Using Turo in Juneau: Good Idea or Should You Rent a Car?

If you’re visiting Juneau, Alaska, you may be wondering what is the best way to get around?

It’s a beautiful city and there are quite a few places worth visiting outside of Downtown Juneau such as the Mendenhall Glacier, Eagle Beach, and others.

But is Turo a good option for getting around or could you end up saving a lot of money by going a different route?

In this article, we will take a data driven approach to figuring out the best way to get around Juneau when it comes to driving yourself around.

Why rideshare services can be a problem

If you only plan on going to one or two places from the cruise terminal area or from Downtown Juneau then you might be really tempted to simply book a rideshare vehicle to get you there.

If you’re hoping to rely on rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, you might be in for a bit of a shock because it can sometimes be difficult to find a driver.

During our weeklong visit, we were not able to find a single driver on a few occasions even after waiting around 10 to 20 minutes.

(That may not sound that long but when you’re just sitting around waiting it actually feels like an eternity. Remember, that is just waiting to find a driver.)

It also wasn’t super uncommon for the driver that dropped us off to be the same driver that picked us up.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still use Uber or Lyft in Juneau but I would not exactly call it the most dependable method of transportation.

When we finally would find a driver, it wasn’t uncommon for the driver to cancel or to be switched out (sometimes multiple times) which would further prolong the wait, sometimes up to 15 minutes.

I certainly would not rely on rideshares if I really had to be somewhere at a specific time, such as the airport in the morning.

Plus, you have to deal with the fact that ride shares are not supposed to be servicing passengers at certain locations like the Mendenhall Glacier.

This fact can make utilizing rideshare services extra difficult and put you in an awkward position if your rideshare driver does not inform you about this.

You can always book a taxi but sometimes the waiting time for a taxi could be around 45 minutes or so.

Thus they are not exactly the most efficient way to get around, unless you are scheduling a specific time ahead of time.

But when you’re traveling on vacation it’s not always so easy to schedule timeslots for transportation like that because you never know what kind of thing may come up or how long you want to spend at a given destination.

For those reasons, you may want to seriously consider renting a car.

You can go the traditional rental car route or you can also try out Turo.

Below, we will walk you through some prices and data points for using Turo in Juneau.

You might also be interested in:

Turo prices in Juneau

Here is all of the data summarized with average prices for different types of rentals from Turo and from the rental car companies: Enterprise, Avis, Alamo.

All data was collected in August 2022 with travel dates approximately the beginning of September 2022.

We broke down the prices so that you can see the different estimates for renting things like cars, SUVs, trucks, etc. We also tested out rental times, such as rentals for one day, three days, and seven days.

Rental TimeVehicle ClassAvg. Price TuroAvg. Price AlamoAvg. Price AvisAvg. Price Enterprise
1-Day Rental
Electric Hybrid$167.67N/AN/AN/A
3-Day Rental
Electric Hybrid$417.82N/AN/AN/A
7-Day Rental
Electric Hybrid$880.75N/AN/AN/A

As you can see, going with Turo in Juneau is not always the cheapest option. In fact, it can actually be the most expensive option in some scenarios.

It’s possible that prices may drop in the future based on supply and demand but the prices that we found during our visit certainly were not the best when compared to traditional rental car companies.

In addition, Turo just did not have a lot of options to choose from (although the rental car companies also had a limited selection in a lot of cases).

I will have to give Turo credit though, because Turo at least had options for some of the categories like trucks and minivans and the rental car companies did not.

One interesting find was how cheap Avis was when compared to the other rental car companies. If you were coming in on a cruise you could rent a car for one day for under $70. You could also rent an SUV for under $100!

Avis was definitely an outlier when it came to price.

As already mentioned, prices are always going to fluctuate but this just goes to show that if you were planning on renting a vehicle in Juneau you definitely want to compare a few different companies because the pricing could be dramatically different.

Don’t assume that Turo will get you the cheapest deal but feel free to use them if you’re trying to find a truck or minivan because that may be your only option.


We always believe in being transparent with the data that we present to readers. So below you can find all of the individual data points that we found and used to compile our data.


1 Day Rental


  • 2015 BMW 3 Series – $199.43
  • 2017 Honda Civic – $84.52
  • 2015 Toyota Camry – $132.47
  • 2017 Dodge Challenger – $233.21
  • 2020 Subaru Outback – $173.79


  • 2019 Nissan Pathfinder – $177.37
  • 2020 GMC Acadia – $186.89
  • 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe – $247.74
  • 2022 Toyota 4Runner – $177.96
  • 2019 Jeep Cherokee – $119.86


  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma – $157.07
  • 2021 Jeep Gladiator – $263.52




  • 2013 Nissan Leaf – $92.17
  • 2017 Nissan Leaf – $108.36
  • 2015 Tesla Model S – $235.82
  • 2013 Tesla Model S – $234.33

3 Day Rental


  • 2015 BMW 3 Series – $485.35
  • 2017 Honda Civic – $216.74
  • 2015 Toyota Camry – $321.44
  • 2017 Dodge Challenger – $568.06
  • 2020 Subaru Outback – $447.60


  • 2019 Nissan Pathfinder – $479.99
  • 2020 GMC Acadia – $505.98
  • 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe – $639.83
  • 2022 Toyota 4Runner – $481.61
  • 2019 Jeep Cherokee – $306.98


  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma – $457.21
  • 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – $435.22
  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma – $404.20
  • 2021 Jeep Gladiator – $642.23


  • 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan – $481.61
  • 2022 Toyota Sienna – $707.99
  • 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan – $404.20
  • 2015 Chrysler Town and Country – $408.29


  • 2013 Nissan Leaf – $210.95
  • 2017 Nissan Leaf – $248.00
  • 2015 Tesla Model S – $641.50
  • 2013 Tesla Model S – $570.81

7 Day Rental


  • 2015 BMW 3 Series – $1,044.41
  • 2017 Honda Civic – $467.98
  • 2014 Toyota Corolla – $699.16
  • 2017 Dodge Challenger – $1,223.40
  • 2020 Subaru Outback – $1,020.89


  • 2019 Nissan Pathfinder – $1,005.58
  • 2020 GMC Acadia – $1,154.83
  • 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe – $1,337.35
  • 2022 Toyota 4Runner – $1,042.92
  • 2019 Jeep Cherokee – $699.16


  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma – $986.90
  • 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 – $942.05
  • 2016 Toyota Tacoma – $874.71
  • 2021 Jeep Gladiator – $1,384.18


  • 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan – $1,086.64
  • 2022 Toyota Sienna – $1,526.88
  • 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan – $874.71
  • 2015 Chrysler Town and Country – $885.94


  • 2013 Nissan Leaf – $411.64
  • 2017 Nissan Leaf – $486.20
  • 2015 Tesla Model S – $1,395.82
  • 2013 Tesla Model S – $1,229.35

Alamo Rent A Car

1 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $140.22
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $152.82
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $157.77
  • Standard – VW Jetta or similar – $160.30
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $160.30


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $207.17
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $227.27

3 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $473.29
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $477.10
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $473.29
  • Standard – VW Jetta or similar – $480.89
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $480.89


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $621.49
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $678.37

7 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $620.03
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $620.08
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $931.99
  • Standard – VW Jetta or similar – $620.11
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $620.11


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $620.13
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $620.17

Avis Rental Car

1 Day Rental


  • Compact – Kia Soul or similar – $67.85
  • Intermediate – Toyota Corolla or similar – $70.38
  • Economy – Toyota Yaris or similar – $64.04
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Impala Limited or similar – $75.44


  • Intermediate SUV – Toyota Rav4 or similar – $89.37
  • Standard SUV – Hyundai Santa Fe or similar – $108.37

3 Day Rental


  • Compact – Kia Soul or similar – $203.52
  • Intermediate – Toyota Corolla or similar – $211.11
  • Economy – Toyota Yaris or similar – $192.12
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Impala Limited or similar – $226.31


  • Intermediate SUV – Toyota Rav4 or similar – $268.11
  • Standard SUV – Hyundai Santa Fe or similar – $325.10

7 Day Rental


  • Compact – Kia Soul or similar – $286.79
  • Intermediate – Toyota Corolla or similar – $312.12
  • Economy – Toyota Yaris or similar – $261.46
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Impala Limited or similar – $337.45


  • Intermediate SUV – Toyota Rav4 or similar – $388.11
  • Standard SUV – Hyundai Santa Fe or similar – $514.77

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

1 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $133.24
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $145.21
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $149.92
  • Standard – Volkswagen Jetta or similar – $152.32
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $152.32


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $196.83
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $215.95

3 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $449.74
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $453.33
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $449.74
  • Standard – Volkswagen Jetta or similar – $456.95
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $456.95


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $590.51
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $644.55

7 Day Rental


  • Compact – Nissan Versa or similar – $589.29
  • Midsize – Toyota Corolla or similar – $589.33
  • Economy – Mitsubishi Mirage or similar – $885.62
  • Standard – Volkswagen Jetta or similar – $589.34
  • Full Size – Chevrolet Malibu or similar – $589.34


  • Midsize SUV – Nissan Rogue or similar – $589.36
  • Standard SUV – Ford Edge or similar – $589.40

Final word

If you plan on renting a vehicle in Juneau make sure that you compare different rental car companies and that you do not assume that Turo will be the cheapest route. You can still find good deals on Turo and they also may have the best availability for certain classes of vehicle such as trucks.

But the point is: just shop around a little bit.

Mendenhall Glacier Ultimate Guide: Tips for Exploring

The Mendenhall Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to access in all of Alaska and arguably the most popular attraction in Juneau.

There are many different bucket-list worthy ways to explore Mendenhall Glacier and in this article I’ll break down all of the different ways you might want to spend time visiting Mendenhall Glacier.

I’ll cover things like hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and how to see things like the ice caves.

I’ll also provide you with a lot of practical tips on things like transportation so that you can have as smooth as a visit as possible.

What is Mendenhall Glacier?

Mendenhall Glacier is a valley glacier only 20 minutes away from Downtown Juneau.

Found in Tongass National Forest, it’s a beautiful 13.6 mile long, 1.5 mile wide glacier with a face towering more than 100 feet at its terminus in Mendenhall Lake.

Due to its beauty and easy access, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Juneau.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center sign

Why is Mendenhall Glacier special?

Mendenhall Glacier is a special place to visit for a number of reasons.

First, it’s just a very accessible glacier.

Glaciers are not always the easiest places to visit. They may be tucked away in remote mountains or only viewable after going on a long boat ride through a deep fjord.

You don’t typically have the ability to just “stroll up” to a glacier.

But considering how easy it is to get to this place from Juneau, this might be one of the most accessible glaciers you’ll ever visit.

If you’ve never seen a glacier before, it really is a sight to behold.

The glacier itself will probably be a lot bigger than you imagine and it’s just a really beautiful site that’s kind of hard to put into words.

If you’re from a climate where you don’t see a lot of snow or ice, it’s even more dramatic.

Another reason why this is such a special place in my opinion is the recent history.

This glacier once covered the entire valley during a mini ice age a few hundred years ago. But by the mid-1700s, the glacier began to retreat creating the lake you see you today.

So when you admire the area you’re witnessing a recently revealed landscape with vegetation still trying to find its footing which is a pretty cool sight.

Mendenhall Glacier

How to get to Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier is located at: 6000 Glacier Spur Rd, Juneau, AK 99801.

This is in Mendenhall Valley which is 12 miles northwest of Downtown Juneau and the Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area.

Driving a rental vehicle from these areas to the glacier will take you about 22 minutes.

If you book any of the adventurous tours such as a kayaking tour, canoe trip, helicopter tour, etc., your transportation should be covered.

You can also book a shuttle bus for $45 roundtrip that will take you to and from the glacier and allow you to spend as much time as you would like there. They sync up schedules with cruise ships which makes things easy.

We decided to use a rideshare service to take us over to the glacier and with the tip we ended up spending $38 for the one-way ride.

Utilizing a rideshare like Uber or Lyft in Juneau is not always easy because of the limited number of drivers.

Also, apparently rideshare drivers are not supposed to serve the Mendenhall Glacier so our driver had to basically sneak us in and we had to book a taxi on the way back.

Speaking of taxi companies, if you are looking to book a taxi to the Mendenhall Glacier consider utilizing one of these services:

  • Juneau Taxi: 907-586-1111
  • DLUX Rides: 907-586-2121

Expect the taxi cost to be about $35 one way.

Tip: Consider planning transportation ahead of time because you may not have good cell phone service at the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier pre-visit tips

Before getting into each different way to explore this place I’ll give you some helpful tips for planning purposes.

How much time you’ll need

The first thing to think about is how much time you’ll need.

If you’re just coming to the visitor center and walking around a few of the platforms then you probably only need about 30 minutes to an hour.

If you’re going to hit up the visitor center and plan on doing a short trail or two then giving yourself an hour and a half to two hours is plenty.

But if you want to embark on a kayaking adventure or one of the longer trails then you need to spend half a day or longer here.

