The North Stars

Apr 21, 2003
Outside Magazine

The avian snatch-and-grab

[Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve]
The swirling confluence of three rivers—the Tsirku, Chilkat, and Klehini—near Haines causes an upwelling of warmer water from 1,500 feet underground, preventing a two-mile stretch of the Tsirku River from freezing. The phenomenon encourages a late run of silver and chum salmon, an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet for thousands of eagles in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Eagles seem to hang off every cottonwood limb, and you can watch them catching fish and fighting over the scraps.
DETAILS: A full-day guided tour in the preserve plus bed-and-breakfast lodging costs $165 per person. (Alaska Nature Tours, 907-766-2876,

[Mendenhall Glacier]
It would take an ice cube more than 200 years to make the 13-mile journey from Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake riding the Mendenhall Glacier, but it will take you only about 25 minutes to drive from Juneau to see it. This glacier is Alaska's best for family visits because of its accessibility: Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, in Tongass National Forest, is 12 miles from Juneau. Stop in for a quick lesson about glaciers and geologic time. Then lose the crowds by hiking 3.5 miles on the East Glacier Trail loop past 180-foot Nugget Falls for bird's-eye views of the glacier. Strap on your crampons— experienced trekkers can make footprints atop the giant slab of blue via an unmarked trail. Ask the ranger at the visitor center for details.
DETAILS: Hiking and general information are available at the visitor center (Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, 907-789-0097,

Filed To: Nature, Alaska