Self Guided Mendenhall Lake Paddle
Here is one of the best Alaskan wilderness experiences, and it's only 20 minutes away from downtown Juneau. This self-guided Mendenhall Lake kayak package is great if you want the gratification of being out there on your own. Participants who are physically fit and have previously paddled canoes or kayaks will enjoy this fully customizable, self-guided route by double kayak.
The shuttle van picks you up from downtown Juneau and transports you 30 minutes to the kayak shop in Auke Bay Harbor. The staff will outfit you with gear, along with a safety briefing and instructional demo on how to handle the kayak. From here, it is a short 10-minute drive to the launch site on the west side of Mendenhall Lake. Along the way you will have spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Tongass National Forest.
After boarding your double kayak, you will set out following the route specified on the laminated map that's included. You will have approximately three hours for paddling past icebergs, arctic tern nesting cliffs, and giant waterfalls in route to the terminus of the glacier. Take a break on one of the sandy beaches or atop a rocky outcrop to enjoy your included lite snack. You will be given the necessary gear and information to guide yourself and create your own adventure. At the appointed time, you will be returned to downtown Juneau.
Please note: This is a very popular self-guided rental package, so reserve this trip early as there are limited permits per day for this route. This tour is for experienced paddlers only. Please see restrictions for more details.
Stunning scenery, serenity, no crowds. An absolutely awesome day. One of the highlights of our trip. A truly unique experience.
Reviewer: Bill and Zony
We really enjoyed the kayaking experience on this very beautiful glacial lake. The outfitters made us very comfortable and confident. It was a great kayaking experience!
My friend and I did this double-kayaking excursion, and it was incredible. It was one of the coolest things we have ever done! We are both experienced lake kayakers, and we thought a self-guided tour would be ideal. We could go at our own pace -- stopping for pictures, or paddling hard to make it around the lake. We went on an overcast/drizzly day and were both a little surprised at how cold it got on the lake despite the layers we were wearing and the exertion we were putting out. Most of the time we were out on the lake, we had it completely to ourselves. We only passed a couple of other kayakers and canoes. It was incredible to be paddling among HUGE icebergs (several stories tall), but also a little frightening when we found out they could roll or break apart. The idea of falling into the water was scary, as the water is 34 degrees and a passerby informed us we would have ""5 minutes"" if we fell in. Unfortunately, we were so far out in the lake or away from people, that I don't know how we would have signaled/called for help if that would have happened. They do give you a safety briefing and tell you how to get back into the kayak and pump water out, but I'm not sure we would have then made it to help soon enough to avoid hypothermia at that point... This extra element of potential danger did make it more exciting though, I have to say. We enjoyed seeing waterfalls, getting close to the glacier (though we didn't see any calving) and paddling around icebergs. Over by the visitor center the water is very calm and we got some amazing pictures of the icebergs reflecting in the water. It was like an iceberg graveyard -- absolutely breath-taking! No animals other than some birds were seen, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the adventurous kayaker.