Vacationing in Juneau in May

I have a cabin for 10 days on the water about 6 miles north of the Juneau airport. I already rented a Necky Looksha V for the entire stay (similar to what I use in the Chesapeake Bay here at home). Anyone paddled this area? Suggestions to get the most out of my trip? Things I shouldn’t miss? Place to get maps? I’m just starting my research.



Mendenhall Glacier
Is a great place to visit. It’s not kayaking, but has a good visitor center, and you can do some hiking.

This is a good jumping off website, it may spark your interest, or lead you what you want to know about.


Even more stuff

stuff with Univ of Ak Southeast also


sorry, This is the correct link to the University.

HAHA, of course it goes without saying…“Bring your rain gear”.


Thanks for the input
Thanks for the sites. I will also be ice climbing in Mendenhall Glacier. I am getting ready to climb Denali in 2008 or 2008. May is a good month (comparatively speaking) regarding rain.


Which route on Denali?
Guided there in years past. Sort of a zoo anymore up there I hear… Be safe.

You can actually
kayak in Mendenhall Lake, although it’s pretty small. There are trails on either side of the glacier - one from the visitor’s center and another from a parking area. They go up and circle it. Probably one of the few places you can still see the sun on a cloudy day, which get’s important by the time May rolls around :).

I forget exactly how to get there, but if you follow the trails from the visitor’s center side, then go off the grid a bit near the end, there’s a lot of old 19th century mining equipment - rusted rails, mining cars, log dams, etc. It was pretty cool. I would wear a bear bell and take some spray with you, though.

Not great kayaking from dowtown Juneau, but if you cross the bridge to Douglas Island and head down into the town of Douglas, go all the way to the end of the road and there’s a nice sandy beach, more mining wreckage, and you can kayak south on Gastineau Channel. You can try kayking around Douglas Island, but at low tide, the portion north of the bridge is high and dry, with only a small passable section close to Douglas Island on the northwest side (the salmon flock there, too, if you’re a fisherman). You can also put in on the north end of Douglas Island, near Fish Creek and beyond.

On the Juneau side, you can put a kayak in from Auke Bay. From there you can explore some near islands and some far ones. You can get to Colt Island or Admiralty Island from there. Admiralty Island has brown bears - not just the trash-rooting, docile (by bear standards) black bears, so definitely take spray out there. And there are many, many places north of Auke Bay to put in on the side of the road, all the way to the campgrounds and another boat ramp at the end of the road, about 27 miles north along Lynn Canal. Can get a little rough on windy days, but truly beautiful. Some more small islands, too. That’s also probably the best place in Juneau to see orcas, Steller sea lions (near the Shrine of St. Therese) and humpbacks.

Best place to eat in Juneau (in my opninion, anyway) is the Hangar. Halibut tacos and a cold Alaskan Amber while you watch the float planes land and take off. I’d stay away from the Red Dog Saloon - it’s a tourist trap and their food is nasty during cruise ship season.

Watch out for Mendenhall Bar
We paddled Gastineau Channel as part of a long trip. If you want to paddle in there, ask locals about timing–we got stuck in muck getting eaten by no-see-ums while we waited for the tide to rise. From the comments we heard before that, it’s a bit tricky to get the timing right.

The night before we arrived in Juneau, we camped near Cherokee Flats. I somehow managed to count 19 seal heads silently watching us the morning we left.

There is a developed public campground near Auk Village.

Here is a note from my trip diary:

  • At the Red Dog Saloon, the usual tourist signs such as “PHOTOS SOUVENIRS” and “SNACKS SUPPLIES” sat juxtaposed with one that shouted “CONDOMS PANTIES!”

    They sold fur g-strings and bikinis in the tourist traps, too.

    I liked my dinner at the Twisted Fish.

I forgot about theTwisted Fish
Very good and a little bit more “upscale-ish”. I think the people who owned it used to own a similar place in Palm Springs somewhere - go figure.