Mendenhall Glacier from photo point

Cooler temperatures

Thanks to the natural AC effect, the temperature near Mendenhall Glacier can drop about 10° compared to the outer valley so make sure that you are dressed for the temperature swing.

Check on the visibility

If you’re visiting during a rainy time or when there is a lot of cloud cover, consider calling the visitor center before you head over and ask about the visibility of the glacier.

The park ranger on the phone will likely have a direct view of the glacier when they’re talking to you, so you can get real-time information.

Sometimes you may not be able to see the glacier due to foggy weather but luckily clouds can quickly move in and out over here so there’s always a chance it will clear up later.

Speaking of weather….

Mendenhall Glacier iceberg

Give yourself extra time for air travel activities

If you plan on doing a tour that is dependent upon air travel try to leave yourself with some open dates and brace yourself for cancellations because of how rainy the area can be.

(It’s not so much the rain but the clouds that can be the issue.)

Remember that if you book tours that take place on the water you can pretty much always go out regardless of the weather.

So if you only have one day that might be the way to go.


Bears can be found just about anywhere here so always be prepared for that encounter.

They advise you to not have any food on you when you come here which I think is probably a good idea. The visitor center and pavilion are dedicated eating areas but there are no lockers, vending machines, or food concessions on site.

(If you’re doing a hike you can have some snacks in your pack.)

Exploring Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier visitor center

A great place to start when exploring the Mendenhall Glacier is to simply go by the visitor center — the information hub for Mendenhall Glacier.

It’s where you can learn more about the glacier, browse the gift shop/bookstore, and spend some time indoors if the weather is not cooperating outside.

This is also where you can view the latest wildlife sightings posted by the rangers.

By the way, the park rangers are excellent over here.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center

You can make your way up to the Visitors Center via the stairs but if you have mobility issues they also have an elevator that you could take.

Inside the visitor center, exhibits shed light on the local environment and wildlife.

Learn how glaciers produce that brilliant glacier blue color. See a rare stuffed glacier bear.

If you have time consider catching the 15 minute film that covers the history of the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center exhibit

If you want some views, large windows brilliantly showcase the glacier and Nugget Falls.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center view

It’s a great view but I would definitely prefer to also do one of the hikes below to get a better vantage point.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center

Just outside of the visitor center you can find bathrooms and you also can utilize some of the overlooks, where you can check out the interpretive panels while you learn a bit about the history of this valley.

Tip: While the visitor center is relatively close to the glacier, consider bringing binoculars so that you can get a better view.

Don’t expect to see much calving at this glacier though.

This type of valley glacier is very different from a tidal glacier you would find in a nearby place like Glacier Bay National Park or the Tracy Arm.

Those get continuously disturbed by ocean currents and have frequent major calving events.

Those don’t really happen at this glacier — at least not as often.

Mendenhall Glacier

One last thing to mention about the visitor center.

This area technically is a fee zone although it’s a little confusing to me.

Day use passes sell for $5 per person but those age 15 and younger are free.

The passes allow access to the:

  • Pavilion
  • Photo Point
  • Steep Creek Trails

Fees are not necessary for accessing the:

  • Parking areas
  • Nugget Falls Trail
  • East Glacier Trail
  • Powerline Trail
  • Moraine Ecology Trail
  • Trail of Time
  • Dredge Lakes and West Glacier Trails

If you have an annual national parks pass such as the “America the Beautiful” pass, Senior Pass, or Military Pass you can use those to get in for free.

While the website states fees are needed to visit some of the locations above, we did not have to actually pay anything when we visited so I’m not sure how they enforce these fees.

As for hours, during summer months (May – September), the visitor center is open from 8:00am – 7:30pm daily. 

During the winter, (October – March) the visitor center is open from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, excluding federal holidays.

The grounds surrounding the visitor center are open from 6:00 a.m. to midnight year-round.

Check here for information


There’s quite a few different hiking trails that you can enjoy here.

The “must do” in my opinion is the hike to Nugget Falls. It’s 2 miles round-trip on a gravel path that feels paved and the trail has very little elevation. It will take you somewhere around 45 minutes to one hour depending on how swift you are moving.

Be sure to look for wildlife along the way including porcupines that might be resting up in the trees.

Nugget falls hike

I’d highly recommend you combine this with a small detour to Photo Point which is a paved loop path that offers some great views of Mendenhall Lake, Nugget Falls, and Mendenhall Glacier.

Photo Point hike

You also want to check out the Steep Creek Trail which is a series of boardwalks and paved paths.

A portion of this trail is closed during the peak salmon run but you can still check out some of the raised observation decks which can offer you an amazing (and safe enough) views of black bears and salmon (sockeye and Coho).

Your odds of seeing bears will increase during the peak salmon runs but it’s never a guarantee.

We were told they are most active in the morning and evening when there are fewer visitors but I’ve also heard they can be spotted at pretty much anytime.

And while some of the black bears may appear brown, they do not have brown (grizzly) bears here at Mendenhall Glacier.

Well, at least they are not common.

The last one officially spotted was back in 2008 so it always could be a possibility although extremely unlikely.

On that note, if we’re talking about rare bears a “glacier bear” has been spotted in the Juneau area before. You probably won’t see one but they do have one on display in the visitor center which is an underrated exhibit.

Finally, if you’re worried about finding bear spray, be aware the Visitors Center does NOT sell any.

You most likely won’t need any unless you are doing some hiking, walking with a dog, camping, etc. But you can find some in local sports centers like Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Mendenhall Glacier visitor Center steep Creek black bear
Photo by Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA.

Another trail close to the visitor center is the East Glacier Loop Trail, 3.1 miles and 775 feet elevation gain. It’s a good trail for encountering dense pioneering vegetation such as willow, alder and cottonwood and also for exploring the rainforest.

View from the East Glacier Loop Trail.
View from the East Glacier Loop Trail. Photo by David Baron.

If you want awesome views and to get close to the glacier then you need to hike from the other side of lake via the West Glacier Trail.

The trailhead for this trail is located about 10 minutes away from the visitor center in a completely different area on Skaters Cabin Rd.

West Glacier Trail view
West Glacier Trail. Photo by Forest Service Alaska Region, USDA.

If you wanted to do something more strenuous, then a popular option is the Ice Cave Trail. This is basically just an extension of the West Glacier Trail that takes you down to the glacier.

It’s an amazing experience because you’ll end up right at the foot of the Mendenhall Glacier, offering you an unforgettable encounter with this massive “river of ice.”

This trail is about 6 miles long (out and back) with elevation gain of about 1,200 feet.

That doesn’t sound too bad but the closer you get to the glacier, the less maintained the trail becomes and you may be dealing with a lot of wild tree roots and muddy conditions requiring a bit of technical work.

Rangers don’t recommend that you try this hike during the rain because of how treacherous some of the mossy rocks can become.

For many, this hike is a lot of fun but it’s only a good option for those willing to commit to a fairly strenuous hike. Stop by the visitor center and get a map of the trail and talk it over with a ranger if you are in doubt.

If you don’t feel comfortable leading yourself, you can book a guided adventure. Either way, you will want to have crampons if you plan on stepping on the glacier.

West Glacier Trail view
View at the end of the West Glacier Trail. Photo by Megan Madding via AllTrails.

If you don’t want to do the hiking, you can kayak over to this point. Be sure to pull your kayak way up out of the shore zone because it could be swept away.

Explore the blue ice caves

One of the most stunning sites to behold would have to be the ice caves that form under the Mendenhall Glacier.

It’s the ultimate way to take in that mesmerizing glacier blue and to view an otherworldly landscape that you just can’t mimic anywhere else.

Visiting the ice caves is a little bit tricky because the Mendenhall Glacier is always changing its shape so caves are constantly forming and disappearing.

Timing and safety are major concerns.

To get there, you can do the hike above or you can book hiking or kayaking tours and they will take you to the caves if they are safe enough to visit.

Consider calling in and asking about the latest conditions to see if you have a chance to explore these.

I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable venturing into these caves without a guide but if you know what you’re doing I say go for it.

As far as I can tell, the caves have been difficult to visit as of the summer of 2022 but hopefully that will change.

One way to find the latest conditions in the caves is to filter for things like “Mendenhall Glacier cave” on social media or check the social media accounts of the tour companies.

Make sure people know when to expect you to come back if you are venturing onto the glacier by yourself.

Mendenhall Glacier ice cave
Photo by adam_gulkis.


If you trust your kayaking skills you can bring your own kayak and set off by yourself. No permit needed.

The launching point is very close to the parking lot so it’s really easy to get in the water.

It’s about 2 miles to the face of the glacier so it’s gonna take you anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to get there for your average kayaker.

Just remember this water is like 34° so be prepared to deal with extreme cold in the event you take an unplanned dip in the lake.

You can also book a kayaking adventure tour in Mendenhall Lake for around $230.

You’ll set out and paddle something like five or 6 miles around the lake while taking in exceptional (close) views of the Mendenhall Glacier and other sites like Nugget Falls.

Wildlife sightings could include beavers, bald eagles, waterfowl, and arctic terns.

Another kayaking tour takes you out to sea and offers a view from a distance of the Mendenhall Glacier, while potentially seeing porpoise, seals, sea lions, eagles, herons, or even whales.

While having experience will certainly help you enjoy these experiences, experience is not necessary.

With that said, some of these adventures last for quite a few hours so make sure you are up for the physical challenge especially if your adventure combines kayaking with hiking.

Be sure to pay attention to the size requirements when it comes to kayaks.

If you are on the larger side either by height or weight you might consider going with a canoe which could be more comfortable.

Note: When you book a tour like a kayaking adventure, you should be supplied with all of the necessary gear you would need like a dry bag, rain jacket, and rain pants, so it’s relatively easy to prepare for these.

Mendenhall Glacier kayaking
Photo by Dan Nguyen.


Canoeing is another option that might be better suited for people not comfortable in a kayak or who are interested in traveling with more fellow travelers.

The canoes can hold a lot more people and sometimes you might be paddling along with close to a dozen other explorers.

Again, be ready for a full day adventure in a lot of cases as some of these tours combine hiking with your boat time.

The cool thing about the kayaking and canoeing tours is that not only do you get close to the glacier but you get some close encounters with ice bergs, some of which can dazzle you.

Getting in a kayak or canoe is probably the best way to experience the face of the glacier.

Canoe glacier paddle
Photo via

River raft

Embarking on a river raft adventure is another way to explore Mendenhall Glacier Lake.

You’ll get some time to admire the face of the glacier and then float through the milky blue-gray waters of the lake before starting downstream on your 5-mile route.

You’ll pass through Class I and II whitewater rapids, so it’s a great way to experience some adventure without committing to a super hard-core, white-knuckled rafting ride.

Expect to shell out around $165 for this adventure.

Glacier walks, treks, and climbs

One of the most memorable ways to experience Mendenhall Glacier is to actually step foot on top of the glacier.

To me, this is the ultimate way to experience the glacier as it’s not every day that you’re standing on hundreds of feet of tightly packed ice that’s been carving its way through mountainous terrain for centuries.

You can find three different types of adventures that will allow you to accomplish this. The price range is usually around $400 for these.

The first type it’s called a walkabout or walking tour and it will land you on the glacier and allow you to simply walk around and admire the scenery.

This is the most tame and least demanding type of experience but could still be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The second type is a trek that will be a little bit more physically demanding as you explore more of the glacier’s features. This type of trek takes you up close to crevasses, over glacier pools, and offers more of a work out.

And then finally there is a more strenuous option where you can even do a little bit of climbing. If you want to know what it’s like to go fully vertical on a wall of ice this is the type of tour you want.

Mendenhall Glacier trek
Photo by Jill /Blue Moonbeam Studio.

During our trip to Juneau, we booked a glacier trek but unfortunately we were forced to cancel due to the weather. This was a major bummer because we also had to scrap our last plan to glacier trek in Iceland due to me getting sick!

I’m not sure when it will be but one of these days I’m going to find my way on to the top of a glacier!

Mendenhall Glacier trek
Photo by elaine.

Helicopter tours

Seeing Mendenhall Glacier from the air is one of the most impressive views you could have in Juneau.

You can accomplish this with a helicopter tour that will take you over the glacier. You can also book flight seeing tours.

Mendenhall Glacier View from helicopter
Photo by elaine.

If you’re not able to book any of those you can often see the Mendenhall Glacier from your plane whenever you fly in or out of Juneau.

We definitely had a great view coming back from Gustavus and I was able to sneak in a quick photo of the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier View from plane

Dog sledding

If you’ve ever seen the movie Togo or Balto then you know how far back dogsledding goes in Alaska.

You can venture up to the ice field further back on the Mendenhall Glacier via a helicopter and experience firsthand what it’s like to go dogsledding.

In my opinion, this is a much different “glacial” experience because the ice field is a very different environment than where you would be treking on the glacier or kayaking closer to the face.

However, if you wanted to experience dogsledding this would be a fantastic place to do it and it looks like an adventure of a lifetime. Prices are about $550.

Mendenhall Glacier dog sled
Photo by Curtis & Renee.

