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Southeast Alaska; 2 hours north of Seattle or 1.5 hours southeast of Anchorage by jet. Population: 29,000. Visitor Information: Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800 Glacier Avenue, Juneau, Alaska 99801; Toll Free (888) 581-2201; Email: info@traveljuneau.com; Website: www.traveljuneau.com
Juneau Alaska Glacier Gardens

  

Alaska’s Capital City since 1902, Juneau is located in the heart of the famous Inside Passage on Gastineau Channel. The Tongass Rainforest climate provides Juneau with lush terrain and vibrant wildflowers. Early settlers included miners during Alaska’s gold rush and Russian fur traders. Long before the gold rush that resulted in the town you see today, Juneau was home to the Auk band of Tlingit. The main village was located at Auke Bay, just a mile west of the current ferry terminal.  

 

Each summer, members of the Auk tribe would travel to a summer fish camp at the mouth of Dzantiki Heeni, a stream that is now called Gold Creek, to fish for flounder. In fact, the gold rush to Juneau that began in 1880 might never have occurred had it not been for the Auk and their chief Kowee, who insisted that Joe Juneau and Richard Harris look for gold in this area.

 

Southeast Alaska has been home to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian First Nations for thousands of years. Though their languages differ, the three share common art, ceremonies and legends—all of which have been shaped by the land and sea.

 

Descendants of the Auk and others from this region are prominent in the social and political fabric of modern day Juneau. Native art and culture can be experienced all through the town. There are totems in many public places, murals and sculpture on the walls of buildings, shops featuring carvings and original works of art and opportunities to learn about the region’s rich native culture through movies and theatrical presentations.

 

There are several totem poles and historic buildings on the National Register located in the downtown area. The City Museum has a complete list and detailed map. Following are a few of the totem poles and their approximate locations:

 

Stephen Jackson’s Raven and Tl'anax'eet'ak'w (Wealth Bringer) Totem - located in the Mount Roberts Tramway Station.

 

Harnessing the Atom Totem Pole - outside the City Museum on the Calhoun Street side.


Four Story Totem Pole - outside the City Museum.

 

Friendship Totem Pole - lobby of the courthouse building, 4th and Seward.

 

The Old Witch Totem Pole - main lobby, 8th floor of the State Office Building.

 

The Governor’s Totem Pole - outside the Governor’s Mansion, 716 Calhoun St.

 

Raven and Eagle Totem Poles - Village St. & Willoughby.

 

Wooshkeetann & Auk Tribe Totem Poles - outside of Centennial Hall.

 

 

Juneau clings to the base of two 3,500 foot mountains. Behind the city lies the 1,500 square mile Juneau Icefield, the source of 38 separate glaciers, including Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau’s “drive up” glacier.  

 

Juneau is Alaska’s third largest city and the hub of commercial business for Southeast Alaska. The city is very easy to access, even though there are no direct roads or rail links. Jet service is provided daily and ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway system ply the Inside Passage offering vehicle and passenger connections into Juneau from other Southeast Alaska communities, as well as Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  In addition, Juneau boasts over 475 cruise ship landings with more than 375,000 passengers during the cruise season of early May through the end of September. 

 

Upon arriving at Juneau International Airport or the Auke Bay Ferry terminal, getting around town is easy. There are several good cab companies and all  charge the same rate due to city ordinances. Some hotels provide free airport shuttles. A local shuttle service provides transfers from the airport to downtown for a small fee. Rental cars are available at the airport. Some will offer a free pick up from the airport to other locations. Once in Juneau, there are a variety of regional air taxi operators available for scheduled and chartered flights to nearby attractions and smaller towns. 


  Visitors will want to explore Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord, visit Admiralty Island National Monument, which features one of the largest concentrations of brown bear in the world, DIPAC Fish Hatchery, Alaska State Museum and St. Nicholas Russian Church. Juneau flightseeing excursions feature spectacular scenery, and abundant wildlife inhabits areas in and around the city. The downtown area is served by Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway, where wilderness is instantly accessible.

 

Vacationers can also enjoy hiking throughout the Juneau trail system or skiing during the winter at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Outdoor enthusiasts will love Juneau’s extraordinary kayaking, dogsledding, rafting, biking, hiking and glacier hiking opportunities. Winter enthusiasts will enjoy snowboarding and downhill, cross-country and heli-skiing.

 

Guided sport fishing from April through September is available for trophy anglers as well as rookies.  Take to the seas for a whale watching or fishing adventure and explore the Inside Passage aboard one of the charter services based in Juneau. Icy Strait offers unprecedented whale watching. Whales are in the Juneau area year-round. However, from April to November is when the majority of humpback whales return to the waters of the northern Inside Passage.

