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If one would like to explore a glacier in Alaska while on a cruise, then consider the Mendenhall Glacier. It is only around 12 miles from down Juneau and is a popular excursion for cruises in Alaska. Taking a cruise around the rugged and mystical shorelines of Alaska is one of the most stunning and rewarding ways to explore America's northern state.

The Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most stunning attractions one can see while visiting Juneau. There are other glaciers that one can see more easily, but there is also something very rewarding about hiking the challenging trail up to the Mendenhall Glacier. It is an experience visitors rank highly and never forget.


Mendenhall Glacier - The Mesmerizing Glacier Out Of Juneau

The Mendenhall Glacier is part of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. It is around 13.6 miles long and is retreating fast. The glacier has retreated around 1.75 miles since 1929 and over 2.5 miles since 1500. The end of the glacier has a negative glacier mass balance and is predicted to continue retreating for the foreseeable future.

  • Length: Around 13.6 Miles Long
  • Retreating: The Mendenhall Glacier Is In Retreat

The Mendenhall Glacier is the massive 1,500 sq mile Juneau Icefield. It is the source of over 40 large valley glaciers and over 100 smaller ones. It is a popular tourist attraction with helicopter tours.

If one is planning to visit it, the Forest Service operates the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The visitor center is a great place to learn about the glacier and the trails and attractions of the area.

  • Summer Hours: 8.00 am to 7.30 pm (May to September)
  • Winter Hours: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays (October to March)
  • Closed: April For Staff Training

The grounds around the visitor center are open from 6.00 am to midnight all through the year. From the visitor center and the surrounding area, one can enjoy stunning views of the terminus of the glacier as well as the glacier calving.

Related: 10 Photos Reveal The Highlights Of Exploring The Mendenhall Caves In Juneau, Alaska

Explore Mendenhall Glacier On A Cruise Day Excursion

For a cruise day excursion, the Mendenhall Glacier Excursion is a challenging one. The Mendenhall Glacier Trek is not an everyday adventure, but it is a rewarding one. Hike through the Tongass National Forest to this eerie blue world of ice.

The tour begins at the cruise docks or one's hotel in Juneau. Guests are transported on a scenic drive to the West Glacier Trailhead. There, guests meet their knowledgeable tour guide. Of all the Juneau tours offered by Alaska Shore Tours, this is the most physically challenging.

See deep crevasses and moulins as well as emerald green pools and fridge meltwater streams.

This excursion begins with a 3.5-mile hike through the Alaskan rainforest along the shores of Mendenhall Lake. The trail starts off as easy but gets more strenuous as it goes long. At the end of the hike, there is a rock scramble that takes people up to the top.

  • Hiking: 7-8 Miles Return (On Rough Terrain)

The Mendenhall Glacier is receding day by day; this is causing drastic changes to the surface of the glacier. This means it is no longer safe to walk on the glacier and the tour now instead spends time exploring the glacier up close and hiking about its edges from the safety of the bedrock.

  • Climbing On The Glacier: No Longer Permitted On This Tour

Don't worry, as the edges of the glacier boast some of the most stunning features - there are ice formations, tunnels, and tubes radiating stunning blue colors.

Related: Should You Plan a Hiking Tour of Glacier National Park During the Summer? Here Are the Perks

Booking The Mendenhall Glacier Tour And Restrictions

If one would like to book this tour, then plan ahead. It is common for tours to completely sell out when a cruise ship enters port, so be sure to book it well in advance.

  • Cost: $199.00 (No Child Rate)
  • Duration: 8 Hours
  • Minimum Age: 10 Years and Over
  • Pick Up: The Cruise Docks Or Juneau Hotel

This excursion is not for everyone. Note that for this trip, participants need to weigh under 250 lbs or 113 kg and be fit enough to hike for over seven hours. One will be covering over 8-9 miles of strenuous terrain while carrying a 10-15 pound backpack.