On a recent business trip to Juneau, Alaska, I drove out to Mendenhall Lake to see the glacier at Tongass National Forest. There is a visitor center and various observation points and trails where you can get close to the glacier and safely observe the bears gorging themselves on salmon in August and September. I spent time walking around and getting pictures of the lake and the glacier. I've been there before, but the last time I was there, I took pictures with my trusty Olympus 35mm camera (I'm embarrassed to say that we didn't have digital cameras then. Wow, that makes me feel old).
I wanted to get some good quality digital pictures this time to share on 10 Minute Travel. Even with a parking lot full of cars, it seemed like there was was no one around and the area was very quiet, peaceful and surprisingly warm (about 50 degrees). The glacier is very accessible and you can really get a feel for the seasonal cycle that freezes and melts the glacier year after year. There is a huge waterfall near the glacier and it roars loudly as it pours water into Mendenhall Lake. If you are lucky, you may get to see a chunk of ice break off from the glacier and splash into the water. Many times you can see bald eagles flying over the lake, looking for fish. There's lots of ice floating in the lake and it makes for a very beautiful scene. It's hard to believe that people live just a few miles away in the Mendenhall Valley. What a treasure this lake is!
I highly recommend this very beautiful place and it's worth a visit to see the trails, the waterfalls and the visitors center. But, Alaska is full of surprises like this. If you have the opportunity to see Juneau, visit Mendenhall Lake and hike the trails they have set up. It's a beautiful half-day excursion that you'll never forget!