Package deals

There are tons of package deals that include a visit to Mendenhall Glacier.

You can often add on an experience like whale watching, the Salmon Bake, the Salmon Hatchery, or something else in the area.

Because the glacier is a little bit away from downtown it makes sense to go ahead and lump something else in so that you can efficiently use your time.

That is especially true if you are on a cruise ship.

Final word

As you have already seen, there are a lot of different ways to explore the Mendenhall Glacier. At the very least I would recommend a visit to the visitor center and doing the Nugget Falls Trail along with Photo Point.

If you can handle something more strenuous, the West Glacier Trail would be my preferred choice.

When it comes to the adventurous tours, I think the glacier trek would be amazing because you get exceptional views while in the air and also get to get up close to some glacier features.

But if you’re not able to get up in the air then kayaking or canoeing in the lake among the icebergs and face of the glacier would be quite the experience.

The Gold Creek Salmon Bake Review: Worth It? (Juneau, Alaska)

No visit to Juneau, Alaska, could be complete without feasting upon some fresh wild caught salmon.

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise or spending multiple days in Juneau, one place where you may think about doing this is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.

In this article, I’ll highlight everything you will want to know before visiting the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.

What is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake?

The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is an outdoor restaurant venue located in Juneau, Alaska.

It offers a buffet dining experience in a scenic rainforest setting along Salmon Creek. In addition to dining, you can explore the surrounding scenery which includes a beautiful waterfall and historic mining ruins.

It’s open from late April to early October and prices are: $62 for adults and $46 for children. Give yourself about an hour and a half to enjoy the site.

Plenty of people combine a visit to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake with other activities like a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching so look for packages that appeal to your interests.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Gold Creek Salmon Bake

Where is the Gold Creek Salmon Bake?

The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is located at: 1061 Salmon Creek Ln, Juneau, AK 99801.

This is about 10 minutes from Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area/Downtown Juneau. It’s also located just a couple of minutes away from the DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery.

You can take a free Salmon Bake shuttle bus that will take you from the Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area/Downtown Juneau.

Related: Mendenhall Glacier Ultimate Guide: Tips for Exploring

Gold Creek Salmon Bake

Did you know? The Gold Creek Salmon Bake was featured on Top Chef, Season 10, Episode 14.

The Gold Creek Salmon Bake experience

As soon as you enter the Gold Creek Salmon Bake premises, you’ll find the “Gold Strike Saloon” where you can purchase soft drinks, wine, and beer.

If you are a walk-in guest, this is also where you can purchase your tickets for the buffet.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake bar

Only water, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and lemonade are included in your standard ticket and you can find the drinking station towards the back of the buffet area.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake drink station
Gold Creek Salmon Bake drink station

When you’re ready to sit, you can select any table that you can find open. Lots of the tables are covered so even if it’s raining you can dine without getting drenched. Some of the seating options even have heating towers to help you stay warm.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake

When we arrived there were quite a few tables open and we found a spot right on the creek which was a super scenic spot to eat.

It’s a little confusing because of the restaurant’s name, but the creek that runs through here is actually Salmon Creek. Gold Creek runs through the heart of Juneau.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake creek
Gold Creek Salmon Bake

The buffet

After finding our table and settling in, we then made our way over to the buffet where they had:

  • Salmon Caesar salad
  • Cornbread
  • Cheechako chicken
  • Chilkoot baked beans
  • Tongass wild-rice pilaf
  • au gratin Potatoes
Gold Creek Salmon Bake buffet
Gold Creek Salmon Bake buffet

I enjoyed the salmon Caesar salad flavor although it was a little soggy and overdressed for my liking. The baked beans were very good and the moist cornbread also delivered with a nice slightly sweet touch.

The wild rice was a little bland and the potatoes were good but nothing special.

As for the chicken, it was well cooked with a nice barbecue flavor but the skin a bit much.

And then there was the alderwood-grilled wild salmon.

They throw a lot of salmon fillets on the grill at once and then whenever they are cooked they will ring a bell to let you know that they are ready to be served. So if you want it fresh, just listen for the bell.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake grill
Gold Creek Salmon Bake grill

Some of the salmon fillets are plain while others are glazed. Interestingly, one of the salmon filets contained about a dozen bones while the other one was bone free.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake buffet

The plain salmon was well cooked but didn’t offer a ton of flavor. Luckily, the glazed salmon offered a lot more flavor with a tinge of caramel sweetness.

If you’re wanting to experience some type of unique salmon flavor, the glazed is definitely the way you want to go.

After your entree you can move on to dessert.

They serve a special blueberry cake that you can find off to the side of the buffet. It’s a fluffy and powdery cake that I thought was one of the best things offered on the menu.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake buffet dessert

Sometimes they have live Alaskan folk music playing that can help liven up the atmosphere.

Nature path and waterfall

After finishing up our meal, we wanted to check out the rest of the property which to be honest was the highlight of the whole experience for me.

There’s a path that takes you along the creek where you can admire the scenic rainforest.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake nature path

It’s a very peaceful and short stroll along the creek.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake Salmon Creek

You may be able to spot some berries like salmon berries along the way.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake salmon berries
Gold Creek Salmon Bake salmon berries

Because we were visiting in late July, you were able to spot quite a few salmon swimming upstream in the spawn area. This was a really cool moment because up to that point I had not actually seen any salmon in the wild.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake wild salmon

A bit further down you’ll find the beautiful Salmon Creek Falls which is a must to check out.

You might get sprayed by the falls so having a rain jacket is definitely handy if you want to get close.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake Salmon Creek Falls

Mining relics

It’s also really cool to see some of the mining relics which played a role in the Juneau gold rush back in the late 1800s.

The Chilkoot Shaft, found by Salmon Creek Falls, is an old remnant of an airshaft that served the Wagner Mine, which was part of the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company.

It was part of the massive $38 million dollar investment which was ultimately abandoned in 1930 after running out of profitable ore. It looks like something you would see at Disney World.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake Chilkoot Shaft

Another cool piece of history to check out is the big water wheel known as a “Pelton Wheel” invented by Lester Allan Pelton, which was a water turbine that extracts energy from the impulse of moving water.

These played a major role for mining operations back in the gold rush days and so it was interesting to get up close to one in a setting like this.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake Pelton Wheel
Gold Creek Salmon Bake Pelton Wheel

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at panning for gold they had a little set up there so you could give it a shot.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake Panning for gold


They offer complimentary marshmallows and you can take those over to the campfire areas and roast marshmallows on a stick (you can get these from the bar).

They used to provide an entire smores set up but too many people littered for that to be sustainable.

The campfire areas are covered and have low-lying benches so you can warm up by the fire.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake campfire
Gold Creek Salmon Bake campfire

After checking out the falls and the fire pits, we wandered into the gift shop which is located towards the back where you can also find the bathrooms.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake gift shop

They have a little bit of everything inside the shop. It’s a lot of the same souvenirs you will probably find in other places in Juneau but some unique things as well. If you are a fan of the glaze they put on the salmon you can actually purchase it from the gift shop.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake gift shop
Gold Creek Salmon Bake gift shop

After the gift shop, it was time for us to head back.

I didn’t realize it until later but the Salmon Bake provides transportation to and from Downtown Juneau via their yellow buses that you can’t miss.

That’s a pretty important detail because of the cost of the experience.

If you’re able to take advantage of the free transportation that could end up saving you about $40 that you would otherwise be paying to a ride share or taxi company.

Gold Creek Salmon Bake bus

Final word

The Gold Creek Salmon Bake is a unique Alaskan experience.

If you’re going purely for the food, you may be a bit disappointed based on everything that we tried (to be fair, plenty of people seemed to enjoy the food a lot more than we did).

But if you’re going for the overall experience which includes spending some time in a beautiful Alaskan rainforest setting, encountering wild salmon, roasting marshmallows by a campfire, and getting a nice dose of history then the experience may live up to your expectations.

Nugget Falls Guide (Juneau, Alaska)

One of the most visited and photographed waterfalls in all of Alaska is Nugget Falls.

If you’re visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center chances are you are thinking about stopping by Nugget Falls.

But what can you expect if you make the trek over to the falls and is it really worth it?

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the hike to Nugget Falls.

I’ll show you what the trail looks like, the views, and give you some insight into what to expect when you arrive at the falls.

What is Nugget Falls?

Nugget Falls is a 377ft waterfall located near the Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Forest. One tier of the falls is 99 feet and the other one is 278 feet, making for a pretty impressive waterfall.

You can easily explore the falls by doing a 2 mile round trip hike on a mostly paved path that only has about 140 feet of elevation gain.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Nugget Falls

How do you get to Nugget Falls?

Nugget Falls is located on a 2 mile round-trip trail that is found at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center. It’s about a 20 to 25 minute car ride from Downtown Juneau/the Cruise Ship Terminal Area.

You can book a taxi to get over to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center (~$35) from Downtown or you can arrange for shuttle transportation via a number of different tours.

Rideshare services are not permitted to drop off or pick up passengers here, although some defiant drivers will still drop you off.

Related: Using Uber and Lyft in Juneau (Read This First!)

The Nugget Falls experience

Your journey to the falls will begin near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center. You’ll see the visitor center perched on a hilltop and it’s impossible to miss whenever you arrive in the area.

You should first see a sign directing you towards “Photo Point” which will be on the way to Nugget Falls. Follow that.

If you need to use the bathroom before the hike there is one located at the base of the visitor center.

Eventually you will see a post showing that Photo Point is 1/3 of a mile round trip and that Nugget Falls Trail is 2 miles round-trip. (It’s right at the spot where you also have a decent lookout point for the glacier.)

Nugget Falls trail

We decided to first venture to Photo Point and man was it worth the short detour.

You’ll follow along a paved path that is going to offer you impressive views of the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls. In fact, it is from this vantage point where you will be able to easily frame up both at the same time!

Nugget Falls trail
Nugget Falls trail

While the falls is located close to Mendenhall Glacier, the water for Nugget Falls actually comes from the Nugget Glacier which is quite a ways upstream, near Nugget Mountain.

Check out the USGS topo map below to see how far away that water begins its journey.

Something else that is interesting is that Mendenhall Glacier used to protrude past the falls so the falls would have likely been covered up by the glacier.

Nugget Falls trail Photo point

If you want to learn more about the area you can check out some of the interpretive panels along the way.

Nugget Falls trail Photo point

The paved path takes you on a small loop overlooking glacier ponds and at the turnaround point of the loop there is a nice observation area.

Along the way, you’ll probably notice the murky blue-gray lake water which gets its unique color from the glacial silt. All that fine-grained silt suspended in the water is the byproduct of the unrelenting grinding of bedrock by glacial erosion.

Nugget Falls trail Photo point

Also, check out some of the recently exposed bedrock which may take up to 200+ years for forest vegetation to take back over.

It’s a pretty cool feeling to know that you’re admiring scenery in transition from a recent mini ice age that ended in the mid 1700s.

Nugget Falls trail Photo point

For those of you who are not interested in doing the full 2 mile round trip Nugget Falls Trail hike, this can be a good end point as you can relax on some of the benches and just admire the views.

From Photo Point if you look at Nugget Falls you may see some tiny bodies at the bottom which give you proper scale for the magnificent falls. The falls may be larger than you think.

Nugget Falls

You also have a great view of Mendenhall Glacier which overlooks Mendenhall Lake (the body of water between you and the glacier). Here’s a great view I got with my 300 mm zoom lens.

I couldn’t get over how stunning that glacier blue color was found in the crevasses. It’s unreal, not to mention really old. It’s estimated that it takes ice about 200 to 250 years to make it from the ice field to the foot of the glacier.

Once you get to the end of Photo Point you can venture off the path and onto some of the glacier polished rocks for less obstructed views.

Just be mindful of the closure signs because some areas are restricted for environmental reasons such as nesting areas.

We snapped some photos from the end of Photo Point and then it was time to get back on the trail towards Nugget Falls.

Speaking of trails, there is a lower trail that goes along the beach towards the falls. We, however, were visiting when water levels were high due to rain and glacier melt. So that trail was not really doable.

Nugget Falls trail

The upper trail is mostly semi-paved and mostly flat making it very easy to traverse. 45 minutes will be enough time for most to complete the entire round-trip journey.

You’ll start by making your way through some beautiful rainforest scenery.

Nugget Falls trail
Nugget Falls trail
Nugget Falls trail

Don’t forget to be on the lookout for bears because they can make their way on the trail. Porcupine can also be found on the trail along with squirrels.

Also, as a reminder food is not allowed on the trail, presumably to remove temptation from the bears.

Nugget Falls trail

After a little over half a mile you’ll pass over a couple of small creeks which during our visit were flowing very nicely. Definitely a nice little photo opportunity.

Nugget Falls trail stream

And then when you are about a quarter mile away you will probably start to see or hear the falls raging in the distance. But before you stop off at the falls you can check out some of the unmaintained beach access along Mendenhall Lake.

