Alaska Travel Adventures Juneau Trip Planning
Plan to Stay Awhile
Juneau, Alaska is a compact central location for Alaska Sightseeing, Cruises, Wildlife Viewing, Hiking, Glaciers, Back-Country Experiences, Cultural, and Natural History, as well as Active and Eco-Adventures. Juneau is unique in that you can experience nearly every aspect of Alaska in a one place without expending excessive travel time and money traveling great distances or being stuck on a crowded bus. Walk in the Rainforest; view whales, bears, glaciers; enjoy our waters and water life by cruise, kayak, canoe, raft, or boat; bike, hike, trek, dog mush, dine, shop and escape - all within moments of your arrival. Plan your trip to experience the unique highlights that Juneau offers - at least a week, two or longer.
Though you'll never want or need to leave Juneau since you can see and do all from here, you might also want to take a day trip to one of our nearby communities. If Gustavus-Glacier Bay is on your itinerary, Alaska Airlines offers Juneau or Gustavus as a stopover for just a few dollars more than a Juneau-only or Glacier Bay-only destination.) Once your dates are firm, book your lodging first to get your choice of accommodations, as there is more airline and cruise capacity than guest rooms in Juneau.
Transportation to and within Juneau
Nearest Airport to Juneau:
Juneau International Airport has frequent daily domestic and international flights connecting through Seattle, Washington (95 minute flight) and Anchorage, Alaska (75 minute flight) on Alaska Airlines - Horizon Air (1-800-252-7522) and, thrice weekly through Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (45 minutes by air) on Air North (1-800-764-0407) . Both airlines have many partners that connect from all over the world. Expedia or your local travel agent can help you with the best routing and fares to Juneau, Alaska if Alaska Airlines doesn't serve your city directly. Small commuter planes or jets serve nearby communities throughout the day. Gustavus airport at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is within 37 air miles. Air travel is the most time efficient way to travel in Alaska.
The Alaska State Marine Highway Ferry (1-800-642-0066) as well as small luxury adventure cruises serve Juneau, Alaska most days. They often route through Bellingham or Seattle, Washington, Vancouver, BC in Canada or the many nearby Alaska towns like Gustavus at Glacier Bay, Sitka, Haines or Skagway (which also links Alaska to the Yukon and British Columbia in Canada). There are also fast ferries in the INNside Passage http://alaskafjordlines.com from Haines-Skagway. You can also take an Alaska cruise big ship, but you'll get more out of your trip if you take time to really experience the unique culture and adventures by overnighting, especially in Juneau, where you need at least a week to explore it.
Alaska By Road
Like many other communities along Alaska's long coastline, Juneau has a marine highway that can transport you and/or your vehicle from where hard road surfaces end. You CAN get there from here.
Most independent travelers arrive by air and greatly benefit by renting a car in Juneau since the best attractions are spread out within 100 miles of local, easy to navigate, low-traffic roads. A round trip taxi or any tour often exceeds the cost of a car rental - which you can usually get for about $40-80 per day unlimited mileage. Since there are no off-road destinations, a 4-wheel drive is not necessary except perhaps in winter.
Budget, Avis, National and Hertz car rental agencies are located at the airport (add 10% to the price for the airport concessionaire surcharge). Nearby agencies like Evergreen Ford, Mendenhall Auto & Great Alaska Car Company have airport pickup. 5% Sales Tax applies to all rentals. Check your car and credit card insurance policy before you leave home. Perhaps you can avoid the duplicative charge for collision damage waiver and other insurance fees. You must reserve a car in advance during the summer.
Alaska Cruise vs Ferry vs Air Travel:
Alaska is huge. Ferry travel allows you get to know Alaska, its unique culture, hidden treasures, wildlife and scenery by spending extra travel time along the way. Air travel saves time so you spend more time experiencing Alaska, its spectacular scenery and unique adventures instead of traveling.
The state ferry is a great transportation alternative if you have ample time. Cruise ship travel provides an overview of the Inside Passage to identify areas to explore in depth on a return visit. It also allows you a few hours at each port to visit the tourist shops and perhaps engage in an activity.
The Tongass National Forest
The Tongass is the largest temperate rainforest in the world. A common misconception is that Alaska is covered in ice and snow most of the year. Actually, temperatures in Juneau, where the mountains meet the sea, are quite mild: similar to parts of England and Scotland. The temperatures are great for sightseeing and active outdoor activities. Enjoy our refreshing clean air!
In the summer, if the forecast says rain, don't despair. While occasional drizzle is often likely, it is often brief and is not the heavy rains that one might face down South. When the sun shines, it feels deliciously warm because the air is so pristine. Juneau is one of the most scenic destinations on earth. Come, stay a while in our rainforest paradise. Enjoy the refreshing cool crisp and clean air. Bring some fleece and raingear, to be sure, but do not expect igloos.
Juneau, AK (99801) Weather Facts
- On average, the warmest month is July, at 64°. Temperatures typically range 60-74°F in summer
- The highest recorded temperature was 90°F in 1975.
