The Tongass Rainforest
climate provides Juneau with lush vegetation
and colorful wildflowers. Early settlers included
miners during Alaska's gold rush and Russian fur
traders. The Tlingit and Haida Indians were the
first settlers to the Juneau area. Native Alaska
influence is prominent today all around
Built on a relatively narrow shelf between
towering Mt. Juneau and the deep waters of
Gastineau Channel, Juno is the Inside Passage's
largest city, the Alaska state capitol, and a
rewarding destination for glacier viewing.
Juneau was named after gold prospector Joe
Juneau. The Tlingit name of the town is
Dzántik'i Héeni "flounder creek".
From before the time of European settlement in
the Americas, the Gastineau Channel was a
favorite fishing ground for local Tlingit Indians
who had inhabited the area for thousands of
years. The native cultures are rich with artistic
traditions including carving, weaving, singing
In 1880, Sitka mining engineer George Pilz
offered a reward to any local chief who could
lead him to gold-bearing ore. Chief Kowee arrived
with some ore and prospectors were sent to
investigate. On their first trip, to Gold Creek,
they found little of interest. However, at Chief
Kowee's urging, Pilz sent Joe Juneau and Richard
Harris back to the Gastineau Channel, directing
them to Snow Slide Gulch, the head of Gold Creek,
where they found nuggets "as large as peas and
beans," in Harris' words. On October 18, 1880,
the two men marked a 160 acre town site where
soon a mining camp appeared. Within a year the
camp became a small town, the first to be founded
after Alaska's purchase by the United States.
In the beginning, the town was called Harrisburg
after Richard Harris; some time later its name
was changed to Rockwell. In 1881 the miners met
and renamed the town Juneau, after Joe Juneau. In
1906, after the diminution of the whaling and fur
trade, Sitka, the original capital of Alaska,
declined in importance and the seat of government
was moved to Juneau.
After gold was found, a mining camp sprung up,
and the town was organized in 1881. By the turn
of the century, the placer miners had wandered
on, but large underground mines were being
developed. Juneau was a gritty mining town up
through the 1940s. The mines shut down during
World War II under wartime orders, as they were
not considered essential to the war effort. Once
granted statehood in 1959, and aided by the
completion of the Alaska Pipeline in 1977, Juneau
grew with the growth of state government. That
growth slowed considerably in the 1990s and the
state demographer expects the borough to grow
very slowly over the next twenty years.
Places To Go In Juneau: While in Juneau, have a look at: Perseverance Trail, Rainforest Trail, Indian Point-Auke Bay Trail, Channel Islands Paddle Route, and Auke Recreation Area. Juneau is also a jumping off point for wildlife viewing, exploring Tracy Arm Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier, the Juneau Icefield, and the Glacier Gardens.
Also visit the Alaska State Museum, capitol building and Governor's house, the South Franklin Street Historic District; St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church; Shrine of St. Terese; Point Bridget State Park; Douglas Island; Treadwell Mine Historic Trail and Mount Roberts Tramway.
Mendenhall Glacier is just 9 miles from downtown
Juneau. Visitors can get close up views of its
mighty face measuring 200 feet tall and 1.5 miles
wide. Glacier Bay is 50 air miles to the west.
Juneau Icefield, a spectacular expanse of
mountains and glaciation, is the source of all
the glaciers in the area, including Mendenhall,
Taku, Eagle, Herbert and 38 other glaciers within
a 1,500-square-mile radius. See Mendenhall Glacier
Mt. Roberts Tramway:
At the cruiseship dock. (907) 463-3412. A day
pass for 2005 is $23.95 for an adult and $12.50
for a child age 7 to 12. A six-minute ride glides
from the dock area to an elevation of 1,760 feet,
above the trees. The tram shuts down for the
winter - October through May.
Tracy Arm Cruise:
Tracy Arm Fjord is one of the most dramatic sites
in the world. This narrow fjord twists and turns
for over 30 miles, culminating in a spectacular
view of the twin tidewater Sawyer Glaciers. Your
captain will navigate as close as the ice floe
allows, stopping for an extended stay at the face
of the glacier. Watch for seals relaxing on the
icebergs, bald eagles soaring above the cliffs
and many other animals that call this area home.
The Juneau area has an abundance of places to
fish. You can fish from land or a boat in Juneau.
This region of Alaska is particulary noted for
its strong runs of trophy fish. The finest salt
water fishing for giant halibut, red snapper,
ling cod, and rock cod is also available. Try the
Juneau fish hatchery dock for easy fishing or
charter a boat. Weather:
Juneau has a mild, maritime climate. Average summer temperatures range from 44 to 65; winter temperatures range from 25 to 35. It is in the mildest climate zone in Alaska. Annual precipitation is 92 inches in downtown Juneau, and 54 inches ten miles north at the airport. Snowfall averages 101 inches.
Located on the mainland of Southeast Alaska, opposite Douglas Island, Juneau was built at the heart of the Inside Passage along the Gastineau Channel. Juneau lies 900 air miles northwest of Seattle and 577 air miles southeast of Anchorage. 1 1/2 hours by jet from Anchorage or 2 hours by
jet from Seattle.
Alaska's Marine Highway System offers regular ferry service to Juneau from many points, including Bellingham, Washington, and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. There is also daily service between Haines, Skagway, and Juneau from May through September. AMHS offers an affordable alternate to air travel for passengers who are traveling on foot, and want to enjoy and explore the Southeast Passage.
Juneau is accessible by air from Anchorage or Seattle with service provided by Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines partners with other major commercial U.S. carriers making connections from other points in the United States and abroad convenient for travelers wanting to visit Juneau. Smaller communities within Alaska can connect to Juneau via commuter carriers such as Air North. The airport is located 9 miles from downtown and the ferry terminal is located 14 miles from downtown Juneau.
Once in Juneau, taxi cabs offer standard city rate fares while many hotels and lodges provide free airport and ferry terminal shuttles. Rental cars are available at the airport. The local public transit system is useful and widely accessible.
Juneau has full services for accommodations, food, amenities, outdoor equipment rentals including skiffs and kayaks, car rentals, transit, camping, laundry, showers, medical and emergency service
12 hotels/motels, 50 bed and breakfasts (over 900
rooms), 64 restaurants, two large enclosed
shopping malls, many other shopping centers in
downtown and outlying areas.