- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Go to Mendenhall Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska
The Mendenhall Glacier is a 12-mile-long glacier in the Mendenhall Valley, located only 12 miles from downtown Juneau in Southeast Alaska. Federally protected as part of the Mendenhall Galcier Recreation Area, a unit of the Tongass National Forest, the glacier originally had two names, Sitaantaagu ("Glacier Behind the Town") and Aak'wtaaksit ("Glacier Behind the Little Lake").
The Ice Caves are inside the glacier, accessible only to those willing to kayak to, and then ice climb over the glacier.
However rising global temperatures have caused the glacier to start melting—it has receded by about two miles since 1958. Water has carved caves into the interior, creating surreal, turquoise-toned worlds whose shapes are ever changing.
A trip to the Mendenhall ice caves requires an arduous journey—it involves a kayak ride or long hike, an ice climb, and faith that the melting caverns won't collapse in on you—but the incredible landscapes are a once-in-a-lifetime sight.