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Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau

#4 of 20 in Parks in Juneau
Geologic Formation · Hidden Gem · Landmark
Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12mi from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska. The glacier and surrounding landscape is protected as part of the 5815acre Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest.
The Juneau Icefield Research Program has monitored the outlet glaciers of the Juneau Icefield since 1942, including Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier has also retreated 1.75mi since 1929, when Mendenhall Lake was created, and over 2.5mi since 1500. The end of the glacier currently has a negative glacier mass balance and will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future.
Given that average yearly temperatures are currently increasing, and the outlook is for this trend to continue, it is actually possible that the glacier might experience a period of stabilization or slight advance during its retreating march. This is because increasing amounts of warm, moist air will be carried up to the head of the icefield, where colder ambient temperatures will cause it to precipitate as snow. The increased amount of snow will feed the icefield, possibly enough to offset the continually increasing melting experienced at the glacier's terminus. However, this interesting phenomenon will fade away if temperatures continue to climb, since the head of the glacier will no longer have cold enough ambient temperatures to cause snow to precipitate.
It was originally known as Sitaantaago or Aak'wtaaksit, also Latinized as Aakwtaaksit, by the Tlingit. The glacier was named Auke Glacier by naturalist John Muir for the Tlingit Auk Kwaan band in 1888. In 1891 it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall. It extends from the Juneau Icefield, its source, to Mendenhall Lake.
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664 reviews
  • You need at least two hours here to enjoy a nice walk and to spend time in the Visitors Center. There is a 15 minute film available on request. I did the shorter walk that ends in a great spot.....  more »
  • We did a canoe and glacier walk with Liquid Alaska. Highlight of our trip for sure! Quite amazing to walk on a glacier and look down into a crevasse of 500 yr old ice! We went on a cloudy day and the....  more »
  • We moved to Juneau this summer. I love the Mendenhall Glacier Center. We walked to Nugget Falls yesterday. We plan to return for many more hikes!
  • Wonderful views after a short hike of the glacier as well as the huge waterfall. Many other great hike around it as well. A must see if you are going to be in the area.

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