- The average coolest month is January, at 31°F average. Typical in mid-winter, 36°F
- The lowest recorded temperature was -22°F in 1972. Very rare.
- The maximum average precipitation occurs in October. Good time to read a book.
- The least average precipitation occurs during the summer months (June, July are driest summer months).
Juneau offers many diverse forms of accommodations--hotels, hostels, motels, bed & breakfasts and inns. Be sure to research the reputation and quality of the establishments through AAA, Frommer's, Foder's and various online services, including TripAdvisor. Also, please note that Juneau lodging can be tight. Book Early!
Ask about the buildings, private access to your room, locks, phone access, television, private baths, amenities, room size and furnishings, bed size and age, privacy, stairs, etc. Ask about the setting of the building, property and rooms, noise, suitability for children, honeymoons, extended stay or business travel; flexibility, timing and privacy of breakfast & smoking policies. Find out what is included. Is high speed internet and laundry available and included? Are concierge and trip planning services available? The goal of any service should be to make your stay as care free, comfortable, and memorable as possible.
For business or pleasure, award-winning Pearson's Pond Luxury Inn, Suites and Adventure Spa excels with starlit hot tubs and romantic spa-fireplace rooms in a spectacular garden setting. In addition to being Alaska's only AAA four diamond and Select Registry property, Pearson's Pond has been repeatedly recognized for its excellence in numerous publications, including 1,000 Places to See in U.S. & Canada, Foder's and Frommers. It was listed #4 World's Most Romantic Hotel Destinations by MSN and Best in State for Hospitality and Weddings by iLoveInns.com.
For an extended stay, Alaska Suites Corporate and Vacation Condo Rentals excels with convenient, affordable, all-suite living. We can also book you at nearby properties. Regardless of where you stay, buy quality. The wonderful memories of the experience will last a lifetime.
Services at Pearson's Pond
Enjoy a full breakast including a hot entree available mid-morning in summer months. Alternatively, a flexible self-serve, self-prepare breakfast is available year round from the well-stocked Guest Dining Room for early or late risers.
Gourmet coffee and teas are available throughout the day, as is a light fruit snack. Enjoy the afternoon hospitality hour in the Atrium Lounge or in the Gardens. This is a relaxing fun time when guests share tales of their adventures , spectacular scenery and wildlife.
On request, folks gather round the campfire. We provide marshmallows, chocolate and crackers for s'mores and hot chocolate to warm the soul, and firewood to build the fire. This is a lovely spot next to the waterfall to gather and meet new friends.
Each guest has their own fully equipped kitchenette with fridge, micro, beverage maker, toaster, and portable burners, dishes/pots/utensils. Pearson's Pond also has two outdoor barbeques. Guest can shop at the nearby grocery store and pick up easy lunch, snack and dinner items, or cook up their newly caught fish. We have most of the condiments on hand.
Our Favorite Restaurants
- Salt, Second and Seward (downtown) 780-2221. Creative Alaskan cuisine & craft cocktails in a welcoming and modern atmosphere. Fresh and delicious.
- The Rookery Cafe, 111 Seward Street (downtown) 523-0344. Coffee house bistro, serving housemade pastries, stumptown coffee, and high quality bistro dinner fare.
- Chan's Thai Kitchen, 11806 Glacier Highway (above Auke Bay) 789-9777. Great authentic Thai Food. Our favorites include Chicken Satay, Red Curry Halibut, the Satay's, and Cashew Chicken.
- Hangar at the Wharf, 2 Marine Way (downtown) 586-5018. Great views overlooking docks. Try their chowder and jambalaya! Wide selection of micro brews (as well as wine).
- Island Pub, 1102 2nd Street (Douglas) 364-1595. Great view of the channel, friendly people and great specialty pizza's. Sometimer have jazz or other live music on weekends.
- Twisted Fish, 550 S. Franklin (downtown) 463-5033. Some of the best seafood in town. Try their Halibut Taco's or Salmon Puff Pastries. Good bar; lots of micro brews.
Juneau's waters, trails, mountains, glaciers, ice fields, wild life offer opportunities beyond compare. Check our activities web page.
Alaska is VERY casual, leave your heels and wingtips at home, unless you are meeting with the governor.
BRING for your vacation...
- Clothing you can layer: Long underwear, a fleece, and a waterproof/breathable shell.
- Comfortable shoes with good traction: Running shoes with good support are adequate for anything you'll do except hike steep hillsides (which you may not do). If you prefer something sturdier, lightweight hikers are great, and some are waterproof as well. Alaskan homes and inns are typically shoe-free, so bring on some shoes that are easy to slip on & off. (Pearson's Pond supplies both indoor slippers, and outdoor thongs for the hot tub)
- Sun protection: Lightweight, brimmed hat (sun and rain); sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Light winter cap/gloves/scarf: These really keep you warm if it gets unseasonably cold-or if you're feeling the effects of glacier-chilled wind-without adding a lot of weight.
