Among the myriad outdoors activities available in the progressive, gay-friendly city of Juneau, capital of Alaska, visiting a glacier tops the list.
The simplest way to do this is to drive out to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which sits just 10 miles north of downtown and contains some excellent exhibits on this hulking glacier, which you can view from a nearby observation area.
You can hike right on the glacier by booking a helicopter trip through Northstar Trekking. A chopper lifts passengers and a guide up to Mendenhall Glacier, first circling over the massive Juneau Icefield (which covers some 1,500 square miles, extending from Juneau well into British Columbia), then depositing everybody onto the glacier.
Next your guide straps crampons (ice spikes) onto your shoes and leads you on a hike over the ice, with its eerie blue pools and streams. For a truly intensive glacier experience, opt for an all-day hike with Above & Beyond Alaska, whose friendly and knowledgeable guides will lead you up a trail alongside Mendenhall Glacier, and then out onto the ice itself.
The company also offers ice-climbing, rock-climbing, whale-watching charters, and water-taxi services. There’s really no better way to understand the glacial process, which carved out much of North America during the last Ice Age, than to hike across one of these huge floes of ice – it’s an unforgettable experience. Both Above & Beyond Alaska and Northstar Trekking are safe, well-respected, and gay-friendly companies.
For tourism information on Juneau, check out the Travel Juneau website.