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Overview

Draped across a steep hillside at the mouth of Gold Creek, Alaska's capital city evokes comparisons to the much larger San Francisco. Juneau's setting is dramatic, with snowy mountains behind town and a mix of old and new buildings lining the main streets. The city is primarily a summer destination, when hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers flood downtown, but winter brings an entirely different world. Juneau's winters are notoriously rainy and stormy, with infrequent snowstorms blanketing the town in deep snow. Surrounding the city are rugged mountains and icefields where the snow piles up all winter. Over on Douglas Island, ...

Draped across a steep hillside at the mouth of Gold Creek, Alaska's capital city evokes comparisons to the much larger San Francisco. Juneau's setting is dramatic, with snowy mountains behind town and a mix of old and new buildings lining the main streets. The city is primarily a summer destination, when hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers flood downtown, but winter brings an entirely different world. Juneau's winters are notoriously rainy and stormy, with infrequent snowstorms blanketing the town in deep snow. Surrounding the city are rugged mountains and icefields where the snow piles up all winter. Over on Douglas Island, Eaglecrest Ski Area is high enough to get good snow (average snowfall is 29 feet!), and it's just a dozen miles from downtown Juneau. Groomed cross-country ski trails are nearby, with more near Mendenhall Glacier. The lake in front of this glacier is a popular ice-skating place, or try the indoor version at the ice rink in Douglas. Heli-skiing and -boarding are also available. Juneau has a number of fine restaurants, year-round cultural activities, museums, and other attractions, including the popular Alaska Folk Festival in April. Access is by air or sea, including via the adventurous Alaska state ferries.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The best snow and sunlight are in February and March.