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pthjudy

Mendenhall Glacier on Your Own

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We will be in Alaska next summer for the fourth time. I don’t want to do the ship tour again, because we are at the site too long and hiking is getting harder each time. We are going with a friend who has never been to Alaska. I found a shuttle company from the ship to the glacier and back running every 30 minutes. Has anyone used a shuttle and were you able to do a little nature walk on your own?

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You can do the outside stuff on your own. If you have a National Parks Pass, that gets you admission to the visitor center. Alternatively you can pay to enter it or skip it.

 

Note--senior citizen National Park passes are $80, good for lifetime, and give admission to parks for the holder + 3 additional people at parks that charge "per person" or a car full at parks that charge per car load. Sorry--the price recently increased from $20 to $80.

 

There is also a public bus that will take you to about a mile outside the park area. It isn't a bad walk provided you are able bodied as you are as likely to see wildlife walking along the road as you are in the park. The difference is that the shuttle company takes you into the parking lot (part of the park) while the public bus lets you off at a bus stop about a 15 minute walk from the park.

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We will be in Alaska next summer for the fourth time. I don’t want to do the ship tour again, because we are at the site too long and hiking is getting harder each time. We are going with a friend who has never been to Alaska. I found a shuttle company from the ship to the glacier and back running every 30 minutes. Has anyone used a shuttle and were you able to do a little nature walk on your own?

We did it this season. The Glacier Express Bus (both the white bus and the blue bus) leave from in front of the Mt. Roberts Tramway. It was $45 per person roundtrip. It left from both Juneau and the Glacier on the half hour so you could take as long as you'd like. The hike to Nugget Falls is totally worth it. It's a wide trail, some gravel, some paved, some packed dirt. Not a strenuous hike at all. (I've added a picture of the type of trail we're talking about.) There are also some shorter walks as well.

trail.JPG

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We were just there with my parent 78yrs and 83 yrs. we took a bus to the glacier for around 20.00 each. They dropped us off close to the glacier and picked us up 1 1/2 hours later. It was perfect for them. Walked down Steep creek and saw bears and Salmon. Not enough time to do everything but just right for them.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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We will be in Alaska next summer for the fourth time. I don’t want to do the ship tour again, because we are at the site too long and hiking is getting harder each time. We are going with a friend who has never been to Alaska. I found a shuttle company from the ship to the glacier and back running every 30 minutes. Has anyone used a shuttle and were you able to do a little nature walk on your own?

 

I would like to suggest the 4 of you rent a car in Juneau. My husband and I did last summer, and it was great! We did what we wanted and on our own time schedule. Here is a link to my CC report on our day in Juneau

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2653193&highlight=connoisseur&page=7

 

HOWEVER, as I noted in my report DO NOT rent a car from Juneau Car Rental! We had a bad experience. (Detailed in my report)

 

I wish I had known about this company:

https://www.toursinalaska.com/juneau/juneau-self-drive/

They say they will bring the car to you at the cruise ship and also pick it up. I would give them a try.

 

My trip report (page 7) also tells about a WONDERFUL place we found for a lunch! Driving in Juneau is super easy. There is basically one road. ;)

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We were just there with my parent 78yrs and 83 yrs. we took a bus to the glacier for around 20.00 each. They dropped us off close to the glacier and picked us up 1 1/2 hours later. It was perfect for them. Walked down Steep creek and saw bears and Salmon. Not enough time to do everything but just right for them.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Was that $20 per person for the public bus? :eek:

If so the prices certainly have gone up since we were last there.

I recall the price being considerable less.

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I would like to suggest the 4 of you rent a car in Juneau. My husband and I did last summer, and it was great! We did what we wanted and on our own time schedule. Here is a link to my CC report on our day in Juneau

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2653193&highlight=connoisseur&page=7

 

HOWEVER, as I noted in my report DO NOT rent a car from Juneau Car Rental! We had a bad experience. (Detailed in my report)

 

I wish I had known about this company:

https://www.toursinalaska.com/juneau/juneau-self-drive/

They say they will bring the car to you at the cruise ship and also pick it up. I would give them a try.

 

My trip report (page 7) also tells about a WONDERFUL place we found for a lunch! Driving in Juneau is super easy. There is basically one road. ;)

 

AND when you consider the White or Blue Bus (also called the Shuttle) is now up to $45 per person, and you ONLY go to the glacier and back, renting a car is much more cost effective and efficient than that. You can park downtown at the library for free and walk around town, and you can enjoy any or all of the multiple hikes and places (and great lunch!) mentioned in my review.

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Renting a car is a great option as you have complete flexibility. I think the charge at Mendenhall was $5 to park. The rental facility (Avis and the other one), however, is about a mile walk heading away from town as you get off the ship.

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Renting a car is a great option as you have complete flexibility. I think the charge at Mendenhall was $5 to park. The rental facility (Avis and the other one)' date=' however, is about a mile walk heading away from town as you get off the ship.[/quote']

 

I had read that there was a charge for parking as well; however, we were just there, and there was no charge for parking. I saw no meters, no one taking money etc.