Nugget Falls trail

We visited on a pretty rainy and cloudy day but it was still pretty breathtaking to take in the scenery. It’s always really cool to watch some of the large chunks of ice float by. Plus, this area was very quiet and peaceful compared to the busier area near the base of the falls.

And then finally we arrived at the falls and made the final steps on the path along the shore of the lake.

Nugget Falls trail

You’ll find yourself in an open sandbar type of area that is perfect for taking in the falls.

But you can also choose to get much closer to the waterfall.

Conditions probably vary depending on the weather but when we visited you had to stream hop via a few stones in order to avoid getting wet if you wanted to get close to the falls.

Most of the people visiting opted to cross the rocks but there were some who were not comfortable with that idea.

Nugget Falls trail

We have a lot of experience with creek crossings from hiking in Arizona so this was not a problem but if you have mobility issues you may not want to risk the tumble, especially considering how cold the water would be on your feet.

Anyway, we ventured across the little stream and then made our way close to the waterfall. From up close, it’s even more impressive than you would imagine.

Nugget Falls

There was definitely a lot of spray coming from the falls so having a rain jacket helps even if it’s not raining outside.

And remember, temperatures may be 10° cooler here due to the glaciers when compared to further down the valley, so dress for cool temps.

Although dealing with the rain was kind of annoying, I think all of the recent rainfall made the falls even more powerful than usual.

Nugget Falls

There’s a rocky area that you can scramble up to get a closer look at the falls but obviously be careful and only climb up as far as you’re comfortable. At a certain point, the rocks become pretty slick and the terrain becomes very steep. Kind of a recipe for disaster.

Nugget Falls

If you want an observation point that is a little bit more tame you can head to the observation deck which will also give you a nice view of the falls, although it is partially obstructed.

Nugget Falls

We hung out at the falls for about 10 minutes or so and then the rain started to come in a little bit more so we got a move on.

In total, we spent about one hour exploring Nugget Falls and Photo Point.

If you tend to move pretty slow and like to take a ton of photographs then you may need closer to 1.5 hours but we did not feel like we had to rush through anything.

Of course, you may also want to spend time at the visitor center and I will have a separate article detailing how to best experience that.

Final word

It’s hard to deny the excitement of visiting a waterfall and Nugget Falls is no exception.

It is one of the easier waterfalls to get access to it and you can get some magnificent views of the entire glacier area on the way to the falls making it even more attractive.

If you’re visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, I would try to carve out an hour to an hour and a half to take in this waterfall from up close! In terms of bang for your buck for your hiking time and effort, this waterfall certainly is worth a visit.

Using Uber and Lyft in Juneau (Read This First!) [2022]

If you’re planning on spending some time in Juneau, Alaska, then you probably are wondering how you can best get around the city. This is especially true if you plan on leaving the downtown area to explore places like the Mendenhall Glacier.

In this article, I’ll give you everything you need to know about using Uber, Lyft, and taxis in Juneau. I’ll tell you what our experiences were like, give you some tips, and also provide some price estimates so you’ll know what to expect.

Getting around Downtown Juneau

Getting around Downtown Juneau is quite easy to do just by walking since the entire downtown area is not that big.

The majority of the touristy shops located along Franklin Street are clustered together and convenient to get to for people coming off the cruise ships. You also have a lot of restaurants in that area like Tracy’s King Crab Shack, Deckhand Dave’s Fish Tacos, Red Dog Saloon, etc.

Even if you want to venture further into town where the Alaska State Museum is and other restaurants like Sandpiper, Bullwinkle’s Pizza, etc., plenty of people will be able to easily make that ~10 minute walk from the cruise terminal.

Some parts of the city will require walking uphill so if you have some mobility issues it might be a challenge to get to some places (it’s really not that bad).

But if you are just coming off of a cruise ship you should be able to walk to a lot of places to eat and shop. No need for Uber/Lyft.

Just be aware that it can often be rainy and so if you plan on being outside and walking around a lot you should bring a raincoat with you. You could also use an umbrella but some of the sidewalks are crowded in the touristy areas and a rain jacket just works way better.

So walking is great for downtown Juneau but there are some places that will be further removed from the Downtown Juneau area that are still worth visiting.

One example of this is the dive bar: Sandbar.

This place has the best fish and chips in Juneau but if you’re on a cruise you would probably have to take a ride share or taxi to get over there.

So let’s take a look at what you could expect if you use Uber and Lyft in Juneau.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Uber and Lyft in Juneau

Using Uber and Lyft in Juneau is not always easy.

There is a limited number of drivers in the city and for that reason sometimes it can take a while for you to find a driver and/or for them to arrive. You may have to wait 20+ minutes for rideshare in some cases. In other cases, you may never find a driver.

It’s not uncommon for the driver that dropped you off to be the same one that picks you up!

When we visited in the summer we sometimes struggled to find drivers so I can only imagine how things might get during the winter when the city gets much sleepier.

Another issue is that sometimes it’s difficult to get good cell phone service in Juneau when trying to order an Uber. We did not have trouble around the downtown area but whenever we ventured out sometimes we only had one or two bars which made it a little bit difficult.

With all that said, we successfully used both Uber and Lyft in Juneau on a number of occasions.

Overall, the drivers that we had were quite nice and several of them gave us some pretty good inside information about different attractions.

That’s one of the benefits of using a rideshare service that people often overlook — you can get unbiased travel advice.

Uber driver in Juneau

One important thing to know is that some places may not allow you to get picked up by rideshare services or there might be special pick-up zones.

For example, the Mendenhall Glacier is a location where rideshare drivers are technically banned. If you want to get picked up there you’ll have to walk a ways up the road.

We actually had an Uber driver drop us off at Mendenhall Glacier and we did not even realize that he was technically violating their policy. (We suspected something was up whenever he refused to drop us off near one of the park staff members.)

If arriving at Juneau’s airport (JNU), there is a designated area for rideshare pick ups located at the bus pick up area. Just look for the sign.

Make sure that you wander over there because there were some folks enforcing the pick up zone restrictions very strictly when we were at the airport.

As far as some estimated prices for Uber and Lyft in Juneau, here are a few price estimates from downtown (4 Points hotel):

Downtown to Gold Creek Salmon Bake

  • Uber: $14.91
  • Lyft: $16.82

Downtown to Macaulay Salmon Hatchery

  • Uber: $14.97
  • Lyft: $14.99

Downtown to Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

  • Uber: N/A
  • Lyft: $34.99

Downtown to Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure in Juneau

  • Uber: $23.96
  • Lyft: $23.98

Downtown to Mount Roberts Tramway

  • Uber: $10.07
  • Lyft: $10.90

Downtown to Last Chance Mining Museum

  • Uber: $10.85
  • Lyft: $12.77

Downtown to Mount Roberts Trailhead

  • Uber: $10.07
  • Lyft: $10.90

Downtown to Juneau International Airport

  • Uber: $28.94
  • Lyft: $27.99

Downtown to Sandbar & Grill

  • Uber: $29.97
  • Lyft: $28.99

Downtown to Island Pub

  • Uber: $14.00
  • Lyft: $14.84


Taxis can be a pretty nice way to get around the city and there are two services that I would recommend:

  • Juneau Taxi
  • Glacier Taxi and Tours

If you call a taxi on the spot you may face a waiting time of around 30 minutes to one hour depending on where you are.

Note: Some of the destinations like the Mendenhall Glacier have a cap on what the taxi driver can charge.

We called Juneau Taxi and scheduled a taxi for 3:45 in the morning so that we could get to the airport in time for a super early flight.

The taxi driver was there early and got us quickly and safely to the airport.

We also used them to get back from the Mendenhall Glacier to downtown and they were right on time.

So I would fully recommend Juneau Taxi.


A lot of people choose to book tours that shuttle them from the cruise terminals over to the attraction.

For example, if you wanna get over to the Mendenhall Glacier you can easily find a tour that will provide shuttle transportation.

The same goes for things like whale watching or the salmon hatchery.

Some sites might even have a free shuttle that you can use like the Salmon Bake.

So my advice is to call around or ask around to make sure that you’re not missing out on the shuttle service they can help you see the sites you want to see without having to deal with Uber or Lyft.

Of course, the one drawback with shuttle buses is that you may have to wait for them to fill up and they tend to only operate on their own schedules.

Public bus system

Capital Transit provides public transportation throughout the City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska. We never actually did the bus but we did see a number of bus stops and it seems like a pretty decent way to get around.

You can find out more here.

Final word

Using Uber and Lyft in Juneau can be tricky. It definitely can be done but in some cases you might be better off scheduling a taxi because that might be much more reliable than relying on chance to book Uber and Lyft.

Don’t forget about inquiring about shuttle rides and there is also the public bus system you might want to use as well. And finally, remember that walking is often a good option even on rainy days (if you have the right apparel).

Related Alaska Posts:

How to Get to Gustavus, Alaska (Glacier Bay)

Gustavus is the gateway city to Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

It’s a very small city with a population of only about 500 and there are no roads that go directly to the city.

But given its proximity to Glacier Bay National Park, many travelers find themselves trying to get to Gustavus either by air or by boat.

Below, I’ll break down the different options that you have for getting to Gustavus.

I’ll provide some details like pricing, scheduling, and also what you can expect from the different experiences so that you’ll be able to choose the best form of transportation.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines offers a single daily flight between Juneau (JNU) and Gustavus (GST) every day from about the middle of May to the end of August.

The flight departs Juneau at about 4PM and arrives in Gustavus at 4:40PM. It then departs Gustavus at 5:40PM and arrives in Juneau at about 6:15PM.

This means that you can depart on Alaska Airlines on the same day you are doing the Glacier Bay Boat Tour!

When we took this flight it was served by a Boeing 737-700 and the flight time was only about 30 minutes. It’s one of those flights that as soon as you get up in the air it’s time to come back down.

A one-way economy ticket may only cost you around $110 so it’s a pretty cheap flight. Even business class can be cheap at around $160.

The airport terminal used for Alaska Airlines at GST is very small. It’s basically one large room — no Centurion Lounge here.

Alaska Airlines terminal GST
Alaska Airlines terminal at GST.

Checking in can be a little bit hectic because there will be a long line for checking bags that fills the room (and extends outside). You’ll have people exiting and going to the bathrooms making it a bit cramped at times.

Then they will open up security (on the left) which makes things even more crowded since it all takes place by each other. Still, it’s pretty manageable if you remain patient (and hopefully dry).

Alaska Airlines terminal GST
Waiting to check our bags.

They don’t have a dedicated line for TSA Pre-Check at GST (no surprise) but if you have Pre-Check on your boarding pass they will offer you TSA Pre-Check Lite. Basically you can still get your Pre-Check privileges but you go through the normal line.

Because they don’t have the x-ray machines for your checked baggage, each bag will undergo a manual inspection.

This means that a TSA worker will be digging through your bag so if you have certain belongings that you don’t want “messed” with, you may want to put those in your carry-on.

Once you make it through security, you will hang out in a little secure area outside and then board the plane in small groups but not according to the typical Alaska boarding group order. It’s basically first come, first serve.

Alaska Airlines terminal GST
Waiting to board at GST.

When arriving at GST airport, here’s what you need to know.

First, sometimes the planes have to make multiple passes due to fog/low clouds. While we were there, one of the planes had to make three passes so just don’t be alarmed if that happens because it seems to be relatively normal.

Upon arriving, you’ll exit the plane and then head to the baggage claim area which is basically a window where workers will drop the bags off.

This works better than you would imagine given how many passengers there may be but if it is raining you and your bags might be getting pretty wet.

Alaska Airlines terminal GST

It seems that most of the hotels and lodges here provide transportation for you to and from the airport. So when you arrive, just look for someone holding up a sign for your lodge and approach them.

On our visit, we stayed at the Glacier Bay Lodge and they had a large bus that shuttled guests. By the way, if you want to stay at the lodge check out the full detailed review here.

Alaska Airlines terminal GST

Alaska Seaplanes

Alaska Seaplanes offers year-round scheduled flights between Juneau and GST.

During the peak summer season, they will fly as many as six scheduled flights a day between Juneau and Gustavus (there are both wheel and float planes). During the winter, they will be flying three planes per day.

The Alaska Seaplanes terminal building is located right next to the Alaska Airlines building. It looks like it might also be home to a small café called “Higher Grounds.” I’m not 100% sure where exactly the Alaska Seaplanes float planes land.

Alaska Seaplanes GST
Alaska Seaplanes terminal at GST.

Flying Alaska Seaplanes is going to be a more expensive way to fly to GST but it is also the most scenic way to go. I was told you can get good views of the glaciers and whales when you fly.

I regret not booking with Alaska Seaplanes for that reason!

A base non-refundable fare from JNU to GST will cost you ~$160, which isn’t bad, especially compared to some of the other routes. Expect to pay about $170 to $180 for a refundable fare.

If you’re planning to take the Glacier Bay Tour Boat (full detailed review here), they have a special early morning flight that can get you out to the dock in time for the tour. It departs at 6AM.

