Plan Your Trip
Getting to Juneau
For lots of travelers, planning a trip is half the fun. In this section, you’ll discover lots of handy information to plan your Juneau trip – weather, packing tips, maps, and much more. One of the bigger decisions: your mode of transportation. Because Juneau is relatively remote and not completely accessible by car, plan your transportation early. This part of your adventure has several options!
Flying to Juneau is as easy and affordable as flying to any popular vacation destination. Believe it or not, it’s only about 2.5 hours nonstop from Seattle — Juneau’s only direct departure city in the Lower 48 — and you gain an hour traveling west to the Alaska Time Zone. And Juneau’s International Airport is just 10 minutes from downtown.
Juneau is the hub for all air travel in Southeast Alaska. Alaska Airlines offers year-round daily jet service to Juneau from Seattle and Anchorage, and Delta Airlines provides seasonal service. If you’re headed for the Glacier Bay, Alaska Airlines operates a seasonal summer route connecting Juneau and Gustavus (Glacier Bay). Book a window seat so you can enjoy a spectacular view of snow-capped mountains, sprawling glaciers, and some of the largest ice fields in the Western Hemisphere!
Regional air carriers and charters serve the smaller communities surrounding Juneau. You won’t ever forget a small plane ride into or out of Juneau — it’s a lot like taking a New York taxi, only instead of lurching through city traffic, you’re gliding over the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest designated wilderness area. Don’t be worried – Alaskans take small planes all the time.
Humpbacks breaching, orcas jumping, porpoises playing, glaciers sliding down mountainsides to meet the coastline — these and other sights await the Juneau-bound ocean traveler.
Cruising is the most popular way to explore the Inside Passage; the ships dock right downtown, making Juneau a natural port of call for large and small lines alike. Large cruises offer entertainment, extensive dining options, and shopping; small cruise companies focus on a quieter, more intimate wilderness experience. Either way, if you decide on an Alaskan cruise, your itinerary will probably include Juneau.
Independent travelers can soak up the scenery as well as local flavor aboard the Alaska Marine Highway System, the state-run ferry system providing year-round transportation to more than 30 coastal communities. In addition to treating passengers to spectacular scenery, ferries allow you to stop and explore some of the smaller towns of the Inside Passage. Accommodations range from comfy staterooms to tent camping on the upper deck. And there’s no better place to meet local Alaskans than on the ferry — many a lifelong friendship begins that way. Planning tip: the ferries can accommodate vehicles of most sizes; book well in advance if you want to bring yours!
By Car or “Road”
You can’t drive to all the way to Juneau without taking the ferry, but you can get much of the way along the 1,500-mile Alaska-Canadian Highway (ALCAN). Legendary for its beauty, the ALCAN connects Alaska, Canada, and the Lower 48. Forget all the old stories about a muddy, bumpy dirt road: the ALCAN is fully paved and well maintained, with year-round roadside services including gas, food, and lodging. You’ll still want to bring the most current Milepost guide to Alaska, which features detailed mile-by-mile listings along the route. This epic road trip takes you through some of the world’s wildest and most scenic country.
It’s tough to get lost in Juneau — it’s bounded by mountains on one side and water on the other, and its longest main road extends less than 50 miles. Downtown Juneau is very walkable, and you can get to many landmarks within 15 minutes from the docks. You can also explore at your own pace by renting a car. Don’t want to worry about logistics so you can just sit back and enjoy the view? Bus tours, taxis, and the local public bus system, Capital Transit, are all options. Planning tip: Capital Transit doesn’t go all the way to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center; it stops about 1.5 miles out.
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