Juneau, AK, USA

1-Day Juneau Guide | Mendenhall Glacier Trek Experience

Leo Chan of Levitate Style Mendenhall Glacier  Mendenhall Glacier with ABAK

When we planned our excursions in Juneau, we did not expect to have one of the most life changing experiences in this remote capital city. Accessible only by boat or plane, there are no roads connecting this city to the rest of Alaska. Despite its small stature there are plenty of things to do in Juneau, but our top recommendation is to see Mendenhall Glacier. It was here that we had the best experience of our entire trip. We stepped onto, and into, a massive glacier.

For our 7-Night Northbound Alaskan Cruise on Celebrity Cruises, we were initially debating whether to do whale watching in Icy Strait Point or Juneau. Both are known for their abundance of whales, but for us the deciding factor was that Juneau has something most places do not: a glacier. 

Above & Beyond Alaska, or ABAK, Wilderness Adventures is locally owned and they specialize  in high quality, low guide to client ratio, adventure tours for those wanting to experience the spirit of Alaska. We purchased the Glacier Canoe Paddle and Trek, a 6.5 Hour Day Trip, and cannot recommend it highly enough. We paid for this excursion ourselves, but were offered a discount by the company. The excursion is moderately difficult, but all experience levels can be accommodated. Alicia's parents both have shoulder problems, but did not have a problem with the tour. This introduction may have been a clue, but we had the most incredible time and can’t say enough good things.

Pick Up & Canoe We were picked up by the tour guides alongside the cruise port and driven a short distance to their offices. Here we were given our safety instructions and put on our gear. We went to another short distance to the canoe to access the glacier. To be honest, the 1 hour canoe ride was the most difficult part of this entire tour. Tiring, but not physically impossible. We were also given rest time when we reached the halfway point.

Beginning the Glacier Hike Once docked, we had time to rest and eat the snack boxes provided for each person. They were also extremely accommodating for Alicia and her mother’s gluten allergies. We were given further safety information, as glacier trekking can be dangerous. We felt like our safety was the number one priority from the outset.

Ice Caves
We were blessed to be able to go through not one, but TWO ice caves. The was the first time this had happened all year. Due to a glaciers ever changing landscape, it’s impossible to guarantee that you will get to see one. We were told that a glacier changes rapidly enough that a cave in the morning may be gone by the afternoon. Our guides stressed that ice caves are not guaranteed, but they do everything in their ability to ensure you can see one if available and safe.

The Trek We had 2 hours to hike around the glacier, each point offering new viewpoints. Our tour guides allowed plenty of time for photographs.


It was humbling to see such a massive structure up close and also to see first hand the effects of climate change. Our tour guides didn’t tire of answering any of our millions of questions. Not only were they knowledgeable, but excited to share what they know. We not only got to explore this amazing area, but were educated and learned more about environmental conservation first hand. Let us know if you would ever hike a glacier in the comments!

Other things to see and do in Juneau:
  • Ride the Tramway to the Top of Mount Roberts
  • Stroll through the historic town and do some shopping (we found great deals here - from jewelry, to sweatshirts, to other random memorabilia)
  • Whale Watching


  1. Wow! I have never heard of this place! This is so stunning! Thank you for sharing the photos and experience with us!
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