This could be a great option for making the boat tour a day trip from Juneau but be aware that the weather can sometimes ground these planes. During our 8 day-long stay, the sea planes were grounded almost every day!

So this is not always a sure fire way to get there on any given day.

Juneau is the hub for Alaska Seaplanes so flights will always route through them but you can book special charter flights if you want a nonstop option from somewhere else. Obviously, expect to pay more for that.

You can find out more about booking with Alaska Seaplanes here.


The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) runs weekly sailings to the Northern SE Alaska community of Gustavus.

They receive ferry service two days per week most of the year. From Juneau, the ferry ride should take you about four-and-a-half hours.

It’s recommended to make reservations in advance especially if you have a vehicle. Prices without a vehicle can be as low as $60.

For an extra $30 you can add things like kayaks and bicycles.

If you have some type of motor vehicle it will be a lot more expensive. For example, a small car will probably cost around $160 although prices will vary.

If you want to explore the schedule and pricing you can find those here.

Cruise Ship

Large cruise ships like Holland America, Norwegian Cruise, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc. do not dock anywhere in Gustavus/Glacier Bay National Park but many of them will spend a full day taking you through the park.

Final word

Getting to Gustavus, Alaska (GST) is relatively easy and cheap. If I could go back in time, I would have booked the seaplane for the scenic ride although it was a unique experience to fly a 737 into such a small airport.

And while you can cut things close with day trips to Gustavus for the boat tour, be mindful that the weather can ground these planes and you may not have enough time to make the boat tour if there is a delay.

Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour Review: Read This Before You Go!

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in the US.

It’s home to some surreal glacier scenery and a ton of wildlife. One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a ride on the Glacier Bay Day Tour.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything that you need to know before booking your tour on the Glacier Bay Day (boat) Tour.

What is the Glacier Bay Day Tour?

The Glacier Bay Day Tour is the premier boat tour for exploring Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.

It’s an all day affair lasting approximately eight hours and it will take you to several glaciers and give you chances to encounter the various types of wildlife that inhabit the region including bears, whales, otters, and a lot more.

Related: How to Get to Gustavus, Alaska (Glacier Bay)

How do you book the Glacier Bay Day Tour?

You can book a spot on the boat tour online here.

Here are the prices:

  • Adult: $243.74
  • Child (Ages 3-12): $122.69

Note that they don’t allow changes or cancellations within 72 hours.

The boat departs from the Bartlett Cove public dock which is located just outside of Glacier Bay Lodge.

While you don’t have to stay at the lodge to partake in the tour, it’s very convenient if you can book a stay at the lodge. I really enjoyed my stay at the lodge and you can read all about it here.

Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour Experience


Boarding begins at 7AM and the boat will depart at 7:30AM sharp.

I would suggest that you get there right on time at 7 AM.

That’s because they will begin the boarding process then and allow you to choose your seat which will probably be where you will be seated the entire time.

Related: Mendenhall Glacier Ultimate Guide: Tips for Exploring

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour dock
Headed down the dock for boarding.

We chose to go directly upstairs and lock down a seat but there really aren’t any bad seats.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour dock


There are two cabin levels and both have indoor seating sections with large windows. I believe the seats are even heated.

The bottom level is larger than the top level and is where you will find the concession stand, ranger table station, and the bathrooms.

Glacier Bay National Park boat seats

Our catamaran had three one-person bathrooms, which come with a sink and hand dryer.

Glacier Bay National Park boat seats bathroom
Glacier Bay National Park boat seats bathroom

The concession stand offers free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate and you can purchase soda along with alcoholic beverages.

They also have a variety of snacks like chips, chocolate bars, and a host of souvenirs. Prices are listed below.

Glacier Bay National Park boat concession stand
Glacier Bay National Park boat concession stand

The bottom deck has a small dedicated ranger station table where you can find maps and other resources. It’s really helpful to follow along with the help of one of their maps so you can know what you’re looking at.

Glacier Bay National Park boat ranger stand

Don’t forget to get your passport stamp!

Glacier Bay National Park boat stamp

As for the views, you should be able to get some good views from downstairs. Each window has a towel to help you wipe it down in case things get fogged up which will likely happen.

Glacier Bay National Park boat windows

The top level is where we spent most of our time.

It’s a smaller cabin but I preferred the higher vantage point for spotting wildlife.

Glacier Bay National Park boat second deck seats

Whenever we spotted something interesting, a lot of passengers from downstairs flooded the viewing deck so being upstairs just makes it that much easier to get a good front-row seat of the action.

Weather & water conditions

Weather can be an issue on these tours.

Once we started, it didn’t look like we would have a nice day on the water. Visibility was very limited and rain showers made it uncomfortable to be outside.

But things eventually opened up a good amount so don’t get too discouraged if the day doesn’t start off very nice.

Water conditions were great and I think they are usually pretty calm because you are not in the open ocean.

If you are prone to seasickness you might still want to take some Dramamine but chances are you will not have a bad time.

Very little visibility to start off the tour.


Even with low visibility we spotted some whales and sea otters.

In fact, the first whale we saw came about 10 seconds into the tour which was a nice surprise.

As for the sea otters, you can expect to see dozens and dozens or perhaps hundreds of these fury animals on your tour. Their population has made a huge rebound over here.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otter

Sometimes otters are bobbing away by themselves but other times they hang out in “rafts” with as many as a dozen or more otters together.

It can sometimes be a little difficult to distinguish kelp from the otters but usually the big clown feet sticking up in the air is a dead giveaway that you’re looking at an otter.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otters

Shy otters will quickly dive below the surface when you approach but other curious otters will hang out on the surface giving you a great view.

Take a close look at them and you might see a smaller baby otter floating on top of a mama.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour otter

Things started to get exciting as we approached South Marble Island.

This is when visibility started to get a little bit better and when we really got a close look at some of the wildlife. So have your camera ready.

You’ll find a ton of stellar sea lions hanging out and jockeying for position on the rocks.

Glacier Bay National Park South Marble Island seals
Glacier Bay National Park South Marble Island seals

It’s also a great place to catch puffins which will likely be on the water’s surface. They have two types of puffins out here and we saw the “Tufted Puffins.” (The Horned Puffins are more rare to see.)

Glacier Bay National Park puffins

Take a close look at these birds and you might see some with a mouth full of fish!

Glacier Bay National Park puffin

Equally entertaining is watching them takeoff. Not the most graceful as they are better swimmers than they are flyers.

Glacier Bay National Park puffin

The eagle-eyed park ranger and supporting staff is always on the lookout for wildlife during your tour.

You can stand near them to help you find the wildlife but they will also broadcast over the speaker system when something cool is found.

One instance where they really helped us spot wildlife is when we encountered the mountain goats at Gloomy Knob which were perched high on the grey rocks. You can see two of them in the middle of the photograph below.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour Mountain goats

It didn’t take very long for us to spot our first bear which was a beautiful brown bear roaming the intertidal zone. A pretty unbelievable site.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour brown bear

This is also when I realized just how covered the intertidal zones were with marine life. I had never seen so many sea stars in my life and many of them were quite huge.

After the bear sighting, we ended up seeing another brown bear although this one was farther away.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour brown bear

In addition to that, we also had a black bear sighting with a mama and cub and then another black bear sighting near the end of the tour.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour black bear
A black bear on the rocks in the middle left.
Glacier Bay National Park boat tour black bear

So that was a total of five bears spotted!

The humpback whales were also very active on this day. We probably spotted ~15 to 20 of them.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales

Many times, they were together in pods of 3 to 5 which made it really easy to spot the blowholes.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales
The humpback whales really put on a show.

Other times, it was just one solo whale doing its thing.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whales

Later on, we did a whale watching tour from Juneau which was nice but we did not spot nearly as many whales on that tour so I really do think this is a prime whale watching location.

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whale
Glacier Bay National Park boat tour humpback whale

The other fascinating marine life had to be the orcas.

Two of them made an appearance later on in the tour and I was surprised to see that they were relatively close to a couple of the humpback whales.

The killer whales are easy to spot because of their large black dorsal fin. I’ve never seen killer whales before so this was an amazing first encounter for me!

Glacier Bay National Park boat tour orca


You see a handful of glaciers on your boat tour including several tidewater glaciers, which are glaciers that come down to the surface of the ocean and it’s what makes Glacier Bay National Park special in my opinion.

You’ll know you’re getting close to the glaciers when it starts getting a little colder and you start spotting white chunks of ice drifting in the water.

Some of them are small but others are quite large although I don’t think many or any would be officially classified as icebergs since they don’t need the size requirements.

Glacier Bay National Park iceberg
Glacier Bay National Park iceberg

Some animals like to hang out on the big chunks of ice so be sure to scan them for wildlife.

Glacier Bay National Park iceberg

The main glacier attraction on our tour was the 21-mile long Margerie Glacier, found at the northern end of Tarr Inlet.

It’s a stable glacier neither advancing nor receding and about 1 mile wide. If you count the 100 feet of glacier below the water’s surface, the total glacier stands about 350 feet tall. That’s a lot of ice.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier

Right when we showed up a small calving event took place.

We stood in amazement as large pieces of glacier break off and crashed into the ocean.

This is one of the most active glaciers for ice calving, so your boat will stop and hang around for a while so that you can witness some of the action. Have your camera ready because it happens fast. If you hear it, it may be too late.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier calving

I’d estimate that the “splash” hit about 40 to 50 feet high.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier calving

We then waited for another calving event but unfortunately that was all the glacier had offered for us that day.

I will say that I thought we were going to get a little bit closer to the glacier although I understand there is such thing as getting too close.

If you look to the right of the glacier in the photo below, that is the much less photogenic Grand Pacific Glacier and the border with Canada is just beyond that.

Glacier Bay National Park Margerie Glacier
Glacier Bay is full of beautiful colored water near the glaciers.

Luckily, we still had a few additional glaciers to spot on the way out like the Lamplugh Glacier. This is a glacier that suffered a massive landslide back in 2015 which now covers a large portion of the glacier. (I don’t think the landslide is viewable from the boat.)

Lamplugh Glacier.

Another beautiful glacier was the 11-mile-long Reid Glacier.

Reid Glacier

Sometimes, you’re not exactly sure as to what glacier you’re looking at but all you know is that it’s quite a striking scene!

Somehow a piece of ice landed on our boat!


Included in your tour is a complimentary lunch consisting of a sandwich (turkey, roast beef, ham), potato chips, snacks, and bottled water. Veggie options are available, too.

It’s very basic but you (hopefully) did not come here for the food….

Whenever lunch is served, a line will form downstairs that can get quite long although it moves relatively quickly.

So my advice would be to get moving as soon as they announce lunch so that you can avoid waiting in line. However, if you’re not hungry I believe you can pick up lunch items later on.

What to wear

If you plan on spending a lot of time inside the cabin and only coming out to check out some sites then all you probably need is a standard waterproof jacket with an insulating layer underneath. A beanie or some type of hat and gloves would also be nice.

But if you’re planning on spending the vast majority of your time outside like I did you probably want an additional layer of protection. That’s because when you’re moving the wind chill can get you shivering real fast.

I stayed pretty warm utilizing a balaclava facemask which really helped with the wind on the upper deck.

I pulled my waterproof jacket hood over my head and switched between a beanie and hat to keep me warm. Underneath my jacket I had a pull over fleece which worked pretty well although at times I was tempted to put on my puffer jacket.

When the cold would really become an issue I would head inside for a few minutes to warm up and grab a glass of tea or hot chocolate. Then I would be right back out.

When outside on the upper deck, the warmest spot is directly behind the cabin because you are sheltered from the wind. You can still peak around the corner to get your photographs or views.

How to spot wildlife

If you’ve never been on a tour like this before you should know that spotting wildlife is not always so easy.

First, let’s state the obvious: there is no guarantee of wildlife showing up although some animals like otters, seals, and whales seem like they are virtually guaranteed in season.

Second, it’s really helpful to have proper expectations when going on a tour like this.

Many of the animals you’ll be seeing will appear much smaller than you would think when they are perched hundreds of feet high on rocky hills or when they’re strolling along the beach hundreds of yards away.

So here are some good tips to consider:

Get some binoculars

In my opinion, binoculars are a necessity on a trip like this. You don’t have to break the bank to get a decent pair of binoculars, either. Look for binoculars with a magnification of either 8 or 10, and a lens size of 40 or 42. Here is a highly rated pair you can find on Amazon.

Pay attention to the rangers

Listen to the park rangers and they will tell you which direction to look (e.g., 3 o’clock). They are also good about helping you locate objects by following mountain ridges, tree patches, etc.

Remember port side is the left side of the boat and starboard is the right side.

Be quick

You need to be quick because the boat can’t always slow down in time and sometimes you only have a few seconds to see something. Auto focus will really help you out here.

If you’re recording video, just start slowly zooming in towards the direction everyone is pointing and you might be able to capture the wildlife if your naked eye is struggling to see it.

Move about

I regularly switched sides on the boat to maximize my odds of seeing wildlife.

