooms are available, but there was no food service at the Visitors Center when we visited.
8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Sun-Sat
Open on Federal Holidays
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Thurs-Sun
Closed on Federal Holidays
I've been out to the glacier many times over the years. My daughter lives less than a mile away. Visitors I've run into remark that this is the best view they have had of a glacier so far during their Alaskan travels.
The glacier is an easy drive from downtown Juneau. Buses are available from the cruise ship docks for $7 each way (in 2008). I hear you can take a city bus for even less but they stop at least a mile short of the visitor's center.
The visitor center is interesting, but a nice way to avoid the crowds is to hike to the falls at the right side of the glacier. About a mile over fairly flat and sandy trails during the summer when the water level of the lake is lower. UPDATE: In the summer of 2010 a new trail has been established to provide easier access. Nicer walking surface but now more people will take the short hike.
Keep in mind that this is black bear country. Exercise caution in the early morning , late evening times when there aren't many folks around. Make noise in the bushes so you don't surprise them.
We took a tour which included a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier, the walking tracks nearby and the Visitor Centre. The glacier is right in front of you and only about 600 metres from the Visitor Centre which allows you to obtain a great view and photo shoot, particularly handy for older people who find it hard to walk distances.
We walked the bush tracks down to the waters in front of the glacier, it looked huge when you were very close to it. As we were there late afternoon this was as close as we could get and I am unsure whether you can get any closer on a guided tour.
The glacier is the centrepiece of a very beautiful scene and is well worth visiting.
The Mendenhall Glacier is a huge glacier that flows into an inlet in the northern suburbs of Juneau. It is about 12 miles long, beginning in the Juneau Icefield, and ending in Mendenhall Lake, the source of the Mendenhall River. The Glacier is administered by the Tongass National Forest.
This is definitely an experience of a lifetime!
Our trip was organised by the cruise company, but it can also be arranged independently - you would need to get a cab to the contol centre.
On arrival, you are provided with snow shoes and briefed about the trip. It is not possible to take any bags on the helicopter, so a communal locker is provided. If you have a lot of camera equipment, it is best to be selective about what you take.
The helicopter trip takes about 20 minutes; the views are stunning (your trip will be cancelled if the weather isn't reasonably clear). An excellent moment is when you fly over the top of the glacier and can see the camp below. All the dogs have kennel boxes laid out in rows, the dogs sit on top of the boxes and bark manically as the helicopter lands.
Once on the glacier, you are introduced to the musher and the dog team. The dogs are desperate to get going, it is reassuring to know how much they love to run! Each team pulls 2 connected sleds and 4 people including the musher. Each visitor has the opportunity to guide the second sled. It's quite hair raising, and there is every possibility that you will fall off! Don't worry, it's quite a soft landing!
If you don't take a camera, one of the staff will take a photo of you which is ready to purchase just before you leave.
If you can afford to do this, you must do it - book early!!
The Mendenhall Glacier is almost everyone's most lasting memory of Juneau. Its 12 mile long and 1 1/2 mile wide, 1500 sq. mile expanse that will leave you breathless - bring your camera and lots of film (dress warm too). It challenges your since of scale and perspective. If you walk the short trail to the powerful Nugget Falls, or just watch others walking that trail from Glacier Point Overlook you will see what I mean. The interperative talk at Glacier Point was also very informative. There is a very nice national forest visitor's center at the glacier that charges $2 to watch the film and tour the impressive exhibits and viewing room. The glacier itself is free.
It is just a short 7-mi. drive along State Route 7 and the Mendenhall Loop road to the glacier. If you are staying at the Best Western Country Lane it is only a four mile cab ride or you may talk them in to a courtesy shuttle ride.
If you need transportation from a downtown area hotel to the glacier, the best bet is probably Mendenhall Glacier Transport's 2 hour tour. It cost only $15. Take this tour right from the cruise ship dock downtown. Across from Taku Smokeries. For $25 you can also get a bus tour of the city with the glacier transportation.
Capitol City Buses - Public Transportation4
The Capitol transit's city buses will also take you within two miles of the glacier on the Lemon Creek Mendenhall Valley Route. You will have to get off at Mendenhall Valley/Boulevard and walk the roadside trail for two miles to the glacier. $2.90 If you use the city bus to get to Auk Bay Ferry terminal you will also have two mile walk, as the bus only goes as far as Deharts Store at the Auk Bay Boat Harbor.
Mendenhall Glacier is only 12miles from Juneau.
Do not do a tour as we did, it was a waste of money, all you need to do is catch a bus from Juneau. (which is a lot cheaper and you see the same)
The Mendenhall glacier is retreating at what I thought, was quite a fast rate.
Inside the National Park centre, there was a very interesting, informative Glacier Museum, which had a good display all about Glacier's. From here, there was also an excellent view.
There is an admission charge for this area of $3 Adults, Children under 16 are free.
OPEN.....Summer daily 8am-7:30pm; winter Thurs-Sun 10am-4pm
This Glacier is fed from an icefield high above Juneau, is very old as it was formed in the "Little Ice Age," which began about 3,000 years ago. The glacier flows for 12 miles down the Mendenhall Valley to its end, just by the visitor center.
"Calving" does occur naturally, and we were hoping to see it happen, but didn't! We did see the icebergs floating in Mendenhall Lake.
This is a Glacier that anybody can view.
We found so many great vantage points, and we walked around to the nearby waterfall that was flowing very fast. There is a longer trail loop to two fairly steep, 3.5-mile hikes that approach each side of the glacier.
It really is a pretty area, so try and come if you can.
The Mendenhall glacier has been receding since the late 1700's and currently retreats at a rate of 25-30 feet per year.
You must visit the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier, which is located only a few miles away from Juneau. Any taxi cab could take you there, or you could hire a tour, and it's one of the visits you can't miss. And yes, this picture IS mine - I mean, it's me who made it and it's not a postcard! Yippee!
We hiked to a glacier!! WOW!! This is amazing. You can see the marks of where the glacier has been moving. Each year it is receding back faster and faster. Kind of scary! From May through September, you'll pay a $3 admission fee to go into the visitor center, otherwise its Free! The glacier is the most yummy blue color..Yes I'm a blueberry fan, so blue is yummy!
This is a must visit if you come to Juneau. It's one of Juneau's most natural attractions. The typical touristy type of thing to see here, among other things. There are little kiosks that cater to booking bus trips here. For me they were either free or I paid like 8 dollars at the most, but I'm a crewmember off a cruise ship so I got those discounts. For regular tourists I would expect to maybe pay a bit more.
Located a short 20 minutes from the centre of town, Mendehall Glacier has a terrific vista, flat walking trails, waterfalls, "icebergs" and wildlife, including bears and salmon.
The coach pulled up into the car park and you could see this spectacular Glacier without even getting off the coach! (But why would you!)
Anne and I spent a fantastic 2 hours walking around the lake and taking in the sensational atmosphere that this peaceful place had to offer.
It is about a 3.5 mile trip to the base of Mendenhall Glacier. I shouldn't have to explain why this is such a cool thing to do, you get to touch a glacier! The hike is mostly moderate level until the part where you need to engage in a little cliff/rock climbing (no gear neccessary) to get to the actual ice.