Globetrotting With The Nelsons: Things To In Juneau, Alaska

Use this Juneau travel guide as you explore icy Alaskan glaciers and hidden Juneau gems on your unforgettable trip to the biggest state in the U.S.

Globetrotting With The Nelsons: A Traveler’s Guide To Juneau, Alaska
Scott and Tina. Photo: Instagram by Silverbow Inn

Scott and Tina Nelson, my uncle and aunt, have managed Silverbow Inna boutique hotel in downtown Juneau—since May 2022. In their free time, they soar over massive glaciers in a tiny biplane or sail on choppy water in a stately tour boat. Here is your traveler’s guide with the Nelsons’ top recommendations for your memorable tour of Alaskan glaciers and mountains.

Taku Glacier Lodge

Taku Glacier Lodge juneau alaska
Taku Glacier Lodge. Photo: Facebook by Wings Airways/Taku Glacier Lodge

Start your trip by flying to Taku Glacier Lodge, a rustic resort nestled in the emerald Tongass National Forest that is only accessible by floatplane or riverboat. During your flight, gaze down on the enormous glaciers and towering peaks that crisscross the landscape, transforming it into a blue-and-white mosaic. Frigid chunks of creamy snow, dwarfed by colossal blocks of ice, bob in teal lakes far below.

“The best way to see glaciers is by air,” Tina said. “You can see the crevasses and imagine the miles they drop beneath the earth. Look at the veins of blue running through the glaciers and think of the 30-plus miles the glacier travels back from its lake opening to the depths of the mountain.”

Upon reaching the lodge, enjoy a feast of wood-fired salmon, reindeer sausage and black beans. After lunch, keep an eye out for the black bears that roam the area during your 15-minute guided hike to a nearby waterfall, where a delicate cascade of silky water plunges over mossy rocks. Following your walk, soak in the beauty of the frozen glaciers from the comfort of your front porch.

“The flight view over glaciers was amazing and the lunch provided–smoked salmon cooked over an open grill, or chicken if you prefer–was bountiful and full of flavor,” Tina said. “Relaxing on the lounge chairs under the sun and taking in the peaceful setting and glorious view was an experience we savored.”

Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier Cruise

Tracy Arm Glacier Cruise
Tracy Arm Glacier Cruise. Photo: Facebook by Pearson’s Pond Luxury Suites

After surveying vast glacial formations from overhead, experience their beauty up close via the Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier Cruise, a roughly 10-hour sailing excursion that escorts you to the magnificent Sawyer Glacier.  Throughout your cruise, enjoy panoramic views of frosty inlets and teal water laced with immense floating icebergs. You may even see a glacier calve, which is when slabs of ice suddenly break off from the glacial mass and splash into the water with a cataclysmic crash.

“Boats will take you within miles of the vast wall of ice,” Tina said. “The sea air even gets cooler as the boat travels back and forth for you to get pictures from all angles. Then a thunderous roar is heard as you witness the iceberg calving. The calm bay water starts to ripple until it reaches the boat and makes you feel as though you’re riding the high waves in the open sea.”

When you’re not watching gargantuan glaciers fall to pieces just a stone’s throw from your ship, keep an eye out for the wildlife that roams the fjords.

“We saw some huge chunks of broken glacier floating about the passage with the most beautiful hue of blue,” Tina said. “We were fortunate to see whales coming up for air, a bald eagle perched atop a passing glacier, a black bear digging for its lunch along a roaring waterfall and seals basking in the sun all about the glacier bay.”

Mount Roberts

Goldbelt Tram
Goldbelt Tram. Photo: Instagram by just_inflight

The sole aerial tramway in eastern Alaska, Goldbelt Tram ascends 1,800 feet as it ferries visitors high above downtown Juneau. Hop aboard the tramway for a beautiful ride to the top of Mount Roberts, where an abundance of hiking trails await. If you are in the mood for a short hike, take the two-mile Mount Roberts Trail. For a longer trek, set out on the nine-mile Granite Creek Trail, a moderately challenging route with stunning vistas of snowy valleys.

For the Nelsons, Juneau is a gold mine of striking views and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

“We are here in the beauty of this quaint little city, nestled against lush green Mount Roberts and the Gastineau Channel with massive cruise ships at dock each day,” Nelson said. “This couples’ job position gave us an opportunity to explore Juneau, continue to engage with fellow travelers and get out of the summer heat of our SoCal home.”

Hannah Larson

Contributing Editor

A southern California native, Hannah is a traveler and thrill seeker whose love of writing is matched only by her passion for adventure. From ziplining alongside Niagara Falls to paddleboarding in Lake Itasca, she is always on the lookout for exciting experiences in beautiful places. Her favorite national parks include the Great Smokies, Sequoia and Glacier because of the spectacular mountain views.

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