Unless I was specifically looking for whales, I usually focused on the side nearest to the shore since that is where you find bears, moose, etc.

Don’t give up!

On several occasions I struggled to find whatever animal was spotted and just before I was about to give up, there it was! Don’t give up on searching for the wildlife until there’s absolutely no chance to see it.

Camera gear

This was my first true attempt at wildlife photography.

It was also my first time using a 300mm lens, so this was a pretty big learning experience for me. A true trial by ice one might say….

I feel like a 300mm is good enough to get some great shots of some of the wildlife whenever they are relatively close, especially things like the otters and some whales.

But I really think 400mm+ is where it’s at.

A faster lens with a large aperture is going to be ideal although those can get expensive. Consider renting or purchasing a used lens on Amazon/Ebay to save a lot of money.

At least one person had a tripod so lugging around a huge lens is a possibility if you’re willing to put up with it. A monopod would probably be better, though.

And if you don’t have a fancy DSLR, you can still get good footage with something like an iPhone — you just won’t be able to capture the fine details on objects far away.

Taking in all the scenery

In your quest to spot all the wildlife you can and to catch some calving ice at the glaciers, you might get distracted enough to forget to take in all of the scenery.

There are nonstop photo opportunities throughout the tour so be sure to dedicate some time for some landscape photography.

They limit the amount of cruise ships in the bay every day so you’ll be delighted to know that it’s not a madhouse out there with cruise ships.

Honestly, I thought it was pretty cool to view the cruise ships because they make for good photos and provide great scale for the landscape. Here are a few shots I got.

Final word

The Glacier Bay day tour is one of the best ways to spend an entire day in Glacier Bay National Park. The experience surpassed my expectations in almost every regard. You’ll be blown away by the scenery and constantly amazed by the wildlife appearances.

18 Jurassic Park Filming Sites in Hawaii + How to Visit Each One [Full List]

Jurassic Park is one of the most epic movies of our generation and it’s approaching its 30th year anniversary in 2023.

One of the coolest parts about this film is that you can still visit a lot of the filming locations if you ever make your way to Hawaii.

And many of these locations are pretty epic in their own right.

When visiting these spots, you’ll soar over vast canyons, off-road into lush jungle terrain, scramble along muddy cliff sides, and other times, just casually enjoy more low-key experiences like guided tours and grubbing out on fish tacos.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll give you all the detailed information and tips you need to know about visiting these filming locations, since it’s not always so simple to check out some of these.

I’ll show you exactly where these places are and give you examples of stills from the movie so that you can line up your own shots.

Overview of Jurassic Park filming sites

Because there are so many places to see, it helps the first narrow down your island or islands.

Choosing your island(s)

If you primarily want to see sites from the original 1993 Jurassic Park movie then the Hawaiian island of Kauai is where you want to be.

Because that is where the vast majority of Isla Nublar (Jurassic Park’s island) shots were taken.

There was one iconic shot taken in Oahu and a couple of helicopter shots in Maui but for the most part Kauai is THE island for Jurassic Park movie destinations.

If you’re only spending time in Honolulu/Waikiki but still interested in Jurassic Park sites, you’ll be able to see a lot of Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sites in Oahu. I cover those in my detailed Jurassic World article.

However, this post is focused on Jurassic Park, so I will assume that is where your focus is now.

Arial view of waterfall.
The stunning Jurassic Falls seen from a helicopter.

Choosing your sites

Here is a list of all of the Jurassic Park sites in this article.

I’ve organized them by location, access, price, and estimated time needed to visit and get your shots.

For access, “Public” just means that you can drive up/Uber to the spot.

Also, “free” means that you can visit/get your photos without having to pay but you may have the option to pay for additional things like food or tours.

Limahuli GardenKauaiPublicFree10 min
Hoopii Falls KauaiHikingFree1.5 to 2hrs
Al Pastor TacosKauaiPublicFree30 min
Jurassic FallsKauaiHelicopter$$$2 hrs
Jurassic Gates and T-Rex PaddockKauaiHiking or 4X4Free2 to 5 hrs
Olokele CanyonKauaiHelicopter$$$2 hrs
Allerton GardenKauaiTour Needed$$3 hrs
Nāwiliwili Bay (Jetty)KauaiPublicFree30 min
Kauai Beach ClubKauaiPublicFree30 min
Jurassic Kahili RanchKauaiRoadside viewFree5 min
Valley House Plantation EstateKauaiNo entryN/AN/A
Kualoa RanchOahuTour Needed$$3hrs
Jurassic RockMauiHelicopter$$$2 hrs

If you’re strictly focused on the island of Kauai then my recommendation would be to go for this shortlist of sites:

  • Allerton Garden
  • Limahuli Garden
  • Hoopi Falls
  • Jurassic Falls
  • Al Pastor Tacos
  • Jurassic Gates/T-rex Paddock
  • Storm Jetty/Marriott

You could visit all of those shortlist sites in 2 to 3 days depending on how willing you are to stuff your schedule and how much of a priority you want to give Jurassic Park sites during your time in Hawaii.

However, you might want to give yourself 3 to 5 days because you never know how the weather might play out and chances are you’ll want to do some other non-Jurassic Park related things.

One thing you want to think about beforehand is what helicopter tours (if any) you will do.

Olokele Canyon is left off the shortlist because otherwise the list would require you to do two helicopter rides (Jurassic Falls and Olokele Canyon).

Two helicopter rides might be doable for you on a “spare no expense” tour but keep in mind that both of those two helicopter tours are doors-on which means that you’ll maybe have to deal with glares in your photos and videos.

Personally, we opted to do one doors-on tour to Jurassic Falls and then a doors-off tour where we were able to view Olokele Canyon (just not land on it).

Jurassic Park filming sites map

If you are a map person, here is a map of all the Jurassic Park filming locations:

Man walking at Jurassic Gates.
Headed to the Jurassic Gates.

Jurassic Park film sites in Hawaii

Limahuli Garden (Kauai)

The very beginning of Jurassic Park opens up with a dark and somewhat terrifying scene of a Jurassic Park gatekeeper getting viciously eaten by a hungry velociraptor after a botched transfer — the infamous “shoot herrr!” scene.

Later on, we see Dr. Grant visit the raptor paddock in the daytime as they feed another hungry raptor its lunch.

And finally, Ellie and Muldoon walk past this paddock later on in the movie.

All of the raptor paddock scenes were filmed at Limahuli Garden, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which is located on the north side of the island. Specifically, the visitor center occupies the same space that the raptor paddock occupied.

Limahuli Garden, building with mountains in background.

Here are the movie stills:

Limahuli Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:53 (Universal)
Limahuli Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 31:41 (Universal)

The mountain ridges in the background of the scene below are the giveaway as to where this location is and you can line up your shot by referring to those.

Limahuli Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 32:52 (Universal)

Here is the shot we got which lines up pretty well.

Limahuli Garden visitor center.

You don’t actually have to book a tour or pay anything to visit the visitor center but you do need to proceed through the entrance gate to get there.

If you are visiting when the establishment is closed you can park on the side of the road nearby and just walk in.

Just make sure that you walk to the actual visitor center and that you don’t get it confused with one of the buildings out in front which don’t quite line up with the shot.

About those raptors… Velociraptors in Jurassic Park are three times their actual size. But during the movie’s creation, paleontologists discovered a new, much larger raptor called the “Utahraptor” which was about the same exact size as the raptors in the movie.

Hoopii Falls (Kauai)

Towards the beginning of the movie, Donald Gennaro, the lawyer sent to inspect Jurassic Park, is pulled across a stream to the Mano De Dios Amber Mine, where he seeks to get information on Dr. Grant related to the park’s upcoming inspection.

Both the stream he is pulled across and the amber mine where they discover dino DNA are found at the same spot at Hoopii Falls.

You’ll need to bust out your hiking skills to get to the spot.

It’s not a very difficult hike but there are some relatively steep sections on this 2.5 to 3 mile hike.

I would rate the hike as an easy to moderate hike and if you want some tips on how to get there I put together a detailed guide on how to hike to the falls.

Hoopii Falls, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 3:48 (Universal)
Water at bottom of Hoopii Falls.

The flow of the waterfall is a little bit different these days so the backdrop doesn’t look exactly the same but if you focus on the rocks on the ledge, you can line your shot up.

(Sadly, the mine cave does not really exist.)

Hoopii Falls, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 4:14 (Universal)
Hoopii Falls.

Al Pastor Tacos (Kauai)

When Dennis Nedry and Dr. Lewis Dodgson were meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica to discuss the terms of their clandestine arrangement where Nedry would hand over InGen’s valuable dino DNA, it takes place here.

(By the way, San Jose, Costa Rica is definitely NOT located on the coast.)

Today, there are various food trucks including Al Pastor Tacos which occupy the space. We tried the fish tacos which were very solid but you also have some other great options like Chicken in A Barrel located next door.

It’s a little bit difficult to line up the shot because trees can obviously change shape after 30 years and you’re dealing with some other structures like a portable toilet in the way.

But if you take a little bit of time you’ll see that the three trees in the background match the shot and that it’s very possible to line up the frame.

On our visit, parked cars were where the table was but we still got a good shot of the background.

Al Pastor Tacos, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 13:40 (Universal)
You can now relieve yourself at a Jurassic Park scene.

The other shot from the movie shows a building in the background but that building is no longer there and was replaced by a furniture building.

Did you know? When Nedry is shouting out “DodgsonWeve got Dodgson here!” It’s because Nedry was secretly recording the encounter and wanted to have evidence to blackmail Dodgson.

Jurassic Falls (Kauai)

When Dr. Grant and others arrive via helicopter on Isla Nublar they zoom through steep canyons and then erratically touchdown at the base of Jurassic Falls.

It’s one of the most epic scenes of the movie and you can actually book a helicopter tour that will land you very close to where they landed.

You then have the opportunity to stand at the base of the Manawaiopuna Falls aka Jurassic Falls and re-enact a few different shots from the movie. We did the tour which runs about $360 and you can read all about it here.

In a nutshell, it’s an awesome way to experience this Jurassic Park related site but if you get stuck in the back row, especially in one of the two middle seats, your views are very limited which can make it harder to enjoy.

Jurassic Falls, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 18:19 (Universal)
Jurassic Falls Manawaiopuna Falls

Foreshadowing? When they are landing at the waterfall and Dr. Grant struggles to buckle his seatbelt because he has two “female” buckles, it’s said that this is foreshadowing nature “finding its way” to reproduce with all female dinosaurs. 

Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve (Kauai)

The Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve is home to two absolutely iconic scenes: the Jurassic Park Gates and the T-Rex Paddock 

When the two Ford Explorers first enter Jurassic Park they make their way into the park through the ginormous wooden doors which prompts Ian Malcolm’s memorable line, “What do they got in there? King Kong?”

You can hike to this legendary spot or you can simply off-road which should be the way that I would recommend. There’s just something that feels special about taking a trip through this remote jungle terrain in a 4X4.

I did a detailed write up on visiting both of these destinations so I would suggest for you to check that out to get more information (including helpful GPS waypoints).

Out of all of the Jurassic Park sites we visited, I probably enjoyed this one the most just because it felt so secluded out in the jungle and it took a little bit of adventuring to get there.

When you visit the spot at the gate there are two poles that supposedly mark the location of the gates. But it’s disputed that these are in the right position and the correct spot might actually be a few hundred feet farther down.

Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 41:31 (Universal)
Jurassic Park gates at Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.
“Welcome to Jurassic Park”

About 45 minutes into the movie, the tour takes them by the tyrannosaurus paddock where the staff of Jurassic Park tries to lure out the dinosaur with a sacrificial goat that pops up from below.

The T-Rex Paddock is about a mile past where the Jurassic Park Gates poles are located and the good thing about this location is it’s very easy to lineup where the shot was taken.

Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 44:23 (Universal)
Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.

Did you know? The Tyrannosaurus’ roars consisted of a mixture of of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and elephant sounds.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous this is also where the trail begins to the Blue Hole which takes you up close to the Weeping Wall, an amazing site full of waterfalls.

It’s an all-day event though and it will require you to get wet and navigate river crossings so don’t take that challenge too lightly.

Lihue-Koloa Forest Reserve.
The area behind the T-Rex paddock is a perfect spot to relax.

Olokele Canyon (Kauai)

After avoiding a Gallimimus stampede, Dr. Grant and the kids are making their way back to the visitor center and they stumble upon a large electrical fence.

Rather than fit the kids through the gaps in the fence that surely they could fit through they choose to climb. And unfortunately for little Timmy, he is stuck on the fence when they were rebooting the power and he gets electrocuted.

That entire scene, which I believe was done on the first day of filming, was filmed on top of a ridge in Olokele Canyon.

This is on private property but you can take a (doors-on) helicopter tour that actually lands at this location and get access that way.

We opted to just view it from a doors off helicopter tour since we were already doing the Jurassic Falls tour which is also doors on.

Olokele Canyon, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:40:17 (Universal)
Olokele Canyon.
Olokele Canyon.

