Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and is located in Alaska's stunning panhandle and one of the many places to see in the state. It is named after a gold prospector from Quebec named Joe Juneau and has previously been known as Rockwell and then Harrisburg. Today it is a very popular location for passengers from cruise ships as they sail up the utterly stunning West Coast.
One thing that sets Juneau apart from other capitals in the United States is that it is isolated. There are no roads connecting the city to the outside world. To get to the capital of the state, one must fly - it's a testament to how large, impregnable, and beautiful the mountains around the city are.
What To Know Before Visiting Juneau
The terrain around the city is extremely rugged and just waiting to be explored. Functionally in terms of transportation, Juneau is an island (due to the lack of road access) and it is arguably just about the most stunning capital state city in the United States.
- Population: 31,000 For Juneau
Another attribute about this city is that the tides are uncommonly high - reaching some 16 feet. The mountains are not especially high, only rising to some 3,500 to 4,000 feet, but still at this far north it is enough for them to be covered with glaciers.
One of the most stunning attractions here is the Juneau Icefield. This is a massive mass of ice and it feeds a whopping 30 glaciers flowing from it. Motorists on the roads around Juneau can see two of these glaciers - namely the Lemon Creek Glacier and the Mendenhall Glacier. A trip to the Juneau Icefield is a trip to another world. It extending north into neighboring British Columbia of Canada and encompasses an area of some 1,500 square miles.
- Enjoy: Helicopter Rides To Juneau Icefield
Tourists can easily access this glacier via scenic tourist helicopter flights. On most helicopter flights tourists can land and enjoy a quick walk, normally around 800 to 4,600 feet. While there they can marvel at the massive crevasses that cut through the icefield.
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
Students of history will remember that Alaska was Russian before it was American. Juneau has an old (for the region) Russian Orthodox Church that was built in 1893. Now it is listed under the National Register of Historic Places and is an attraction to tourists interested in the city's history.
- Date Built: 1893
Juneau is on the coast and boasts rich wild marine wildlife. Tourists who come at the right time of year will be able to see the massive humpback whales and killer whales (aka orcas) that inhabit the seas off the coast of Juneau. Tourists can watch them bubble-ring feeding like as is seen in the nature documentaries.
- Duration: Most Whale Watching Tours Are 3-4 Hours
- Guarantee: Most Tour Operators Guaranteed Whale Sightings
Tracy Arm Fjord
Forget New Zealand (but still, go there for Lord of the Rings Tours away), forget Norway. America boasts some of the world's most spectacular Fjords. Only 45 miles from Juneau is a world of towering granite walls, picturesque mountains, powerful waterfalls, and mammoth-sized glaciers. Tracy Arm measures some 30 miles and is a fjord carved by glaciers. It is even populated by both an array of marine wildlife and floating icebergs. Once tourists reach the end of this narrow fjord they will be greeted with the cracking and moaning of the Sawyer Glaciers. Once every hour-ish the glaciers here "calve" and a new iceberg is born as another chunk of ice carves off the glacier.
There's no need to let the brown bears of Alaska get all the salmon. Alaska is one of the richest fishing spots in the world and has five different types of Pacific Salmon (one should check each's season). As salmon fishing is yet another thing that Juneau is famous for it has a number of professional fishing guides who will happily show you the second-best spots. Anglers have a choice of fishing by boat or being helicopter-lifted into remote and secluded fishing locations - floatplanes are also options. Juneau even has companies like Jerry’s Meats and Seafoods who will ship your prizes home for the lucky fisherman.
Just a 20-minute flight from Juneau by floatplane is Admiralty Island. This island boasts one of the world's highest brown bear densities - equalling one per square mile. It is very popular to see the bear feed at the Pack Creek Bear Sanctuary (where tourists can watch them salmon fishing). Tourists are advised to keep their eyes peeled for sea lions, whales, sea otters, Sitka black-tail deer, and other wildlife inhabiting this stunning island.
- Brown Bear Population: Approx. 1,600 On Admiralty Island
In short, there is plenty that visitors should not leave out on a trip to Alaska.