The center was built in 1962, the first visitor center in the National Forest System. The original structure was primarily a large observatory where people could get out of the rain and look at the Mendenhall Glacier. It was designed to accommodate 23,000 people a year. Over the years a few exhibits were added. Thirty-five years after it first opened, the center was hosting over 400,000 people a year. Between 1997 and 1999 the building was renovated and enlarged to include an exhibit gallery and theater.
At a Glance
Winter Hours of Operation: October - April, 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday Closed on Federal Holidays Summer Hours of Operation: May - September 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Sunday through Saturday Open on Federal Holidays
From May through September, admission costs $5 to go into the visitor center to view the exhibits and see audio visual presentations.
Flush Toilet (2)
Directions: From downtown: 12 miles. Take Egan Drive and turn right at Mendenhall Loop Road. Mendenhall Loop Road turns into Glacier Spur Road and ends at the visitor center.
From the Juneau International Airport: 5 miles. Exiting the airport, turn left on Yandukin Drive. Turn right on Shell-Simmons Drive. Turn left onto Glacier Highway. After a quarter mile, the road will curve right and become Mendenhall Loop Road. Follow this road across Egan Drive. Mendenhall Loop Road eventually turns into Glacier Spur Road and ends at the Visitor Center.
From the Alaska State Ferry Terminal: 7 miles. Turn right onto Glacier Highway. After a mile and a half, the road splits at Auke Bay. Turn left onto Mendenhall Loop Road. After four miles, it will intersect Glacier Spur Road. Turn left onto Glacier Spur Road, which ends at the Visitor Center.
Several trails are available in the Visitor Center area including the Photo Point trail, a paved trail about 1/8 mile; Nugget Falls trail, a mile out to Nugget Falls from the Visitor Center; the Trail of Time, a trail that meets accessibility standards and creates a loop starting at the Visitor Center, crossing Steep Creek twice and returning to the Visitor Center; the Steep Creek salmon viewing loop that loops between the two Visitor Center parking lots and takes visitors on elevated walkways over the Steep Creek salmon stream.
The Visitor Center offers information on the geology, ecology, and history associated with the Mendenhall Glacier. Bears provide wildlife viewing opportunities as they feed on fish in Steep Creek near the Visitor Center.