Thursday 26th June Juneau
We docked at 8am. No roads lead to Juneau. Accessible only by air and water in the heart of Alaska's Inside Passage. Juneau is located at the foot of grand mountain peaks on the Gastineau Channel, the town has the massive Mendenhall Glacier and the immense Juneau Icefields at its back door. It is home to a rich Gold Rush history, Native culture, wildlife, and a wealth of natural wonders. We visited the Mendenhall Glacier which is 19 kms long and located in Mendenhall Valley about (19 km) from downtown Juneau. The glacier and surrounding landscape is protected as the 5,815-acre Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest. There were beautiful walking tracks to the base of the glacier and the Nugget Falls Waterfall which are downstream of the Nugget Glacier, the waterfall drops 115m in two tiers of (30 m) and (85 m) onto a sandbar in Mendenfall Lake which is the freshwater pool at the face of the Mendenhall Glacier.
We visited the Mendenhall Glacier visitors centre and watched a movie and then continued to downtown Juneau for a city highlights tour. Then we went to the Mount Roberts tramway which is an aerial tramway located just south of downtown Juneau. It has been in operation since 1996 and the tram makes a six minute ascent of the 1164 metre Mount Roberts from the cruise ship docks making it one of the most vertical tramways in the world. We had lunch in the Timberline Bar and Grill restaurant and visited the nature centre and the retail shops. The views were spectacular of the City and the Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island and the community of Douglas to the west, the Chilkat Mountain range to the north and Kupreanof Island to the south. On our way back to our cruise ship we did some shopping along the strip mall and visited the Red Dog Saloon. The Red Dog Saloon was founded during Juneau's mining era, the Saloon has been in operation for decades. For a time, Ragtime Hattie played the piano in white gloves and a silver dollar halter top. Later in territorial days, the owners would often meet the tour boats at the docks with a mule that wore a sign saying, "follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon." There is some historical memorabilia here. Wyatt Earps' pistol that he checked but failed to claim on his way to Nome is in a picture frame over the bar. The floor of the saloon is covered in saw dust, the waitresses are dressed in "ragtime" costume and the piano player was very entertaining. After a few drinks we made our way back to our cruise ship and our next destination is Ketchikan.