Our favorite time in Juneau is the summer. Long days, lots of whales, bonfires on the beach, it doesn’t get much better than that. But Juneau in the winter is an underrated gem, as well. There’s plenty to do. And as long as you have the right gear, you’ll be good to go.
Here are some things to do in Juneau in the winter.
There are plenty of places to go ice skating. For the faint at heart, you can go to the indoor rink at Treadwell Arena. They offer open skates during the winter, as well as special times for family skates. The Juneau Douglas Ice Association also offers hockey for kids. There’s plenty of small lakes around Juneau that are good for outdoor skating. Just make sure that you wait until the ice is frozen through enough, and always be cautious of skating where the ice is too thin.
Skiing at Eaglecrest
Eaglecrest is the ski resort owned by the City and Borough of Juneau. It’s open five days a week. They recently acquired several more snow guns, so even when it’s not snowing much you can still get out on the mountain. They offer skiing and snowboarding lessons, and have several lifts with varying levels of difficulty for all skiers.
Cross Country skiing
If you have your own gear, you can always go cross country skiing to save yourself a bit of money instead of buying an Eaglecrest lift pass. There’s numerous trails and backcountry paths to go skiing on. Make sure you bring a friend, and take proper avalanche emergency gear if you’re going to an area where avalanches might occur.
Walking across Mendenhall Lake
One of the best ways to see the glacier up close during the winter is walking across the lake. What’s normally a several mile hike around the lake during the summer turns into a short mile-long walk across the frozen water to get up close and personal with Juneau’s shining icon. The glacier looks beautiful covered with snow. And Nugget Falls looks beautiful when it’s half frozen!
Winter beach day
When you say you’re having a beach day, rocks and snow isn’t normally what comes to mind. But there’s beauty at the beach even in the winter. Sometimes you can even spot frozen jellyfish washed up from the tide, which is an interesting sight. Just dress warm because it can get pretty windy down along the water.
True Alaskans swear by winter camping. There’s something so natural about waking up to fresh snow. And most of the federal and state cabins can be rented out during the winter. Make sure to bring fuel or wood depending on the type of stove in your cabin of choice.
Surfing at the Shrine of St. Therese
Winter has some of the best waves for the serious surfers of Alaska. A wetsuit is necessary for this activity.
All in all, you can do most summer activities during the winter, you just need to be prepared. Make sure if you do any hikes in the winter you bring along a flashlight or head lamp, as it can get dark very early in Alaska in the winter. And as usual always bring enough water and snacks for any of your winter activities.