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Juneau, Alaska


During my 2022 Alaska cruise, I had the opportunity to stop in the capital city of Juneau for the afternoon during a port visit. While I spent much of my time exploring around the Mendenhall Glacier, I also had some time to explore downtown Juneau and see some of the other area sights during my brief travels. Juneau has a very walkable downtown area and you can see places such as the Alaska State Capitol Building and the Red Dog Saloon pretty quickly by walking.

Before Juneau became a popular destination for cruise ships, Juneau was a place where the Tlingit would go fishing for salmon in the Gastineau Channel. Then, during the 1870s, prospectors rushed to what would become Juneau over promises of gold. What would become the City of Juneau was the first town in Alaska founded as a result of the discovery of gold and named after one of those gold prospectors, a man by the name of Joe Juneau. In 1906, Juneau was established as Alaska's capital city when the state government was transferred from Sitka. Today, while commercial mining and fishing are important parts of the local economy, along with running the government, tourism also factors in heavily. 

Pulling into the cruise dock, some of my first views of Juneau are of Douglas Island, which is on the other side of the Gastineau Channel from downtown Juneau.

Seaplanes are everywhere in coastal Alaska. In a very mountainous area, the Gastineau Channel makes for a nice, flat place for takeoffs and landings.

Douglas Island.

The Juneau Douglas Bridge connects Douglas Island with mainland Juneau. There have been bridges at this point dating back to 1935, but the current bridge was built in 1981.

The Goldbelt Tram (formerly the Mount Roberts Tramway), which takes you from the cruise docks to an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level in just six minutes. It is one of the most vertical trams in the world. I did not get an opportunity to take this tram, a function of just not having enough time at port visits. This is on my list for a future trip to Juneau, though.

I took a shuttle bus to Mendenhall Glacier and snapped a few road photos from the bus. Egan Drive is a local name for AK Route 7.

Auke Bay is where the Juneau ferry terminal is located, some 11 miles from downtown Juneau on AK 7.

Tahku: The Whale Sculpture is a life size sculpture of a humpback whale. It was sculpted by R.T. Wallen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alaska statehood.

A pier looking out towards Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island.

A monument dedicated to the miners that were the lifeblood of Juneau's economy during the first six decades of Juneau's existence. The miners blasted their way to rich iron ore and gold deposits, and in fact, the output of the Juneau Goldbelt amassed more than seven million ounces of gold.

Now for a walk around downtown Juneau. This is on Egan Drive (AK 7) northbound.

At the corner of Franklin and Front Streets.

You can get there from here.

A bronze eagle of some sort.

The Alaska State Capitol. Tucked away within the city street grid, it looks more like a regular office building than a typical state capitol building to me.

"Here's a statue of William Henry Seward. He's the man who invented Alaska." Apologies to the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video aside, Seward was the United States Secretary of State in 1867, when Alaska was purchased from Russia. Seward was a key player in the negotiations that led to the purchase.

The Sealaska Heritage Institute, which runs programs and offers resources to enhance and perpetuate the Southeast Alaska Native culture, art and history.

A totem pole at the Sealaska Heritage Institute.

The famous Red Dog Saloon, which has been slinging refreshing beverages since the heyday of Juneau's mining days over a century ago. The saloon has moved locations over the years before settling on the corner of Franklin Street and Marine Way. However, the character of the saloon is what makes this place special. Oh, and the sawdust on the floor.

Marine Way (AK 7) at Franklin Street.

Patsy Ann, the official greeter of Juneau. Patsy Ann was a dog who would greet visitors and residents of Juneau as they would disembark from ships. Over 50 years after her passing, a bronze sculpture of Patsy Ann was commissioned in order to greet people coming into Juneau once again.

The Juneau Public Library, which doubles as a city parking garage.

Piers and tourist shops, blending in the nautical heritage and tourism in Juneau.

Back on the cruise ship, it is time to watch seaplanes do their thing. I was particularly mesmerized by a group of seaplanes taking off at this time and snapped a bunch of pictures.

Douglas Island.

A different seaplane, making a turn to get ready to take off.

A seaplane of a different color.

A wider view of downtown Juneau as seen from the back of the cruise ship. The city was built within the confines of whatever available space was to be had between the mountains and the sea.

Gastineau Channel and the early evening sun.

A fishing boat getting ready to say goodbye to the cruise ships for another day.

That's a Holland America cruise ship over yonder. 

Of course I'd find an excuse to take a photo of a waterfall. That is either Suicide Falls or Sheep Creek Falls.

A parting shot as I bid Juneau adieu. I enjoyed my time there, but it is now time to head back to the Inside Passage and eventually to the open waters of the Pacific Ocean to the south.

How to Get There:

Sources and Links:
City and Borough of Juneau - History of Juneau


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