 

The waters surrounding Juneau hold a wealth of sea life rivaling the gold in the mountains. The seafood that Alaska is famous for can be caught throughout the Juneau area. Alaska king or chinook salmon are known for their incredible size. Silver or coho salmon are known for their superior strength and ability to fight. Pacific halibut often weigh in excess of 100 pounds. Dolly Varden, cutthroat and steelhead trout are found in the rivers, lakes, streams and saltwater shoreline areas. Juneau is also a flyfishing paradise. Local fishing charter companies offer half and full-day excursions for fly and deep sea fishing in Alaska’s prime fishing territory.

 

Juneau has a variety of accommodations ranging in style from quaint bed and breakfasts to modern hotels. Wilderness lodges for fishing and outdoor adventures are also accessible from Juneau. Campgrounds are located near the ferry terminal and also near Mendenhall Glacier in town.

 

Located 22 miles north of downtown Juneau at 21425 Glacier Highway, the Shrine of St. Thérèse has welcomed people for over 75 years. Dedicated to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of Alaska, missionaries and the Diocese of Juneau, the beautiful grounds surrounding the beach-stone chapel offer peaceful lodge and cabin accommodations.

 

  

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Juneau-Douglas City Museum is located at the Veterans Memorial Building across from the State Capitol building at Fourth and Main Street. With more than 6,000 historical and fine art objects, special exhibits on the greater Juneau area’s history and culture change frequently. Trail guides and a free historic guide of Juneau are available in the gift shop that also features photography and books by local artists and writers. 

 

Enjoy two totem poles in the small, beautifully landscaped park and view Alaska’s Capitol building. The Museum building was constructed in 1951 as a library and dedicated to Veterans of Foreign Wars. It was the first building in Alaska to be constructed specifically as a library. On this site on July 4, 1959, the first Alaska State Flag was raised celebrating statehood, and a 49-star flag still flies there.

 

 

Sights and Sounds on the Mount Roberts Tramway: More than Just a Beautiful View

Soar to new heights in scenic adventure aboard the top attraction in Juneau. At the breathtaking top of the mountain, visitors can explore the rain forest hiking trails to a sub-alpine meadow for a spectacular 360° view, then treat themselves to excellent seafood, local brews and gorgeous views in the Timberline Bar & Grill. Watch master Native artisans at work on exquisite jade, argillite, fossil ivory, cedar and beaded pieces in the Raven Eagle Gift Shop and Gallery, and shop for truly one-of-a-kind artwork, traditional apparel and more. Enjoy the complimentary award-winning short film Seeing Daylight on Tlingit culture, or thrilling live performances at the Chilkat Theater.

 

The Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway opened in 1996 and operates May through September. It is the only aerial tramway in southeast Alaska. Often accompanied by traditional drumming and singing, guests on the spacious cars rise 1,800 feet from the cruise ship dock in downtown Juneau through the rainforest to the Mountain House Sky Bridge complex, surrounded by expansive views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel. The Mount Roberts Tramway is one of the most vertical tramways in the world and received the Governor’s Award for facility ADA accessibility design.

 

Prices provide an all-day pass up and down the mountain. Tickets are available from the shore excursion department of all major cruise lines, and the Tramway station just south of downtown Juneau at 490 S. Franklin Street, on the cruise ship dock in the big red building, and at the front desk of the Goldbelt Hotel. So come be inspired by this unique opportunity to view wildlife and bald eagle exhibit, riots of wild flowers and the stupendous mountain and seascapes spread out below. 

 

Seward's Descendants Attend the Unveiling of their Famous Ancestor’s Statue

July 3rd, 2017 saw the unveiling of a life size statue of William Henry Seward in Alaska’s capital city Juneau. Painter/sculptor David Rubin of Ketchikan and his sister Judy Rubin in Boston created the impressive bronze of the Secretary of State, who secured the territory then known as Russian America by treaty in 1867, making 2017 the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary of modern day Alaska. Installed on a four-foot block of Tokeen marble and a concrete pad, Seward towers eleven feet in the air.

 

The raising of a statue to celebrate the anniversary was an idea born of Alaska's own John Venables and the Alaska Living History Group. Mr. Venables was known to dress in period costumes and impersonate Alaska's first senator Bob Bartlett, Judge Wickersham, and his favorite, William Seward. He once performed his 'Seward' on the floor of the Library of Congress on Seward's Day, March 30th, 2009. Eight years later on Seward's Day in 2017, the Rubins were recognized at a reception held at the State Department in Washington DC, in acknowledgement of the milestone anniversary. It wasn't long after they were chosen for the commission that Mr. Venables died, never seeing his dream realized. Though it saddened many that he was not at the final unveiling, Seward's descendants were in attendance, making the ceremony truly a family event.

