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Expedition Adventurers

Where to see the best glaciers in Alaska

Nice ice baby! Get up close to a glacier where intrepid travelers can hike in or catch a helicopter to stay at a Glacial Lookout and see the northern lights as well as the ice formations.

By Rachael Rowe 

Not many cities have a glacier as their backdrop. But Juneau, the capital of Alaska, now sits right on top of where the Mendenhall Glacier used to be – and what better way to get some cold play than by clamping on some crampons and walking to see the ice formation up close?

Head just outside the city – you can’t exactly miss it – and as well as taking a walking tour to the glacier, you’ll be able to learn more about glaciation at the adjacent visitor centre.

Cruising is the best way to visit Glacier Bay where you can listen to lectures from the Glacier National Park rangers while on board. Visiting the area is dependent on weather conditions as the glaciers are moving and can and do shed ice at any time. There are two famous glaciers in this area.

The Marjorie Glacier is 21 miles long and flows about six feet daily. The John Hopkins Glacier is in the northwest Glacier Bay Fjord and is 12 miles long. While watching the glaciers, look out for Alaskan wildlife as it is common to see whales in this area and a proliferation of birds.

The Dawes Glacier is northwest of Sitka and southeast of Juneau and starts near the Alaska/Canada boundary. Viewing glaciers is an excellent reason to book an outside cabin or suite with a balcony on a cruise ship because the views close up are unforgettable.

The Dawes and Endicott Arm Glaciers are approached via a narrow passage and are spectacular with the glacial ice formations. Unfortunately, these glaciers are thinning rapidly due to tidewater formation and also global warming.

If you want to spend more time looking at glaciers, staying at the Glacial Lookout in Valdez is possible. This is for intrepid travelers only, as you can only hike in and out or use a helicopter, and is ideal as a bucket list challenge or for people spending longer in Alaska.

However, the lookout offers some unique experiences, from star gazing to observing the Northern Lights and even skiing once you are there. You’ll also be close up to glacial formations in the Valdez mountain regions. 



Set Sail

Alaska Adventure with Royal Caribbean

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Seattle, Washington | Icy Strait Point, Alaska | Skagway, Alaska | Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, Alaska | Juneau, Alaska | Victoria, British Columbia | Seattle, Washington

Ship: Quantum of the Seas

Price: From $613 pp

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Published 03.01.23