Skagway to Juneau and return
Jul 10, 2007
|TUESDAY, JULY 10 - DAY 8 - JUNEAU
SKAGWAY - PULLEN CREEK RV PARK
Day trip to Juneau.
We will depart from the Skagway harbor at 8:00 am and head south through Lynn Canal, the continent's longest and deepest glacial fjord. Lynn Canal stretches over 100 miles long and is over 2000 feet deep. Marine life abounds in these waters, and a fully-narrated wildlife cruise will highlight our morning voyage. You'll see hanging glaciers, nesting bald eagles, harbor seals, and humpback or killer whales. We'll stop at a rookery where hundreds of Steller sea lions gather in the summer to breed and pup.
We travel to Juneau aboard the Fjordland, a new 65-foot, state-of-the-art, fast-hulled catamaran specially designed for the waters of Lynn Canal. The Fjordland offers comfortable, indoor seating with 360-degree views. Step onto the outdoor deck to experience breathtaking scenery up-close.
Upon arrival at Auke Bay, board a motor coach for a transfer to downtown Juneau. Along the way, we'll show you the city's highlights, including the state capitol building, the governor's mansion, and downtown. The bus drops off at Marine Park on the waterfront, with easy access to restaurants and shopping. You will receive a walking tour map to orient you to Juneau's premier attractions and approximately three hours of "free" time to explore downtown before re-boarding the bus for spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. At the glacier, spend an hour walking the trails, taking photos and checking out the US Forest Service visitor center before the bus returns you to Auke Bay for our evening cruise back to Skagway. Complimentary hot beverages and hearty morning & evening snacks served on board. Lynn Canal
Built on a relatively narrow shelf between towering Mt. Juneau and the deep waters of Gastineau Channel, Juneau is the Inside Passage's largest city, Alaska's state capital and a rewarding destination for glacier viewing. Mendenhall Glacier is just 13 miles from downtown Juneau. Visitors can get close up views of its mighty face measuring 200 feet tall and 1.5 miles wide.
Juneau Ice field, a spectacular expanse of mountains and glaciation, is the source of all glaciers in the area, including Mendenhall, Taku, Herbert, and 38 other glaciers within a 15,000-square-mile radius.
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1894, is the oldest original Russian church in Southeast Alaska. Sunday services are open to the public.
There are 32 gold mines in the area, including the Alaska Juneau Mine.
Our day today started in a panic. Our tour director came by to tell us that there was a mix-up on the day of the Juneau day trip. We planned to go tomorrow, but it was actually scheduled for today. So we had about 30 minutes to get ourselves together and then walk over to the small boats dock nearby and board our boat for the trip. Several guys had to go into Skagway to find their wives in time to join the group. All were found and off we went.
It was a 3 hour ride from Skagway to Juneau. Our boat was an enclosed catamaran holding 46 of us and the crew of 2. Like a sailboat, its hull sliced through the water and gave a very smooth ride. As we left the harbor, we passed 2 cruise ships docked. We went down the "inside passage" to Juneau. Along the way we saw many high waterfalls empty into the sea. We saw a sea lion rookery that had live cameras observing their behavior. We saw the sea change from deep blue to a milky brown where the glacial melted silt entered it. It looked as if someone had drawn a line and painted the sea in two colors. We saw several 100 year old lighthouses. We saw a line of mountains to the west covered in snow pack/glaciers under the low clouds. Finally, we saw a fleet of commercial fishermen and their fleet of boats crabbing. We also saw a processing ship tied up with a barge loaded with refrigerated containers for storing the fresh frozen catch.
As we approached Juneau, the state capitol, we saw the north end of the road from Juneau. It ran roughly 40 miles to the city and another 40 miles to the south end. When we arrived at the pier there, we got aboard a tour bus for the ride into town. Our bus driver narrated facts about the city and its history. One fact: the city can only be accessed by plane, ship or birth canal. Ha! We had about 3 hour in town to eat lunch, shop or people watch. We did all three.
Next stop: back on the bus for a ride to Mendenhall glacier NP. In spite of the rain and low clouds, the glacier was spectacular. While in the visitor center, we watched a short film on the glacier and its history.
We then re-boarded the bus, returned to the dock and boarded the boat for the ride back to Skagway.
On the way back, we were lucky enough to see a humpback whale blow and breach with tail in the air. It was really exciting to witness this. As a snack to hold us to dinnertime, the boat operators fed us a cup of salmon chowder, roll and cookie.
Ann & I decided to pass on the planned evening meal with the group tonight, as we were full from our lunch and return trip snack. We'll go have some seafood tomorrow night.