 

The statue was sculpted and cast in New York and then had three stops before reaching Juneau. The first was in Auburn, New York at Seward's home where he lived from 1823 to 1872. Attending the first unveiling and acting as official send off to Alaska were Seward's great, great grandson Ray Messenger, his wife Susan and their daughter Katrina. Ray’s sister Cornelia’s own great grandchildren Ona and Finn Grimmett were also there, and spent the afternoon playing at the foot of the statue, touching it, hugging it, and smiling up at a face that the artists hoped was somehow familiar to them.

 

The second unveiling took place in Nebraska’s capital city Lincoln at the Kennard House, home of their first Secretary of State. (Nebraska became a state in 1867 and is Alaska's Sesquicentennial Sister.) Next, a short 20-minute drive transported the statue to the Seward County Courthouse where it was on display until the following day. Then the Seward County Historical Society Museum in the nearby village of Goehner hosted the statue at their 50th anniversary celebration. The statue was so well-received that Seward, Nebraska has requested one of their own, and it will be the little city that bears the family name that insures the next family gathering at yet one more unveiling. The new version will be distinct from the one now standing in Juneau, as Seward will not be holding the Alaska Treaty of Cession. Instead, his empty hand will gesture toward the courthouse that serves as the town square. He will be mounted on a pedestal on the front lawn, complementing the statue of a Union Soldier that already stands guard there at his eternal post. Seward was proudly named the Official 4th of July City of Nebraska by State Proclamation in 1973, and National 4th of July City¬–Small Town USA by the US Congress in 1979. So come celebrate our nation’s birthday in style and join the family there for the dedication of the Seward–Seward Statue on July 1, 2018!

 

The final unveiling in Juneau provided everyone in attendance with the thrill of bearing witness to a truly historic Alaskan event. When Seward came to Alaska in 1869, he traveled as far north as Haines, where he met and befriended Chief Koh’Klux of the Chilkat People. The chief was so impressed that before Seward said goodbye after only a three-day visit, he carved Seward's name on his arm. It was this great event that was replayed in Juneau, as a direct descendant of William Seward, Ray and Susan Messenger’s son Bradley, met and shook hands with a direct descendant of Chief Koh’Klux – David Rubin’s good friend and Master Carver, Israel Shotridge. As they approached each other with hands outstretched, Israel said to Brad, "Now, I'm not going to carve your name on my arm!”

 

William Henry would've loved it.

 

Admiralty Island  

The native Tinglit people called the area “Kootznoowoo”, meaning fortress of the bears. They knew that the bears outnumbered them and on this island they roamed freely and unafraid. Today we call the area Admiralty Island and it is still home to one of  the largest concentration of brown bears in North America. Unchanged and unspoiled, the bears travel the same trails and forage for food in the same creek as their ancestors before them. A uniquely Alaskan experience awaits travelers who decide to walk in the shadow of the bears. 

 

Set in the middle of the Tongass National Forest, Admiralty Island is 30-minute flight or a several-hour boat ride south of Juneau. The island is 90 miles long, 35 miles wide and home to over 1800 bears. The area is a rich, temperate rainforest with soft mountain slopes, wide open meadows and tidal flat creeks and beaches, making it an ideal and food-dense area for the bears. In the center of the island is the Pack Creek Wildlife Viewing area, operated by the United States Forest Service. About eight people can fit in the elevated tower while bears meander below. There are several trails to Pack Creek including a path from the shoreline and a moderate one through old growth rainforest. Permits are required by the USFS and there are no facilities, including bathrooms or cell phone towers. Visitors are greeted by a USFS ranger who provides guidance and instruction as well as island rules. This area receives an abundance of rain and the appropriate gear is recommended as well as high boots due to the mud. There is no camping on the island, however a short distance away is Windfall Island that has facilities. 

 

Stan Price, known as “The Bear Man of Pack Creek” summed up Admiralty Island best when he said, ``I can’t say what a bear’s worth. I can’t say what a bear’s good for. But I know they were here before we were.’’ Step into the fortress of the bears and step back to a simpler time when these great creatures ruled the forests of southeast Alaska.

 

Travel Guide recommends the following tour operator:

MV Discovery:
www.aclassicyacht.com
Phone: (206) 450-9469
Email: allaboard@alaskacharters.com

 

 

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