Alaska offers one of the world’s most breathtaking tourist sites in United States. It is a home to 850 grottos and caves, the most visited include El Captain on Prince of Wales Island, Juneau Ice Caves in Juneau and Chugach Mountain Ice Caves. Though El Captain is the most visited of them all but Juneau, enthralls you with its majestic glaciers and ever changing beauty. Juneau, apart from being the capital city of Alaska has become a hot-spot for the tourist with its captivating white beauty. There are a lot of tourist sites in Juneau, few of which are listed below.
The Majestic Mendenhall
The Mendenhall Glacier, stretching about 12 miles, 150 feet deep and about half a mile wide is located 12 miles from Juneau, South Alaska enchanting and surreal beauty. It forms one of the 38 large and around 100 small glaciers in Juneau. The ice there has got a unique structure and it tends to absorbs and reflect light such that it gives a spectacular blue color to the ice. The intensity of the blue increases in crevasses and fades away when the ice gets exposed to air and this unique crystalline structure breaks down. The way to the glacier is a strenuous one. Tourists need to hire a guide, through the West Glacier Trail, that leads to the Alaska’s spectacular ice caves. The adventure is a little difficult and takes around three to five hours. The ice caves lies in the womb of the glacier. One needs to ice climb over it to get to the caves and hope that the melting caverns won’t collapse over you. The long hike past the Mendenhall Lake will take you across two miles past rocky stream beds, to the top of Mt. McGinnis where lies an access point, closer to the ice-caves. The bedrock offers a treat for hikers.
Inside Mendenhall-The Icy Caves
The caves are made out of ice that is carved by the flowing water that runs over the rocks. What makes the site captivating is the icy ceiling that runs along the partial hollow of the glacier, in gleaming shades of blue and turquoise. Thus the actual beauty lies beneath this vast glacier.Though the ice caves are a display of one of the nature’s breathtaking beauties, it is advisable to people not to venture inside the caves as they are quite slippery and lead to nowhere. Yet people with high spirits, having a love for adventure cast about, into a totally different world of these surreal caves that keep on changing their appearance over the time as they melt and freeze. The tourists are provided with flashlights and helmets by the forest service. Tourists are advised to wear sturdy footwear and appropriate clothes suitable for the temperatures around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Tracy Arm
The Tracy Arm, more or less like a shape of arm forms a passage way through this mighty glacier, taking you to the south of Juneau. The trip is a day long and is to be done by boat or yacht. One can’t behold this ice field without marveling the floating ice and breathtakingly beautiful colors, mostly light ice blue and marble green. Visitors describe it as floating-in-a-cup-of-ice experience. You can even get a glimpse of the wildlife including seals, orcas, whales, bald eagles and even black bear. As you trace along this mighty glacier the ice bergs seem to swell in number and temperature starts dropping dramatically. The steep mountain sides, the ice-bergs, the waterfalls and the marine mammals together give a wow factor to the Tracy Arm and hovers like a magical effect until the end of the trip.
Also known as the Mendenhall Glacier Falls, it drops down from a height of 115 meters. It originates from the downstream coming from the Nugget Glacier to the finally drain into the Mendenhall Lake. One gets to see the Nugget falls while walking towards the Mendenhall Glacier. Thought you will find many glaciers on the way, this one discretely adds to the beauty of the glacier with its milk white water dropping down in two tiers, one at 30 m and other at 85 m. The beauty around prevent you from keeping your cameras inside. Hiking to the falls is quite easy. The trails are of low gradient. You can walk up to it to get a real close view of the fall, an opportunity one rarely gets with this big size of the waterfall.
Bike, hike or helicopter, you can use any means to see the splendid beauty of this enormous glacier. If hiking is tiring for you, the helicopter will land you just at the top from where you can enjoy the amazing white view, the silence and solitude spread over miles. To get most of the view, you can bike or hike along this 10 mile trip which will last for not more than 3 hours. There is a great camping spot along the trail where the river meets the banks. Tourists are advised not to get too close to the crevices and in no the face of the glacier because of the falling ice.
All tired of trekking and hiking? No worries! Alaska offers a treat to the tourists with its rich and famous brewery. Alaskan Brewing Company headquarters will give you a tour and some free tasting of their locally made beer. With a rich history of brewing, Alaskan thirst is quenched by their very own award winning beer of the Alaskan Brewery Co. People over the age of 21 are welcomed to enjoy the taste of freshly made beer at their tasting bar.