From an Alaskan travel expert: golden tips for solo travel in Juneau

Juneau Alaska, has a safe, walkable downtown and welcoming locals, making it a must-visit destination for solo travelers.

Karen Hosier is a traveler, cruiser, and content writer at Alaska Trippers and Forever Karen. She travels to Alaska every year – a place she connects with and calls her second home.

I instantly connected with Juneau Alaska, the moment I arrived. While it is the capital of Alaska, it has a small-town feel, and vacationing there is all about the outdoors.

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Juneau is an odd choice for the capital, and many might argue Anchorage was the better pick. Surrounded by mountains, I could only reach Alaska’s capital by plane or boat.

If you are a solo traveler and want to immerse yourself in the wilderness, come along as I recount my many adventures in the last frontier!

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Is Juneau Alaska safe for solo travelers?

At Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park | Photo by Alaska Trippers

Juneau contrasts greatly with cities like New York and Los Angeles. It is safer and has a very low crime rate, and I never felt uneasy walking in the city alone at night.

In fact, regarding safety, I need to worry more about wildlife. Between May and early October, it is essential to be aware when heading into the Tongass National Forest.

While black bears aren’t generally a threat to humans, I never wanted to meet a protective mom with her cubs.

Most travelers arrive in Juneau by cruise ship, which docks downtown. Traveling to Alaska in May offers cheaper prices if you’re on a budget.

Cruise lines cater well to single guests by providing solo and single meet and greets. I’ve attended a few and find it’s an excellent way to meet others traveling alone.

By meeting others, I could arrange tours together or make plans to dine with newly made friends. Here are some unique activities to enjoy in Juneau.

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Is Juneau Alaska good for solo travel?

If you are a fan of the outdoors and loves to be active, Juneau is definitely good for solo travel! Here are some of my favorite things to do in Juneau alone:

Dog Sledding

juneau alaska

Dog sledding was never really on my bucket list, but I went. At close to $1,000 USD, it’s not budget-friendly but attracts no shortage of travelers wanting to go.

Temsco, Northstar, and Coastal Helicopters offer tours, but I chose Coastal because its pilots fly year-round.

Guests are weighed and allocated seats to distribute the weight on the craft. Luckily, I received a front-row seat next to the pilot, allowing me to take in the aerial views of Juneau Icefield.

Seeing the turquoise hues and deep crevices in the ice was breathtaking. But all too soon, I was on the glacier, where my dog sled team of energetic huskies were waiting and raring to go.

Even in summer, it can be mighty cold on a glacier. While I experienced freezing rain, you could be blessed with warmer temperatures and sunshine.

I felt the cold even with a waterproof winter coat, hat, and gloves.

During my 3-1/2-hour excursion, I learned that the summer dog sledding camps are a way to exercise dogs who take part in the world-renowned Iditarod race.

The grueling race covers a distance of over 1,000 miles.

Although I found it bitterly cold on the glacier, the dogs enjoyed the colder climate. They chose to lay on the frigid ice rather than take refuge in dry huts.

Considering the high cost of the excursion, I was thankful I wasn’t paying for a family of four. It’s a benefit of traveling solo!

See A Glacier

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At Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center | Photo by Alaska Trippers

Mendenhall Glacier is one of North America’s most accessible glaciers, and I didn’t need an expensive helicopter ride to see it.

Of my four trips to the glacier, I reached the park by shuttle and once by taxi. The journey took 30 minutes.

Sadly, this glacier is retreating rapidly; one day, it will be out of sight behind the mountain. Since I’ve visited this area many times over 15 years, I’ve seen the result of climate change firsthand.

Inside the visitor center, I could see photos of the retreat, read about the animals that call this place home, and discover what plants grow there.

I was surprised to learn there are a few porcupines that reside on the grounds, and I even caught a glimpse of one.

Mendenhall Glacier is one of many options for glacier viewing. Further north, a day trip to Glacier Bay National Park provides views of multiple tidewater and valley glaciers.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a UNESCO World Site, and it’s easy to see why. Even if I tried, I couldn’t capture a bad photo in Glacier Bay.

I found Margerie the most picturesque of all the glaciers in the park. Its turquoise hues need to be seen to be believed.

South of Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord provides another option to see a glacier. Sawyer Glacier sits at the end of the fjord, but the journey to reach it took my breath away.

The narrow fjord had a mystical feel, with low-lying clouds and granite cliffs on either side.

Surrounded by a rainforest and abundant rain, countless waterfalls lined the route. The silence was only broken by the sound of the wake, sea birds, or whales that frequent the area.

This was a tour where I met numerous solo travelers, all fulfilling bucket list dreams. It was fascinating to share stories.

Go Hiking

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The view from Father Brown Cross | Photo by Alaska Trippers

Hiking offers me solitude, and in Juneau, I’ve had many occasions to connect with Mother Nature.

Outside of downtown, Mendenhall Glacier Park provides numerous trails, with the one to Nugget Falls being the most popular.