If you’re doing the Jurassic Falls helicopter tour then you can probably get a glimpse of Olokele Canyon, although you might not be able to see exactly where that spot was filmed.

We also did a hike in Waimea Canyon which gave us a partial view of where they filmed the scene but I don’t think you can see the actual spot because it is behind a large ridge.

Allerton Garden (Kauai)

Allerton Garden, also a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, is a must for Jurassic Park fans because it’s home to several different scenes from the movie.

If you do a tour here, you can see the sights from the following scenes:

  • Discovery of raptor eggs
  • Clever girl scene
  • Run to the emergency shelter
  • Dilophosaurus paddock

The most recognizable shot from Allerton Garden is probably the discovery of the raptor eggs by Dr. Grant.

He discovers these hatched eggs inside a nest in some impressive fig tree roots as he realizes that life, indeed, does find a way.

Allerton Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:30:25 (Universal)
Allerton Garden.
Discovering raptor eggs at Allerton Garden.

You can check out this exact location by doing a tour of Allerton Garden which is a pretty worthwhile attraction.

They offer several different types of tours but my recommendation would be to do the Allerton Garden sunset tour because that is one of the tours that allows you to cruise around at sunset in a Jurassic Park golf cart for a little bit. Read about my experience with that tour here.

The infamous “clever girl” scene also takes place here. It was shot at the spot where there is a mermaid water feature that you will surely see on one of your tours. (It’s right by the fig trees.)

Allerton Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:45:11 (Universal)
Water feature at Allerton Garden.
Somewhere behind that statue, “clever girl” was born.

On the other side of the mermaid water feature, there’s an open grassy area which is where Ellie was making her best limping effort to get to the maintenance shed.

Allerton Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:39:14 (Universal)
Man running at Allerton Garden.

I also read that right next to the fig trees is where the Dilophosaurus paddock was.

When you are standing next to the fig trees you can look across the stream and you will see a dirt road and that is the road that the Explorers were driving on when they shot that scene.

I tried to line up trees from that shot but I wasn’t able to find anything that seemed like a direct match, though a couple of trees came close.

Allerton Garden, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 42:24 (Universal)
Allerton Garden.
Inside the Dilophosaurus paddock!

Like I said, I’d recommend doing the sunset tour which comes with a dinner and lets you cruise around in a Jurassic Park golf cart.

Man sitting in golf cart at Allerton Garden.

There’s also a worker at Allerton Garden (Pat?) who has been working there since the late 1980s.

She was there during the filming of Jurassic Park and had some cool stories to share about what it was like to be there.

I’d definitely spend some time talking to her if you get the chance.

Nāwiliwili Bay Jetty (Kauai)

While they were filming Jurassic Park on Kauai in 1992 and only one day away from completion, Hurricane Iniki blew through and it was a doozy.

Initially, it looked like it was going to head west past Hawaii but at the last second it took a quick turn north directly towards Kauai, making landfall on September 11th.

It’s still the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Hawaii in recorded history and it struck during El Nino allowing it to intensify to unprecedented levels.

When hurricane Iniki blew through, director Steven Spielberg took advantage of that opportunity to film some actual storm footage that he used in the movie.

It’s a really short scene but at around 54 minutes into the film you can see large waves crashing into a jetty.

Nāwiliwili Bay Jetty, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 54:13 (Universal)
Nāwiliwili Bay Jetty.
The jetty on a much calmer day.

I believe these shots were filmed from Kalapaki Beach outside of the Marriott Kauai Beach Club.

If you drive around the Marriott Kauai Beach Club area you’ll be able to easily see the jetty.

If you can’t access the beach, a good way to get a good view is to head over to where the Kuki’i Point Lighthouse is located, at the end of the golf course.

The public has access to some stairs right at the edge of the golf course and you can walk down to a rocky area where you have some pretty impressive views.

This is a great way to get the jetty shots if you don’t have a super powerful telephoto lens because it is much closer than the beach is to the jetty.

Nāwiliwili Bay Jetty, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 54:16 (Universal)
Nāwiliwili Bay Jetty.

Chickens on the loose. When you visit Kauai you’ll no doubt be surprised at how many wild chickens you encounter. Some speculate these chickens are descendants of birds that escaped after Iniki blew coops wide open.

Marriott’ Kauai Beach Club (Kauai)

The jetty in front of this hotel was featured in the movie but the hotel itself was not. Still, this is an interesting site for true Jurassic Park fans.

When Hurricane Iniki blew through, the production crew decided to ride it out at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club where they were already staying during their three weeks of production. (The hotel went by a different name back then.)

Specifically, they held up in the hotel’s ballroom with catering, back-up generators, and all of that movie set equipment that could come in handy when trying to ride out a hurricane.

At one point they even put a harness on someone so that he could step outside and check the latest weather conditions on his radio.

There’s some video footage from the hurricane that shows them wandering the premises and hanging out in the ballroom so it was easy to verify this hotel.

Marriott' Kauai Beach Club.

The strong wind gusts from the hurricane, which reportedly hit over 200 mph, did some damage to the ballroom as water was finding its way in.

But it seems that for the most part the ballroom held up pretty well and everybody was safe inside.

Everyone from the crew passed time a little bit differently and Spielberg spent some of his time telling the kids ghost stories (one could only imagine how vivid those were).

Apparently Richard Attenborough (Dr. Hammond) slept through the hurricane and when questioned by Spielberg as to how he did it, he famously said “My boy, I survived the Blitz.”

As long as the hotel ballroom is not being used for some type of event you should be able to get a glimpse of it.

ball room room at Marriott' Kauai Beach Club.

To put the ultimate cap on our Jurassic Park experience we decided to stay at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club for two nights.

It wasn’t the most impressive hotel stay but it was super cool to spend a couple of nights in the same location that the 100+ person crew did during filming.

Jurassic Kahili Ranch (Kauai)

When Dr. Hammond first brings everyone to Jurassic Park they swerve down the hillside in Jeeps and then stumble across a brachiosaurus who promptly does an impressive (but unnecessary?) stand up move to get some grub off a tree.

Soon after that we see a herd of dinosaurs hanging out by a pond and the reality of Jurassic Park starts to sink in for the paleontologists.

Jurassic Kahili Ranch, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 22:14 (Universal)
Jurassic Kahili Ranch.

Both of those scenes were shot somewhere on the Jurassic Kahili Ranch.

Unless you are able to obtain special access which appears to be ridiculously difficult, you’ll only be able to view this site from the roadside.

I don’t think you can actually see any of the sites that were used in the film from the roadside but you can still get a good glimpse of the property which is pretty beautiful and looks similar to what is in the movie.

Valley House Plantation Estate (Kauai)

The Jurassic Park visitor center that appears multiple times in the film was located at the Valley House Plantation Estate.

It only existed as a façade though because all of the interior shots were done in studio.

Valley House Plantation Estate, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 23:04 (Universal)

This is probably the most confusing site to me.

It’s difficult to find a verified address and the address I did find online brought me to a location that did not seem like it was the entrance to a plantation estate though maybe it was super hidden?

Regardless, it’s all private property and they don’t appear to be open to visitors of any kind so I would not count on making a visit to this place.

Other shots filmed at this site include: the sick triceratops, the emergency bunker, and whenever Dr. Grant and Ellie reunite.

Kualoa Ranch (Oahu)

Kualoa Ranch is where many blockbuster films have been shot over the years and it’s essentially Hollywood’s Hawaii backlot.

It’s got several Jurassic World scenes located throughout the property that you can check out on the Jurassic Adventure Tour which we did and thoroughly enjoyed.

But there was one scene from Jurassic Park shot at this location, too.

Because of the hurricane blowing through Kauai, the producers had to move locations at the last minute and that’s why the Gallimimus stampede scene was shot at Kualoa Ranch in Oahu.

It’s the “they’re flocking this way” scene where Dr. Grant and the kids run behind a large piece of driftwood to hide during the stampede before a T-Rex comes on the scene to pick off a Gallimimus.

If you do the Jurassic tour, you’ll stop at a driftwood spot which is where the trio hid for cover during the stampede.

Kualoa Ranch, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 1:35:46 (Universal)
Kualoa Ranch Jurassic Park log

The buzzkill is that the original piece of wood used in the film is no longer there because dead wood has a tendency to rot pretty quickly in such a tropical climate.

But you can still pose for some cool photos at that spot.

It’s a little difficult to line up the background exactly the way it was behind the log but it’s still really cool to check out that spot.

Jurassic Rock (Maui)

When the team is first arriving at Jurassic Park, they fly past an iconic rock, Keōpuka Rock, located off the shore which is now referred to as “Jurassic Rock.”

This is located off the coast of Maui and I believe you can get helicopter tours to take you to it.

Jurassic Rock, Jurassic Park movie scene.
Jurassic Park scene at 16:44 (Universal)

Also, the following shots when the helicopter zipping through steep canyon walls were also done here in Honokohau Valley along with a shot of Honokohau Falls. I suspect you can see those by helicopter.

Some sources have stated that the shots were done in Kauai but I did not see any steep canyon walls resembling the footage from the movie so I think they were all done in Maui.

Lost World & Jurassic Park 3 Sites

If you’re also interested in checking out Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 sites, I have some of the major sites below.

There are definitely more locations worth adding and I will probably continue to add more sites as I come across them.

If you know of any other sites that should be added to the list just let me know in the comments!

Nawiliwili Harbor (Kauai)

When Dr. Malcolm is first arriving at Isla Sorna there’s a quick backdrop behind his boat that is at Nawiliwili Harbor. Interestingly, this is right next to the storm jetty that was featured in the original Jurassic Park (discussed above).

We weren’t able to hop on a boat in the middle of the harbor to get the shot but we did get it from the other side of the harbor near the lighthouse which is also where we got the photos of the jetty.

You can recognize this shot by focusing on the large hump found on top of the ridge.

Nawiliwili Harbor, Jurassic Park III movie scene.
Jurassic Park III scene at 20:11 (Universal)
Nawiliwili Harbor lighthouse.

Kipu Kai (Kauai)

At the beginning of The Lost World, the Bowman family is being served up a fancy lunch on the beach while their daughter, Cathy, wanders off and has an encounter with the Compsognathus that does not turn out too well for her and her family.

It’s on this sandy beach at Kipu Kai that the scene takes place.

Apparently, Kipu Kai beach is very difficult to access and while you can get there with a boat or kayak it’s not necessarily recommended which is why we only checked it out from the air.

Just about any helicopter tour should be able to take you over this beach because it is so close to the airport.

Kipu Kai, The Lost World Jurassic Park scene.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park scene at 2:32 (Universal)
Arial view of beach at Kipu Kai.
Kipu Kai beach.

Pilaa Beach (Kauai)

At the end of Jurassic Park III, when the Navy and Marines storm the beach and everybody is being rescued, this scene takes place at Pilaa Beach.

Pilaa Beach, Jurassic Park III scene.
Jurassic Park III scene at 1:22:11 (Universal)

The area surrounding the beach is owned by none other than Mark Zuckerberg but you can still access the beach by hiking down steep jungle terrain to the rocky shore and boulder hopping your way to the beach.

When we visited this beach we came across the remains of a 60 foot sperm whale which was one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen in nature. (Thankfully, it was pretty much all skeleton remains left.)

If you don’t want to hike all the way down, you can still view the beach from the top of the hill at the trailhead.

Pilaa Beach.
Pilaa Beach.

Dillingham Air Field (Oahu)

Dillingham Air Field has played a role in a lot of movies and shows.

In Jurassic Park 3, Dr. Grant is tricked into landing on Isla Sorna and after some ill-advised use of a megaphone, he has a run-in with a Spinosaurus that leaves them stranded on the island.

This was shot at Dillingham Air Field.

Dillingham Air Field, Jurassic Park III scene.
Jurassic Park III scene at 22:00 (Universal)

The same airstrip is also used in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Dillingham Air Field, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom scene.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom scene at 25:00 (Universal)

You can get a shot of the backdrop used in these movies from the side of the road outside of the airfield. However, I’d say this is one of the least interesting sites to visit.

I believe the airfield does offer tours so you might look into those especially if you are a fan of Lost.

Otherwise, this is a good airport to get adventurous and try out skydiving if you’re into that type of thing.

Dillingham Air Field.
Dillingham Air Field.

Ne Pali Coast (Kauai)

The Ne Pali Coast is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the world and it’s been used to portray two different islands in the Jurassic Park universe.

It’s used at the beginning of The Lost World when we are first introduced to Isla Sorna and later on whenever Dr. Malcolm is arriving to the island.

Ne Pali Coast, The Lost World Jurassic Park scene.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park scene at 0:59 (Universal)
Ne Pali Coast, The Lost World Jurassic Park scene.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park scene at 20:00 (Universal)

The Ne Pali Coast makes yet another appearance in the Jurassic Park universe but this time at the beginning of Jurassic World when visitors first arrive at Isla Nublar and it also appears at the end of the movie.

Ne Pali Coast, Jurassic World scene.
Jurassic World scene at 1:55:03 (Universal)

We visited this breathtaking stretch of coast two times on separate helicopter tours while in Kauai.

