Inside Passage, Alaska Panhandle
There’s only one highway in Juneau and it’s a doozey. Alaska State 7 is one of Earth’s most isolated routes. Sandwiched between ocean and mountains, no roads connect it to the outside world. It’s called the Glacier Highway for good reason. There aren’t many places where you can run errands, go to the dentist and then stare directly at a massive glacier from your kitchen window. A 20-minute drive from downtown, this stunning chunk of ice lies just beyond a couple of Juneau’s more northerly neighborhoods. Prime salmon area, bald eagles are usually keeping watch in nearby trees. Continuing north, the highway narrows. On one side, glaciers grace jagged mountains looming across the water. On the other side, endless trees. The Glacier Highway lies in the Tongass National Forest, the largest forest in the U.S. and the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest. Highway 7 abruptly ends at the start of a hiking trail. The return to Juneau is about an hour’s drive. And it’s a spectacular backtrack.
Best Time to Visit
Despite being so far north, this part of the Alaska Panhandle enjoys relatively mild temperatures. The Glacier Highway runs along the Inside Passage, an extremely popular route for Alaska cruises. So while summer features plenty of daylight and more warmth, Juneau and its famous Mendenhall Glacier are often teeming with visitors. A better option is autumn. The ships are gone, prices have fallen and the threat of ice and snow is fairly minimal. A lot of souvenir shops and some restaurants are also closed for the season though, too. But as Alaska’s capital city, plenty of services are open year-round.
Route & Map
Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier to dead end
2 hours with stops
The official Travel Alaska site has a helpful Juneau section.