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How to Elope at Mendenhall Glacier: Ultimate Elopement Guide

hands holding with Nugget Falls in the Background
Mendenhall Lake with glacier

If you are looking for a moody vibe and astounding views of waterfalls, lakes, and 360-degree mountains, and somewhere that is not on America’s mainland but a fun and easy adventure experience, then Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, is the one for you!

Table of Contents:

woman and man hugged and smiled at each other

Learn about Mendenhall Glacier

Where is Mendenhall Glacier?

It is in Juneau, Alaska, 13 miles northwest of downtown Juneau and a few miles from the Juneau International Airport. It’s part of Tongass National Forest and is the only glacier in the area that’s accessible by highway all year.

How do we get to Mendenhall Glacier?

Cruises and planes are the only way to access Juneau, Alaska. (Very cool and unique, right?) There is no direct access to the outside world. You can fly into Juneau International Airport or ride the Alaska cruise.

When is Mendenhall Glacier open?

During the summer months (May–September), the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Sunday through Saturday. During the winter months (October–April), it is open from 10 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. 

Is there a fee to visit Mendenhall Glacier?

You will just need to pay 5 dollars for the admission fee from May to September.

Hands holding with Nugget Falls in the background

FAQ’s About Eloping in Mendenhall Glacier

Can you get married at Mendenhall Glacier?

YES, you can! It is super easy to get married there.

Which is a better way to get to Mendenhall Glacier?

If you choose to ride on a cruise, then there will be limited time to go and hop around the different places. Cruises have boarding time and you would want to give yourself room to get off or get on with other people. It is about a 20-minute drive from the Juneau Cruise Ship Terminal Area to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. If you come from a plane, then you might have more relaxing and spreading time, like chilling at Airbnb and eating lunch or having coffee and breakfast in the morning before getting ready and heading to the Mendenhall Glacier—more breaks during the day.

Do you need a permit to get married at Mendenhall Glacier?

No, you don’t need a permit to get married there.

How much does it cost to elope at Mendenhall Glacier?

Only 5 dollars. You will need to pay $5 per person for an admission fee and that’s it. Seriously.

What do the hiking conditions look like at Mendenhall Glacier?

There are 5 different trails to hike on. The trail’s difficulty is somewhere between easy and challenging, so it depends on your preference. The most popular trail is Nugget Falls and it is where you can see the waterfall and get a close-up view of the glacier. (Difficulty: moderate, paved, and gravel trail)

What kind of weather should I expect?

Rainy, windy, sunny, cold, and warm. It can get unpredictable; it can be sunny in the morning, and in the afternoon it can be rainy. Come prepared!

Five Best Elopement Locations in Mendenhall Glacier

1. Nugget Fall

Nugget Falls is the most popular spot to elope and it is the highest waterfall in Tongass National Forest. The glacier is right next to the waterfall. It will be a breathtaking scenic view for the photos! Two-mile roundtrips (approximately 1 hour) Difficulty: Moderate, paved, and gravel.

Nugget Falls and Mendenhall Lake

2. Photo Point Trail

It is the second-best view spot where you can see the glacier much more and the waterfall will be in sight too. One-third-mile round trip (approximately 15 minutes) Difficulty: Easy and paved

Couple walk with the Mendenhall Glacier view

3. East Glacier Trail

This trail is on the east side of Mendenhall Lake, and you will go up above the Nugget Falls and have a higher view of Mendenhall Lake, where the Nugget Falls water went in. Three and half-mile round trip (approximately 2.5 hours) Difficulty: Challenging, gravel, rocks, and stairs

Mendenhall Glacier Mountain view

4. Skater’s Cabin

This is a picnic site, and it is on the shore of the southwest corner of Mendenhall Lake, almost 10 minutes’ drive from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. This area has a breathtaking view of both Nugget Falls and Glacier. This is perfect for you who want a whole view of “the best.” Difficulty: Easy

5. West Glacier Trail

This trail begins at end of Skater’s Cabin Road and ends at the junction of the Mountain McGinnis Route. It is on the west side of Mendenhall Glacier. 6.3-mile round trip (approximately 3 hours and 19 minutes) Difficulty: moderate, trail, rocks, and mud.

Tongass National Forest's view

Five Best Airbnbs Nearby for Your Elopement

1. Cozy A-Frame Cabin | Juneau, AK

Cost:  $315/night + taxes/fees

Guests: 4

Beds: 2

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 1

2. Mountain View Retreat | Juneau, AK

Cost:  $245/night + taxes/fees

Guests: 4

Beds: 2

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 1

3. Vacation Home in the Heart of Juneau | Juneau, AK

Cost:  $319/night + taxes/fees

Guests: 8

Beds: 5

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2

4. Mountain N’ Shore Chalet | Juneau, AK

Cost:  $439/night + taxes/fees

Guests: 8

Beds: 6

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 2

5. Tongass Treehouse – Orcaview Cabin | Juneau, AK

Cost:  $749/night + taxes/fees

Guests: 6

Beds: 3

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 1.5

Best Time of Year for a Mendenhall Glacier Elopement

I highly recommend going to there between May and September. The days will be longer and sunny. Plus, these months are the whale migration season, meaning you’re guaranteed to see some more whale activity in the water.

If you want to elope there & have the warmest weather: you should elope in June, July, and August. Be prepared for lots of other visitors, though you may want to try and find locations that are a little less popular.

If you want to elope there with fewer crowds: during the summer months (May–September), you should elope in earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon at the opening time. The more people come during the middle of the day due to the cruise boarding time. During the winter months, there are far fewer crowds but Alaska is blanketed under thick layers of snow and frigid temperatures, so you will need to come very warmly prepared.

Real Mendenhall Glacier Alaska Elopement Inspiration

No matter what time of year you choose to elope there, make sure to keep an eye on current weather as well as the National Forest’s conditions (details + information) when you get close to your elopement! You should always have at least one backup location/plan in place in case your original plan falls through due to unexpected weather, road conditions, etc.

P.S. don’t be discouraged if it rains on your elopement day!! I know you probably want to see the sun and get clear skies – but let’s be honest, the PNW isn’t very reliable for that. If it’s cloudy, or rains on your elopement day, the best thing you can do is go with the flow and adapt! Check out Olivia & Jacob’s Mendenhall Glacier Elopement to see just how beautiful your day can still be even if the weather isn’t ideal. And be patient, too – sometimes Alaska will peek out of the clouds even if it’s not a sunny day!

the couple spinning and have fun

Alaska Elopement Photographer

Hi!! I’m Payton! I’m an Alaska elopement photographer who is OBSESSED with the mountains, waterfalls, and forest in Alaska. I also help couples plan their dream day at epic locations. I offer Alaska elopement packages for every couple’s special day and would love to explore these epic locations with you two! Let’s get you two married – contact me here and I will reach out to you within 24-48 hours. Can’t wait!

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