Set in the capital of Alaska, Juneau, is the fascinating icy work of nature that goes by the name of Mendenhall ice caves. These caves are located inside the Mendenhall Glacier that falls under the protection of the Tongass National Forest Unit. This stunning glacier stretches over an area of almost 21 kilometers. While many go on tour just to visit this particular glacier, only some are lucky enough to get a chance to go inside and explore the ice caves which are only stable enough for visitors on certain days.
While currently, it is known as the Mendenhall glacier, in the local language, it used to be called by two names: Sitaantaagu – which meant the glacier behind the town and Aak’wtaaksit – which meant the glacier behind the lake due to its strategic positioning.
Magical Journey to The Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves
While the icy blue caves are astounding to look at, the journey to visit them is not for novices. There are just two ways to access the ice caves: firstly, trekking the Mendenhall glacier till the edge and then making your way into the interior slowly or paddling through the freezing cold lake and then trekking a short distance to the ice caves. In both instances, gears and guidance are provided by tour and travel agencies but it is a prerequisite that visitors have some prior experience before as they icy floor can be quite slippery and they must be ready to face extreme conditions once inside as while some tunnels to the caves are big enough to gaze at the wide and blown out ceilings, some others are so narrow that the walls stick to you. The blue tint in the ice occurs due to intense water pressure. Inside the caves, one can spot the glacier melting and forming its own ponds inside the cave. The entire water cycle can be observed clearly in this phenomenon.
When to visit the Mendenhall ice caves and Glacier
The most favorable time to visit these magical ice caves would be between the months of Mid-May to Mid-September.