The aerial views are stunning but the coast may best to be appreciated from the water which is also the best way to get the shots used in the Jurassic Park movies.

Try to time your visit for the late afternoon or just before sunset for the best lighting on this side of the island.

Arial view of Ne Pali Coast.

Final word

Jurassic Park is a movie that holds a special place with many people, especially those of us who grew up in the 90s.

It was an absolute dream to visit so many of these places and also very interesting to see how these sites looked in real life.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Kauai, I would highly recommend you to check out many of the sites — you won’t be disappointed!

USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park Guide

The state of Arizona has a special relationship to the USS Arizona and so it is no surprise that throughout the state you can find different memorials dedicated to the fallen Marines and sailors of the ship.

One of the most interesting memorials is the one found near the the Arizona Capitol at Bolin Memorial Park.

Below, I’ll walk you through the different sites you’ll see when visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park.

What is the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park?

The USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is a special part of the Memorial Plaza that pays tribute to those who lost their life while serving on the USS Arizona and also to all of the heroes of World War II.

At this memorial, you’ll find the USS Arizona anchor, signal mast, and gun barrels from both of the USS Arizona and USS Missouri.

This USS Arizona memorial is one of several memorials found in Phoenix.

Another USS Arizona memorial in Phoenix is called the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River (read all about it here).

It’s a beautiful memorial to visit at night when you can stroll through rows of glowing columns that form an actual size perimeter of the ship.

The memorial also houses a relic from the ship, known as the “boathouse relic,” which was originally used for the memorial at the site of the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Eventually, the memorial was found unstable and they replaced it with the current memorial that stands today.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River

There’s another USS Arizona memorial on the campus of University of Arizona in Tucson.

It’s home to one of the bells from the USS Arizona and it’s currently hanging in a clock tower. (Each month, the bell would be rung symbolically but they recently stopped doing this in order to preserve the bell.)

USS Arizona memorial bell on the campus of University of Arizona in Tucson.

They also have a room full of artifacts like the original bottles that were used to christen the ship and a lot of other interesting items and photographs that tell the story of the people who served on board the Arizona.

USS Arizona football sweater University of Arizona in Tucson.

In the middle of the University of Arizona Mall, there’s a brick outline of the ship (made to scale).

USS Arizona memorial on the campus of University of Arizona in Tucson.

How to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park

USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is located at: 1616 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85007. This is right next-door to the Arizona State Capitol.

There is free two hour parking located right next to the memorial on either side of the park (2-98 S 16th Ave Parking and 1-99 N 16th Ave Parking) so it is very convenient to drive yourself to the memorial to pay a visit.

Note: The arrows in the parking lot are a little bit confusing because they are basically backwards compared to the normal driving directions but just be careful getting in and out and you’ll be fine.

USS Arizona signal mast plaque Bolin Memorial Park

Sites at the USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park

The USS Arizona signal mast

The middle of the plaza is home to the upper 26 foot of the signal mast from the USS Arizona, which was dedicated and donated to the state of Arizona on December 7, 1990.

According to AZlibrary, the mast is located 1,177 feet away from the dome of the Capitol building which is symbolic for the 1,177 sailors and marines who perished on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. An American flag proudly waves on top of the mast today.

USS Arizona signal mast Bolin Memorial Park

The gun barrels

Dedicated in 2013, this memorial is known as the “Guns to Salute the Fallen” and it honors the service members of Pearl Harbor and all World War II veterans. 

There’s a 14 inch gun barrel that belonged to the USS Arizona and a 16 inch gun barrel that belonged to the USS Missouri. These two gun barrels are located 405 inches apart and each inch represents 1,000 American lives lost in World War II.

Bolin Memorial Park gun barrels USS Arizona USS Missouri

The USS Arizona 14 inch gun barrel, which is 55 feet (17 m) long and weighs 70 tons, was not taken from the wreckage. Instead, it was one of the gun barrels on rotation and so that is why it is in such good condition.

It was previously on the Arizona but at the time of the attack it was located at the Dahlgren Naval Support Facility in northern Virginia.

However, the gun barrel did return to service when it was placed on the USS Nevada (BB-36) during World War II. It would be used to bombard the shores of Iwo Jima and Okinawa before making its way to Tokyo Bay.

Bolin Memorial Park gun barrel USS Arizona

If you’re not familiar, the USS Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and it’s well known for its “surrender deck” which was the site where the Empire of Japan surrendered, officially ending World War II.

Bolin Memorial Park gun barrel USS Missouri

Having both of these gun barrels on display near each other is perfect in many ways.

First, it was the bombing at Pearl Harbor of ships like the USS Arizona that launched the US into World War II and it was on the USS Missouri that the Empire of Japan finally surrendered in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.

Second, the USS Missouri is located in Pearl Harbor and its guns overlook the remains of the USS Arizona, symbolically protecting over the ship. Just like in Hawaii, these gun barrels remain side-by-side.

USS Missouri looking over USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor

Blue steel pillars 

In-between the gun barrels you’ll notice nine blue steel pillars that bow out similar to the shape of a ship’s hull. These are meant to signify the nine minutes that it took the USS Arizona to sink after getting hit by bombs.

Bolin Memorial Park World War II memorial

On these you’ll find hanging stainless steel nameplates for each of the 1,902 Arizonans who were killed in WWII. On a sunny day when the wind is blowing, they appear similar to waves in the ocean.

Bolin Memorial Park World War II names

The USS Arizona anchor

You also can find one of the anchors for the USS Arizona on display. This 16,000-pound (7,300 kg) anchor is painted blue and it sits at the end of plaza, near a water fountain structure with a massive chain draped over it. It’s the oldest of the USS Arizona memorials at the plaza — dedicated on December 7, 1976.

Bolin Memorial Park USS Arizona anchor

Surrounding the base of the anchor, you’ll find all of the names of those who lost their life on the USS Arizona.

Bolin Memorial Park USS Arizona anchor

The anchor is located just behind a fountain that I imagine would look pretty beautiful when running but we caught it when it was completely dry.

Bolin Memorial Park USS Arizona anchor

Something interesting is that from the center flag pole (east of the anchor) to the first marker for BB-39 it is 608 feet and that represents the length of the USS Arizona from bow to stern.

And from the center flag pole to the second marker for BB-63, it is 887 feet and 3 inches representing the length of the USS Missouri from bow to stern.

Bolin Memorial Park USS Arizona anchor fountain

Another anchor is currently on display at Pearl Harbor and you can see it whenever you visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii. I believe there was also a third anchor but I’m not sure about its current whereabouts or if it even was salvaged.

Related: Pearl Harbor Ultimate Guide (Itinerary & Ticket Prices)

USS Arizona anchor at Pearl Harbor

Other memorials

Bolin Memorial Park has several other memorials on site for you to explore and pay tribute to and these include:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
  • Arizona Pioneer Women Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Purple Heart Memorial
  • Ernest McFarland Memorial Arch
  • American Merchant Seaman Memorial
  • The 10 Commandments Memorial
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Memorial
  • Armenian Martyrs Memorial
  • Navajo Code Talkers Memorial
  • K9 Police Service Dog Memorial Park

We got to check out a few of these but we also made the mistake of visiting in the middle of the day on a summer day where temperatures were hitting about 113°F.

With no shade, it got uncomfortable pretty quick out there and so I would love to come back when temperatures are better so that I can check out all of the memorials without thinking about how sunburned my neck is getting.

Ernest McFarland Memorial Arch

The Arizona Capitol Museum

If you have the time you should definitely go check out the USS Arizona exhibit at the Arizona Capitol Museum.

They have an exhibit displaying artifacts from the USS Arizona including a US flag that was on the ship when it’s sank, a large 500-pound piece from the ship’s superstructure, and 59 pieces of the ship’s silver service donated to the Navy in 1919.

Final word

The USS Arizona Memorial at Bolin Memorial Park is a well done memorial and worth the visit.

Try to time your visit when temperatures are cool so that you can comfortably visit all the different sites, as you’ll probably end up spending much more time there than you originally anticipated.

Phoenix USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River Guide [2022]

The state of Arizona has done a good job of building memorials to honor the legacy of the USS Arizona.

One of these is located in Scottsdale and it is the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River. It’s a beautiful site worth checking out, especially around sunrise or during twilight.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to prepare for your visit and make the most of it.

What is the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River in Phoenix?

The USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River is an outdoor display that comes to life at night while paying respect to those who were on board the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attacks when over 1,000 people lost their life. It’s one of several USS Arizona memorials found in the state of Arizona.

Related: USS Arizona Memorial at Phoenix Bolin Memorial Park Guide

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens night
USS Arizona Memorial Gardens.

Where is the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens?

The address for the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River is: 7455 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258.

It is located right by the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park and the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

You can park at a large parking lot right next to the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens entrance (the Salt River Fields home plate lot) which offers free parking.

There is no admission fee and it is open from dawn to dusk. The website states the hours are 7 AM to 7 PM but we visited (along with several others) after 8 PM without any problems.

Visiting the Phoenix USS Arizona Memorial Gardens

I’d recommend you begin your visit by going straight to the main structure located in the middle of the garden, near the water.

As you wander through this memorial, notice some of the features like the ground pavers, raised planters, and the gathering circle, which come from the Salt River Indian Community’s influence on the project.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens
USS Arizona Memorial Gardens

Just outside the main structure, you’ll find interpretive panels giving you an overview of the attack and salvage operations.

The salvage efforts, which would end up taking a few years to complete, included over 5,000 dives and removal of huge 14″ guns, .50 caliber machine guns, and as much ammunition that they could possibly save.

Sometimes the salvage efforts got risky. For example, during the diver retrieval efforts, the divers faced underwater explosions due to trapped oxygen and oil fumes.

Related: The Oil Leak at The USS Arizona Memorial: A Moving Yet Controversial Site

The main structure houses a USS Arizona relic in a clear, temperature controlled case.

During open hours, you can enter the structure to get a close view of the relic. But even if the structure is not open you can still see it from the outside clearly, even in the dark.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens Boat House

The relic is known as the “boathouse relic” and it’s a pretty large structure about 12ft x 5ft x 7ft.

Back in 2018, it was given to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and its American Legion Post 114 and a garden was built around it. (The full gardens opened up in February 2020.)

This relic is a significant and historic structure because it served as the original temporary memorial at the site in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where the USS Arizona was sunk.

The planks you see inside were used for a visitor staging area but after about a decade the temporary memorial was found to be too unstable.

Eventually, the Navy committed to creating a permanent memorial and The Pacific War Memorial Commission was created in 1949.

After plans were slightly derailed due to the Korean War, the permanent memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis and was formally dedicated on May 30, 1962 (Memorial Day).

If you make it inside, it looks like there are some additional exhibits to check out like a detailed blueprint of the USS Arizona.

Related: USS Arizona Memorial Review (Pearl Harbor, Hawaii)

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens Boat House

Just outside of the relic room there is a beautiful row of suspended stacked blocks with each block containing the name and rank of a person aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.

Panels give a timeline of the first 85 minutes of the attack and tell stories of the survivors.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens blocks of Names
USS Arizona Memorial Gardens blocks of Names

After you check out the main structure, you’ll want to explore the columns.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens

There are over 1,500 columns and they outline the perimeter of the USS Arizona with the exact length and width measurements.

It’s kind of difficult to fully appreciate from the ground level but if you had an aerial view of it you would be able to clearly make out the outline of the ship. It’s actually pretty impressive.

(The idea is very similar to the profile of the USS Arizona found at the University of Arizona’s memorial in Tucson.)

During your visit, I’d recommend strolling through the walkways in the evening when they columns are all lit up. It’s a very peaceful experience and perfect opportunity to reflect on those who were lost that day.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens lights

You can also take a seat on a bench to relax and further contemplate the sacrifices made by so many sailors and marines.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens

Walking through the light columns brought me back to visiting the USS Oklahoma Memorial which has a similar look and feel of “manning the rails” although without the special lighting.

You’ll notice that some of the columns are shorter than the others and those shorter columns represent the survivors of the USS Arizona attack. In total, 1,177 are lit up each glowing light is meant to memorialize the individual’s internal light.

I appreciated that they paid tribute to both the fallen and the survivors since I could only imagine how traumatic living through something like that would’ve been.

On one end of the memorial you’ll see the shape of the bow (you’ll need to cross the street in order to get there).

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens lights

The other side of the memorial is partially in a reflection pool and has several bench areas where you can sit and relax and admire the beautiful site.

USS Arizona Memorial Gardens bench

It’s a very well done memorial but my one complaint is that at night the lights from the ballpark do detract from the experience a bit.

Some of the columns may not be lit and I think those have just gone out and they do not serve any symbolic importance from what I can tell.

If you would like to help support the memorial and keep the structure lit consider offering a donation of $250 to become an Illumination Partner.

Final word

The is a well done memorial and worth visiting. I would try to time my visit to around sunset to make sure that you can view the beautifully lit columns at night. You might also consider donating if you are really inspired by the mission of the memorial.

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