Combining modern amenities with untamed Alaskan potential.
Because of its proximity to the water, Southeast Alaska is known for its surprisingly moderate climate. In the winter, temperatures rarely dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, temperatures average in the mid-60’s. Winters tend to see a reasonable amount of snow, and summers are privy to both sunshine and rain-showers.
Carved by glaciers, Alaska’s southeast coastline boasts snow-capped peaks and pristine waterways. Primarily rainforest, this area is home to majestic spruce and hemlock, and is a prime habitat for whales, porpoise, sea lions and bald eagles. Much of this area is part of Tongass National Forest, a 16.8 million acre National Reserve. Contrary to popular belief, Southeast Alaska is not a land of “eternal darkness”, even in the winter. In fact, Southeast Alaska enjoys an enormous amount of daylight for most of the year. On the longest day of the year, the sun stays visible for over 18 hours. On the shortest day of the year, in the dead of winter, the sun stays in the sky for almost 6 1/2 hours.
Southeast Alaska is famous for its diverse and abundant wildlife. Long an attraction for zoologists and other animal scientists, tourists and residents regularly enjoy spotting 50 foot humpback whales (most famous for their haunting submarine melodies), porpoises, sea lions, sea otters, eagles, Sitka black tail deer, black bears, mountain goats and occasional timber wolves. Killer whales are less common but are known to frolic in some of the deeper inland channels, and nearby Admiralty Island boasts the world’s largest – and most famous – concentration of Brown Bears.
Southeast Alaskan culture is diverse and has large Native American and Russian influences. Southeast Alaska is home to both the Tlingit and Haida Native American peoples, who crossed from Siberia tens of thousands of years ago. Master craftsman, the Tlingit and Haida are famous for their intricate weaving techniques used in baskets, clothing and rugs and for their carvings of totem poles and canoes. Many Native American influences can be seen in Juneau area architecture, arts and crafts.
Grigory Shelikhov founded the first Russian settlement in Alaska in 1784 at Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island. Ten years later, Catherine the Great approved Shelikhov’s request to establish an Orthodox mission. With the arrival of priests and missionaries, the interaction with Alaska Natives increased and the influence of the church spread. Today, Orthodox Christianity plays a major role in the lives of many Alaska Natives. Visitors in Juneau can explore the beautiful churches and artwork that were inspired by Russian influences.
During the year, the Juneau area has many cultural events and celebrations including Native American Festivals, Music Festivals, Food Festivals and Sporting Events.
Spuhn Island lies just offshore from Juneau, Alaska’s state capital. Built on a narrow shelf between Mt. Juneau and the Gastineau Channel, Juneau is Alaska’s 3rd largest city and offers a large array of exciting shopping, entertainment, and tourist experiences. Named after prospector Joe Juneau, it was one of the first towns founded in Alaska after the U.S. purchased the land from Russia in 1867 for the sum of $7 million dollars.
Juneau is home to the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska’s most popular natural attraction. Here, visitors come face to face with a 200 ft. tall glacier that spans one and a half miles across. The famous Chilkoot and White Pass trails, made famous during the 1897 Gold Rush, are also nearby. Visitors can travel through a restored Gold Rush town and learn about the Gold Rush’s impact on Alaskan history.
For those with a taste for skiing, Eaglecrest Ski Area is located on Douglas Island, 7 miles from downtown Juneau. Rated as one of the top 5 areas in the world for boundless skiing by Powder Magazine, Eaglecrest has a vast amount of terrain to keep skiers continuously entertained and contains both groomed and ungroomed trails for skiers of all abilities. For a different way to view winter scenery, many nearby outfitters offer dog sledding trips that range from an hour to a full day’s mush.
Sport fishing is a major area pastime. Alaska offers some of the best saltwater and freshwater fishing, fly-fishing and ice fishing in North America. Getting to fishing spots is easy: with over 3 million lakes in the state, over 3,000 rivers, and with the largest unspoiled coastline in the United States, the options are endless. The Juneau area is particularly famous for its saltwater fishing of king salmon, silver salmon, pink salmon, and halibut. Enthusiasts can fish from shore, a chartered boat, or take a quick trip inland to try their hand at fly-fishing — whatever they desire!
The Juneau area offers an enormous variety of hiking options for those that like to get out and explore. The peak of Mt. Roberts is accessible from the city by Tram, and numerous trails are open during the summer hiking season. Bordered by the Tongass National Forest, there are dozens of trails that lead to spectacular views of mountains, meadows, coastline, rivers, streams, waterfalls and other natural attractions. Hike to glaciers, view whales during migration or bird watch. A large number of outdoor activities are easily accessible!
For dinner you can find a bevy of fresh wildlife including salmon, crab, and halibut all from the waters around you. Or you can visit restaurants with renowned chefs and take in some of the world’s best seafood.
Juneau also serves as a busy cruise ship port and as a result, many other activities are offered in the immediate area including boating, camping, hunting, kayaking, diving, rafting, biking, and climbing. Helicopter tours over Southeast Alaska’s famous ice fields are also available. Witness firsthand the power of dozens of enormous glaciers shaping and forming the land!