Our favorite part of Juneau, Alaska was Tongass National Forest.

An Overdose of Wildlife & Nature in Juneau, Alaska

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Juneau, Alaska is often the first stop on an Alaskan cruise. You won't believe the gorgeous scenery that awaits you.

A few years ago, my travel companions and I cruised with Princess Cruise Lines on an Inside Passage itinerary and visited stunning Juneau, Alaska.

Thinking that a photography tour would be a great way to learn from the pros and combine sightseeing with photography (one of my favorite hobbies), my daughter, Peyton, and I chose a photography tour by land and sea with Gastineau Guiding company.

The group traveled by bus to the Tongass National Forest to start our tour. Do not be fooled into thinking Alaska is always cold because, in June, as our weather was upwards of 70 degrees.

We hiked through the forest with no barriers for protection from wildlife and happened upon a black bear right away. At the time, Peyton was 13 years old. She immediately approached the bear for a photo-op.

From the split second after seeing the bear, I was frozen with the instinct to protect my child or to let her get the photograph she was perfectly prepared for. I know, dilemma, right?

We all watched in silence with all movements frozen as the bear walked to the water, stared at his own reflection a bit, then waded through the water on his way. Our group breathed a sigh of relief and continued the tour with bear pictures from our to-do list checked off.

We cruised on the Sea Princess to Juneau, Alaska.
We saw this bear looking at his reflection in the Tongass National Forest of Juneau, Alaska.
We saw this bear looking at his reflection in the Tongass National Forest of Juneau, Alaska.

Whale Watching

The second part of our tour was aboard a medium-sized boat, where we received photography pointers from the tour guides throughout the drive. Another boat radioed us that they had come across a mama humpback whale. She and her baby breached in and out of the water every couple of minutes.

Our group captured this amazing sight for well over an hour, at which time six more boats joined us. The whales aimed to please us as far as entertainment goes and they were enjoying our eyes were fixed on them.

I was never fond of whales, yet at that moment I grew to love the gracefulness and beauty of these magical creatures. We also saw sea lions playing on the buoys and a few other whales on the return trip.

Picture of the classic whale tail in Juneau, Alaska.
We loved whale watching in the icy waters of Juneau, Alaska.
We loved whale watching in the icy waters of Juneau, Alaska.

Incredible Glaciers

The most beautiful thing about Juneau was Mendenhall’s breathtaking glaciers around the Visitor Center. Until now, I had only seen photos, which really do no justice to the depths of frozen ice and prisms of colored lights reflecting from, through, and off of the sparkling icebergs. I was spellbound.

The eerie quietness of the surroundings and cool moist feeling you get from just being in the presence of something so cold, old, and special was just riveting. From this one location, I probably took 200 pictures, each and every shot being extraordinary in some way.  

We cruised on the Sea Princess to Juneau, Alaska and visited the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier.
The glaciers in Juneau, Alaska were mind-blowing!

The Red Dog Saloon Experience

After getting back to our cruise port in Juneau, Peyton and I went for a late lunch at the Red Dog Saloon. The Red Dog Saloon is an Alaskan tradition; a bar that is cluttered full of interesting memorabilia, huge crowds, and plenty of fun.

Peyton and I grabbed the last two seats upstairs and within minutes of ordering our food, the entertainment started. The Red Dog Saloon is a riot! The piano player and singer who did “Those Were the Days, My Friend” left a lifetime memory for the two of us.

To this day, we still request that song on every cruise we go on. Red Dog Saloon is purely for tourists, but you cannot help but have a great time. Bonus, the food was better than average.

Note: Please realize that all tours do not get lucky to see whales daily. It is stated on the tickets and in the contract with touring companies so do not just expect it to happen.

Melody Pittman hanging at the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska.
inside-passage-red-dog-saloon
Images from the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau.

Juneau, Our Favorite Alaska Cruise Port

With all of the wildlife sightings and incredibly beautiful scenery, Juneau was by far our favorite Alaska cruise port. This place could make an outdoor lover out of anyone!

Come see what all the hype is about by taking a family-friendly Alaska cruise like we did.

Juneau Photo Gallery

We cruised on the Sea Princess to Juneau, Alaska and visited Mendenhall Glacier.
We saw glacial ice in Tongass National Forest, Juneau, Alaska.
The glaciers in Juneau, Alaska were mind-blowing!
Gastineau Tours did a fine job of introducing us to the scenery of Juneau, Alaska.
We checked off a bucket list item with a visit to Juneau, Alaska.
Juneau, Alaska has so many cool things to see and do.

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We cruised on the Sea Princess to Juneau, Alaska for the Inside Passage.

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