Your adventure begins at the cruise ship terminal, where you are picked up and brought to the West Glacier Trailhead in the Mendenhall Valley. Hiking to the glacier begins with 4-miles through towering Sitka Spruce and Hemlock in the largest temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass National Rain Forest. The trail becomes less defined as you follow your guide through dense brush, beaver ponds, and up rocks scrambles. The trail is strenuous with about 800-feet in vertical elevation gain, and requires you to be sure-footed while crossing slippery stones and rock. It is all worth it when you climb the final ridge, and the jagged face of the glacier bursts into view with its river of ice coursing behind it.
Upon arriving at the glacier, your guide will locate the safest access point to the ice. Glaciers are constantly changing, with features that disappear and reappear over the course of the season. After strapping on your micro-spikes, your guide will take you on a tour of the glacier’s accessible features which may include exploring the other-worldliness of an ice cave, descending into crevasses carved by melt water, or peering into the deep blue well of a moulin.