I had also read that there was a charge to get into the Visitor's Center, and I was armed with our National Park Passes, but not only were we not charged, I never saw anywhere to pay....:confused:

 

The reason I mentioned the Juneau Self Drive site is that they advertise they will bring the car to your cruise ship for you and pick it up. That takes a lot of extra fussing out of the picture, especially for those who cannot --or don't wish to--walk a mile. We did not see a ready line of any cabs at the port. That would make getting to car rental companies easier.

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I had also read that there was a charge to get into the Visitor's Center, and I was armed with our National Park Passes, but not only were we not charged, I never saw anywhere to pay....:confused:

 

When we were there in 2012 the National Park Pass was only needed for one part of the visitor center.. including watching the movie there. We had not yet purchased the pass and they didn't sell them there. Things may have changed.

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The Forest Service web site provides info on Mendenhall, including, both shuttle companies, public bus, taxis, and trails within the park.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices/?cid=stelprdb5400800

 

When you consider that the shuttles are $45pp, a rental car is more economical if there are 2 or more people. Plus you have the ability to visit other places; the most popular destination is the coast to see Eagle Beach and the Shrine of St Therese.

The shuttle buses run every 30 minutes; you choose your departure times. Just be mindful of the last bus for the day or you will be calling for a cab!

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Here is part of my Trip Report from last summer:

 

We took a ship’s shore excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier. I felt ripped off – I think we paid $50 each for the Ship’s Excursion, but for $35 each round trip, we could have taken a shuttle from town, which drops off and picks up every 20 minutes or so. Why pay more than that for a Shore Excursion that consisted of nothing but essentially the same shuttle ride?

 

Instead, we were on a shuttle that dropped us off and left us, with the only return scheduled for after 2.5 hours. Because my wife had a medical issue that prevented her from hiking, I had asked the driver “what if we want to come back early?” and he told me to check the white board – which, when we were ready to return to the ship, showed an hour wait for the next tour bus.

I tried to get one of the other bus companies to take us, but the cost was comparable to the cab fare. In the end, I paid $35 for a taxi (plus tip) to bring us back to ship after we were tired of the glacier.

 

I am sure some people find the glacier to be worth spending hours hiking and gazing, but because of my wife’s leg issues and the rain, we were hard pressed to kill an hour there.

 

I strongly recommend the less-expensive and more convenient (every 20 minutes) shuttle rather than the Ship’s Excursion.

 

 

 

It sounds like the shuttle is now every half hour instead over every 20 minutes, but it is still preferable. Hike as long as you want (as long as you make the last shuttle) and then just jump on the next shuttle.

 

However, for three, you might be better off taking a taxi. Be warned, the taxis waiting in the parking lot there are not supposed to pick up fares there. You are required to phone for a taxi. But we were able to grab one that was there already.

 

We have the lifetime Senior Park Pass, but I don't recall being asked for it. But because we were on the ship's excursion, the fee was probably included.

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you might want to consider taking a cab. my wife and i were just in juneau in august. from the ship to mendenhall and back was roughly $35 each way (plus tip). we used juneau taxi. i don't know how the cab companies compare but at least juneau taxi's phone dispatcher seemed more organized. maybe we got lucky, but both cabbies were very nice and chatting with them about life in alaska during the 20-30 minute rides was interesting in itself.

 

i don't understand the rules but only some cabs are allowed to drop people off at the mendenhall visitor center. any cab can pickup at the visitor center. the cabs without a drop off permit will drop you off very close. basically just outside the parking lot. we had the (not really that) far drop off point right by a trailhead and walked up the trail maybe 5 minutes and saw a bunch of bears eating lunch. i think it was the trail of time.

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The special shuttle buses to the glacier and back are $45 per person, unless you get some special deal somewhere. Don't forget, it does include admission too. Not sure if they will deduct for people with a National Park Pass.

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We were at Mendenhall via rental car in August 2018. There was no fee to park, and no fee to visit the park or walk through the Visitor's Center. After we enjoyed Mendenhall we drove to Eagle Point Beach (but alas no eagles), and then stopped at the DIPAC Salmon Hatchery for a tour. Our kids loved watching the salmon jump the ladder and were amazed at how many salmon were there. It was wonderful to go at our own pace and not be one a bus or excursion timeline. We were on Radiance OTS and were in Juneau for a very long day and didn't leave until 9pm. Our weather was really cloudy, foggy, and with some light rain so we did not do Mount Roberts Tramway, but we enjoyed the other things.

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Well they do charge according to their web site. Says passes are available at the Visitor Ctr. and out in the parking lot. We did not go there this trip. Maybe they were having a free day? Maybe on the honor system?

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Well they do charge according to their web site. Says passes are available at the Visitor Ctr. and out in the parking lot. We did not go there this trip. Maybe they were having a free day? Maybe on the honor system?

