Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures#4 in Best Things To Do in Juneau
Located between downtown Juneau and its airport, the Glacier Gardens offer a glimpse into Alaska's frequently forgotten rainforest. Here, you'll ride through 50 acres of lush vegetation aboard a golf cart. Within the botanical garden, visitors savor the view atop Thunder Mountain with Mendenhall Valley, Mendenhall Wetlands, Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island and the Chilkat Mountains in the distance.
Most recent travelers enjoyed their experience at the garden, praising the gorgeous blooms and views as reasons to schedule a visit. Reviewers were especially impressed with the garden's "upside down trees" or "flower towers." These are trees that have had their tops buried in the ground and their roots positioned up in the air, which creates a basket for the tree's blooming flowers. The only gripe among recent visitors: the high cost of admission.
Admission costs $24.95 and includes the guided tour (in a cart). Tickets for children cost $15.95. Tours are offered daily May through September, from 9 a.m.; the last tour into the rainforest starts at 5:30 p.m. If you'd rather navigate your own way through the gardens, there is a self-guided tour. You can pick up a map at visitors center to find various points of interest throughout the property as you traverse the nearly 2 miles of trails. The garden is located about 8 miles northwest of the cruise ship terminal and just 2 miles east of the Juneau International Airport. To reach Glacier Gardens, you could take a quick taxi ride or hop on a Capital Transit bus; Route No. 3 or No. 4 will drop you off directly in front of the entrance to Glacier Gardens at the Gastineau Humane Society/Glacier Gardens stop. A full daytrip could include the gardens and Mendenhall Glacier as the two are located just 5 miles apart. For more information, check out the rainforest's website.
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#1 Tracy Arm Fjord
A "fjord" is a Nordic term meaning a narrow waterway surrounded by sharp cliffs. So while Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier steals most of the tourist traffic, the 27-mile-long Tracy Arm Fjord is the bigger, better and more dramatic natural gem. The inlet is very narrow – at times, no more than half a mile wide – with cliffs that rise more than 3,000 feet on either side and waterfalls that cascade down the steep rock walls. During the summer, you can spot eagles, seals, bears and whales here.
Recent visitors said that if you only have time for one experience in Juneau, this is it. Travelers described the glacial scenery as "incredible" and "breathtaking," and recommended bringing along a quality set of binoculars and a camera to capture the scene.
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