- Summer clothing: Unless you prefer last-minute local shopping, pack shorts and short sleeve shirts. Recent Alaskan summers have been hot and sunny
- Formal vs. casual: Very casual dress is the way to go in Alaska. Some cruise-goers bring formal attire for onboard the ship, then break out the jeans on land. No one cares how you look, just dress down and be comfortable and you'll look like a local.
- Mosquito repellent: The bugs generally aren't as bad as people fear, and they're really only a big consideration in June and July if you are in the interior. Generally in Southeast Alaska and Juneau, they are very light (Pearson's Pond has some on hand).. If you really want to protect yourself, there's nothing as effective as 100% DEET products. Mosquito head nets tend to be overkill unless you plan on doing a lot of hiking or tent camping in the arctic, as they obscure visibility and can get warm
- Fishing license: You can order this ahead of time online, but it's easy to obtain from your air taxi, fishing guide, or most local grocery stores.
- Small first aid kit: Most lodging properties and tour operators will have you covered, but it's convenient to have Band-Aids and ointment for minor emergencies.
- Camera/ video camera: Capture your Alaska experiences on film and don't forget the extras: film, batteries, lenses, chargers, and memory cards. NOTE: Pack film in your carry-on, rather than your checked luggage, as new airport screening equipment could ruin it. Pearson's Pond has a digital card reader as well as CD burner.
- Backpack or tote bag (medium to large). Some available at Pearson's Pond.
- Binoculars/spotting scope. Some available at Pearson's Pond
- Zipper-top bags: Freezer-size zipper-top bags are great to keep clothing folded and toiletries isolated (in case of leaks). Separate baggies make it easier to repack in case your luggage is searched, and extra bags are handy for storing dirty or damp clothing.
- Identification and/or passport (passport necessary to go into Whitehorse Yukon or to take the White Pass Railroad north out of Skagway.
- Watch/ alarm clock: With so much daylight, it's easy to lose track of time. (Pearson's Pond has blackout shades in all rooms, as well as alarm clocks)
- Swimsuit: Your inn (including Pearson's Pond) may have hot tub, sauna, or pool facilities-or you may want to invigorate yourself with Alaska lake swimming (no kidding!). (Some suits available at Pearson's Pond for the hot tubs)
- Contact information: Bring cards with your contact information to give to new friends and mailing labels & stamps for sending postcards. Keep ID on you when you are hiking. (Postcards available at Pearson's Pond)
What Should I Wear?
If you've done a little homework, you've probably seen or heard this advice a thousand times: dress in layers. From spring to early fall in Alaska, be prepared for temperatures in the 50 80 degree range, always with the possibility of a little rain and wind thrown in there. Your best bet is to dress in layers and bring a backpack‹you'll stay warm and dry when it's chilly or wet, and you can peel off layers and stow them as the weather changes. Pearson's Pond has laundry facilities, so pack light, bring only your most comfortable favorite clothes for the outdoors, leave your fancy stuff at home.
The inner layer is what we think of as long underwear, such as Capilene from Patagonia, or any other thin material that absorbs moisture from your skin. On a hot day, you can also wear this alone instead of a cotton shirt it'll dry much more quickly. The only drawback is that some of these materials also absorb odor, so you might consider buying new stuff before coming up.
The middle insulating layer could be expedition-weight long underwear, a fleece jacket, or even a sweater. Synthetic materials usually have the edge over wool or cotton because of their lightness and warmth.
The outer layer is the one you really need to get right. You want a shell that's waterproof and breathable to stay warm when it's windy and dry when it's rainy. Gore-Tex is probably the most popular material that fills this bill.
A jacket with a hood offers a convenient way to preserve heat.
Rain or shine, don't worry too much about the weather. Many day tours--flightseeing, cruises, bus tours--offer access to shelter. And while you may spend 23 hours outdoors hiking, fishing, or rafting, you can generally expect that your tour operator will provide any specialized gear you need.
Footwear: We advise against old-fashioned heavy hiking boots. They're heavy, stiff, and can cause blisters. Instead, get yourself a comfortable pair of lightweight hikers with good traction two pairs, actually, in case one gets wet. Some are made with Gore-Tex, so they're both waterproof and breathable.
Sun Protection: Bring a lightweight, brimmed hat for sun and rain, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Interestingly, the intensity of the sun in Alaska on a peak summer day is probably equivalent to a spring day in the Lower 48, because of the lower angle of the sun in the subarctic regions. But due to the long summer days, there are twice as many hours of daylight, so you definitely want to protect your skin.
Pearson's Pond has robes, slippers, hair dryers, quality bath amenities, alarm clocks, media library, digital card reader, laptop, cords, small gift area, postcards, bikes, day packs, iron/ironing board, laundry equipment, games, extra gloves, hats, scarves, jackets in standard sizes, and more amenities than you can imagine. So, keep that in mind while packing.