If you’re visiting Juneau via plane or ship, you’ll probably want to stop off at Mendenhall Glacier (And Nugget Falls). We definitely did! But we also didn’t want to spend $30-$50 getting transported each way! Now, there is a time and place to just take a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or shuttle bus from the cruise ship docks and just pay the price… But, if you have the time and you don’t mind an easy 1.5 mile walk, I would highly recommend just taking public transit. At $2 each way, you can pick up a bus about every 30 minutes from multiple locations around Juneau.
Getting to the Mendenhall Glacier
The Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles outside of Juneau and there are several options for getting there. Like previously mentioned you can hop on a shuttle bus near the cruise port for $45 per person. If you are in a hotel or any part of Juneau you can also try to grab a Uber, Lyft or Taxi. These services will cost a minimum of $35 each way. Calling and booking your taxi ahead of time is recommended as the popular time slots fill up quickly. Also note that cell service is patchy at Mendenhall, so some people do struggle to book their return Uber or Lyft using the apps on their cell phone. Because we had plenty of time, and love to see the “normal” parts of town, we opted to take the public bus for a grand total of $2 each way.
How to Take the Public Bus to Mendenhall Glacier
The public transit bus leaves from multiple stops around Juneau. There are two different routes that will stop at the correct location. One of these goes clockwise and the other counterclockwise around the Mendenhall Loop Road. You can catch busses that follow these routes at multiple locations throughout Juneau.
The absolute easiest way to figure out which bus to take and where to take it from is to use Google Maps. Put in your starting address. This can be your hotel, a restaurant, or the downtown transit center. Then put your destination as either Glacier Spur Rd & Mendenhall Loop Rd Juneau OR Dredge Lake Rd Juneau. Both of those destinations will take you to the correct bus stop. The entire bus journey takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how many people are getting off and on the bus and how many stops it makes. Our trip there was about an hour, but coming back it was only 30 minutes.
For some reason Google maps doesn’t work if you try to put the Mendenhall Visitor Center, so start with one of the above mentioned destinations. Once you get off at the bus stop you’ll want to put Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to get the walking directions. You honestly don’t even need the walking directions, you just need to continue north on Glacier Spur Road. But, if you’re directionally challenged this would be the time to put the directions in just to see which way to go. You’ll have an easy 1.5 mile walk down a paved road directly to the visitor center. We started on the left side and then crossed the road and took the paved bike path the rest of the way. It was a super easy walk taking only 20 minutes. If you don’t walk everywhere like I do, I would guess the average joe could easily walk it in 30-40 minutes.
The bus times are posted at each stop, but you can also see the transit schedule on Capital Transit’s website. In general you can catch a bus about every 30 minutes.
Pro tip: When you hop on a bus you can always confirm it’s going where you want with the driver! Just ask Mendenhall Glacier and they’ll tell you yes or no. This is always a good idea if you’re not used to public transportation or have any questions whatsoever.