The path to Nugget Falls is flat, easy to walk, and takes less than one hour roundtrip. While the route got me a little closer to the glacier, I went to see the thundering waterfall, and it didn’t disappoint.

The Steep Creek Trail, another easy route, brought me to the edge of Mendenhall Lake. I was lucky to see house-sized icebergs gracing the cold waters in front of the glacier.

When the salmon run in the fall, you may encounter bears searching for an easy meal.

Mount Roberts provides fantastic aerial views of Juneau and Gastineau Channel on a clear day. Avid hikers might want to tackle the often muddy trail, or you can take the Mount Roberts Tram as I did.

At the peak, there are a few options for hiking. The Alpine Looping Trail provides a short route for inexperienced hikers.

However, I took a longer route to Father Brown Cross, and it was so worth the extra effort.

While I hiked in July, one of the warmest months, I encountered snow and many mosquitoes. I was in a rainforest, after all.

Along the way, I met several other solo travelers enjoying the scenery and hiking.

Enjoy Alaskan Seafood

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Enjoying the Gold Creek Salmon Bake | Photo by Alaska Trippers

No trip to Alaska is complete without tasting its seafood. Head to Tracy’s Crab Shack for crab legs, but be prepared to pay upwards of $100 for King crab.

While they sell different kinds of crab and I tried a few, I thought the King tasted better than the Dungeness. It’s no wonder it’s more expensive.

For salmon lovers, the Gold Creek Salmon Bake provides an authentic outdoor BBQ of salmon and ribs.

From May until October, the venue opens daily and welcomes guests to enjoy an all-you-can-eat meal. Take my advice and arrive hungry.

The coho salmon was fresh and cooked to perfection over an alder fire. I had two choices: plain or with honey butter.

While other diners raved about the honey butter, I stuck with the plain, being lactose-intolerant.

I loaded my plate with pork ribs, rice pilaf, salad, and Chilkoot baked beans along with the salmon. There was chowder and homemade blueberry cake, which I had to bypass due to food allergies.

While guests have the option to purchase Alaskan beer to accompany their meal, I stuck to hot tea since it was cold and raining.

Whale Watching

The boat cruises run from May to September, which is regarded to be the peak season for whales in Alaska.

Whale watching is a top-notch activity when visiting Juneau between May and September. Juneau and Icy Strait Point provide the best tour options, and all guarantee sightings.

Juneau is home to some resident whales; however, the humpbacks migrate from Hawaii and Mexico in the spring and leave in the fall.

The waters around Juneau provide a marine-rich feeding ground for humpbacks, orca, minke, and gray whales.

While I’ve enjoyed several whale-watching tours in Alaska, they differ from excursions in Hawaii and Mexico.

Whales are more playful in warm weather destinations because they are there to mate and give birth.

Whales feed in Alaska, so they spend a great deal of time underwater, gaining weight to sustain them for their winter break. I’ve seen many tails and backs during my tours but only witnessed one breach.

Even after a few whale-watching excursions and eight cruises to Alaska, I’ve yet to see the phenomenon of bubble net feeding.

Whale sightings are still incredible, and one time, I saw two adult humpbacks and a calf swim under my boat. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Have A Duck Fart

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Visiting the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau Alaska | Photo by Alaska Trippers

I have to admit I’m not a drinker, and I only occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a shot of chocolate tequila. However, Juneau offers a unique drink that many can’t pass up due to its name.

The “Duck Fart” is a signature drink sold at the Red Dog Saloon on 278 S Franklin Street. Made of Kahlua, Canadian Whiskey, and Bailey’s Irish Cream, I’m told it tastes terrific.

However, since I’m lactose-intolerant, I couldn’t try it myself. Even as a non-drinker, I found the atmosphere at the Red Dog fun and lively.

Sawdust covers the floor, and the décor a bit quirky with wagon wheel chandeliers, mounted animal heads, and a full-sized bear on display. It’s a great place to enjoy lunch and feel the Alaskan spirit.

Solo travel tips for Juneau Alaska

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A cold morning in Tracy Arm Fjord | Photo by Alaska Trippers

Traveling to Juneau in the summer

When I visited in summer, the days were long. Around the summer solstice, the sun didn’t set until after 10 pm, which gave me more hours to explore.

So, night owl solo travelers rejoice: the last frontier is the place to be.

I remember my first visit to Alaska and was oblivious about what to pack. I assumed I would experience the same climate as further south. Boy, was I wrong?

Juneau is surrounded by rainforests created by rain, lots of it. While I didn’t have enough warm clothes on my first trip, I now wear waterproof shoes, layers, and a waterproof jacket.

Since I live in a wet city, Vessi runners are my shoes of choice.

A car rental isn’t required in Juneau

I could reach desired areas by bus, taxi, and Lyft. The downtown area is walkable, with many choices for shops and restaurants.

You can trust other people to take photos of you

Traveling solo didn’t always mean I needed to use a selfie stick. With many tourists in Juneau, strangers volunteered to take a picture for me.

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I’ve been giving expert and genuine advice to solo travelers and digital nomads for the last 15 years. You choose the destination and I will answer all your questions!

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