 

There was no place to make a donation, no place to pay and get a ticket or go through a turnstyle. You may need to pay somehow and somewhere if you want to hike off on your own, but there was absolutely no cost for using the Visitor's Center, walking around to take photos near there, or going to the Falls. There were also no park rangers directing people to somewhere to pay, or collecting donations.

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We rented a car for $60 + fuel for the entire day. We were able to go not only to Mendenhall and spend the time we wanted, then leave, but the MacCauley Salmon Hatchery and Treadwell Mine. The other benefit of having a car which I think a lot of people don't realize when planning their trip is that you then have a place to stash your day bag while you're sightseeing. We brought coats, rain gear, (we were there the end of August so DID need those things) snacks, water, maps, camera, et al every day when we got off the ship. The idea of having to carry all of that with us everywhere would have been daunting. :)

We rented from Juneau Rental cars and had a very good experience. The cars aren't new, but they did the job we needed them to do...got us where we needed to go. :)

My CC review of our entire trip is in the signature below as well as a link to my blog posts on our trip. Here: Cruising Alaska - Juneau AK is the link to our day in Juneau on the blog. (I hope it's ok to put that in a post...if not I guess an admin will remove it.) :)

Edited by rgmacm

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There was no place to make a donation, no place to pay and get a ticket or go through a turnstyle. You may need to pay somehow and somewhere if you want to hike off on your own, but there was absolutely no cost for using the Visitor's Center, walking around to take photos near there, or going to the Falls. There were also no park rangers directing people to somewhere to pay, or collecting donations.

 

Cool. Someone else said they went this season and they weren't taking any money. We like a good deal.

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There was no place to make a donation, no place to pay and get a ticket or go through a turnstyle. You may need to pay somehow and somewhere if you want to hike off on your own, but there was absolutely no cost for using the Visitor's Center, walking around to take photos near there, or going to the Falls. There were also no park rangers directing people to somewhere to pay, or collecting donations.

 

There are pay stations with very large signs in the parking lot and there are park rangers in a booth that you can also pay. Whether you choose to walk by them is your choice.

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There are pay stations with very large signs in the parking lot and there are park rangers in a booth that you can also pay. Whether you choose to walk by them is your choice.

 

We did not "choose to walk by" anything.

I've stated before--as have many others--last June we arrived at 9am and there was no where to pay for parking, nor to walk in the the glacier/falls, nor for the Visitor's Center. We had our National Park passes in hand and did not use them/show them to anyone. There was no one taking money or checking for passes, nor charging for parking. I had read before we went that there was a $5 charge for parking and that we needed our park passes. It was unclear WHERE we would need to show them and to whom. Someone said you must pay or show your pass to get into the Visitor's Center. Again, there was no where to do that.

**Someone who is planning on visiting Mendenhall this spring/summer, please take photos and post them for us all if you see the areas where there are charges for parking, visiting the glacier, or entrance into the Visitor's Center. Thank you.

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We did not "choose to walk by" anything.

I've stated before--as have many others--last June we arrived at 9am and there was no where to pay for parking, nor to walk in the the glacier/falls, nor for the Visitor's Center. We had our National Park passes in hand and did not use them/show them to anyone. There was no one taking money or checking for passes, nor charging for parking. I had read before we went that there was a $5 charge for parking and that we needed our park passes. It was unclear WHERE we would need to show them and to whom. Someone said you must pay or show your pass to get into the Visitor's Center. Again, there was no where to do that.

**Someone who is planning on visiting Mendenhall this spring/summer, please take photos and post them for us all if you see the areas where there are charges for parking, visiting the glacier, or entrance into the Visitor's Center. Thank you.

Although it's been quite a few years ago, the only charge I saw at the visitors center was for the movie and that was included for free if you had a National Park pass.

You could take three other friends with you to see the movie. As I recall, it's hardly worth the time.

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We did not "choose to walk by" anything.

I've stated before--as have many others--last June we arrived at 9am and there was no where to pay for parking, nor to walk in the the glacier/falls, nor for the Visitor's Center. We had our National Park passes in hand and did not use them/show them to anyone. There was no one taking money or checking for passes, nor charging for parking. I had read before we went that there was a $5 charge for parking and that we needed our park passes. It was unclear WHERE we would need to show them and to whom. Someone said you must pay or show your pass to get into the Visitor's Center. Again, there was no where to do that.

**Someone who is planning on visiting Mendenhall this spring/summer, please take photos and post them for us all if you see the areas where there are charges for parking, visiting the glacier, or entrance into the Visitor's Center. Thank you.

 

We were there in May, parking is free, there are pay stations in the parking lots to buy Park Passes. You can see them in the pictures that people have posted of the area. We bought our passes and then asked the two Park Rangers that were in the information booth if we needed to pay for parking too and showed them the passes we had just purchased. They said parking was free and thanked us for paying as many don't. We saw signs saying you needed the passes for the Visitor's Center, but we were never checked as we entered. It is only $5 pp, we choose to support the National Parks and paid.

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