“A Little Bit of Everything”
History…Flightseeing…Fresh BBQ Salmon…Black Bears…Glaciers…River Landings…Education…Culture…Hiking…Beer…Wine…Another Beer…
When describing the experience of the Taku Lodge Excursion, one can get overwhelmed with where to begin. Our goal is to provide you with a glimpse of the tour through our eyes, based on our personal experience. And we must say, we have experienced the Taku Lodge Excursion more than any other. There are some darn good reasons for this!
The first great thing about this tour is the location of departure, downtown Juneau on the Gastineau Channel. We love to arrive early, have a beer (this is a common theme with us) at the Flight Deck Restaurant, a great little outdoor restaurant on the water that serves a great selection of Alaskan beers. The owner, Mike, will take good care of you. The views of the channel and the mountains of Douglas Island are the best in town! From here you can also watch the floatplanes (the very ones you are about to board) land and take off, excellent entertainment!
As you check in, Holly, Samantha & the wonderful crew of Wings Airways will greet you with enthusiasm, and divide you into groups, then it is time to board your floatplane! As you walk down the ramp to the planes, your excitement and anticipation builds for the adventure that is to come.
An important feature of the tour is that everyone on the plane has a window seat. This is crucial for taking photos! You also don’t have to worry about which side of the plane to sit on, you will keep the same seat for the flight out and the flight back, and will see all there is to see.
The 30 minute flight to the Taku Lodge is absolutely breathtaking! Everyone has headphones to listen to the educational narration provided for you. Learn about the history of Juneau, the geological forces that shaped our area, local industry and recreation, and of course the glaciers that you will fly over. The star of the flight is the Taku Glacier, the largest glacier in the Juneau Icefield. As you fly right over the top of it, look down into the stunning bright blue crevasses and moulins, the scope and size of this glacier will blow you away. You will also get great views of the Norris, Hole-in-the-Wall, East & West Twin Glaciers.
Landing on the swift Taku River is a blast! The Taku River is a crucial salmon spawning habitat, and a very popular recreational area for locals as well. Up river there are moose, wolves, wolverines, black bears and brown bears.
As you de-board the plane, the historic Taku Lodge comes into view. We always head right for the lodge, go inside and grab a beer or glass of wine, and put our coats/bags at the table by the big window that looks out over the grill. If the bears clean off the grill while you are eating, you have a front row seat! Then head back outside and sit in the Adirondack Chairs in the front yard, with a view of the Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier. You have some time to explore the property on your own, so take your time and enjoy the beauty and serenity of this historic place.
As the Grill Chef is grilling the salmon, keep an eye out for the local black bears that can’t resist the aromas of the salmon being cooked. They can pop out of nowhere so keep your eyes peeled! Take the trail through the woods to a small waterfall, pick fresh blueberries and salmonberries, and tour some of the old buildings on property. The gift shop is also worth checking out.
Once they ring the dinner bell, head inside and enjoy the best salmon meal in Juneau. It is simple, homemade and fabulous! And the salmon is always perfectly grilled. It is all you can eat, the staff will bring more salmon out to your table after the first round. If you don’t like salmon, there is a chicken option, but come on, you have to eat this perfect piece of fish! They are also famous for their ginger snap cookies, which are super ginger-y!
While you eat, the entertaining host will regale you with stories of the amazing history of the Lodge, you will learn all about Mary Joyce, who was a total bad-ass. She was a dog trainer, a pilot, owned the lodge, and opened the Lucky Lady Bar, which is still open in downtown Juneau!
You will have about 30 minutes or so after dinner to relax or explore, then you will board your plane back to Juneau. The scenic flight back to Juneau caps off an amazing 3 hours.
~Keli & Kris~