One of the fun and exciting things we got to do while in Juneau, Alaska was doing the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure tour. We were there in July of 2020 and it was so peaceful as there weren’t many tourists yet due to the stupid China virus. But it was so amazing and we were able to see it in its true beauty. Before I share our tour, I want to share a little about Garden Rainforest Adventure.
This 6.5-acre botanical garden is located in the lush Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska. It is known for its vibrant hanging gardens which spill from 15-foot-tall upside-down tree “Flower Towers” and elegantly designed landscapes. They are really cool to see in person. The gardens were created by Steve and Cindy Bowhay who purchased the property for a stream rehabilitation project in 1994. Two miles of trails and beautiful botanical gardens were personally designed and installed which consist mainly of a spruce and birch forest. Today visitors can now tour these two miles on a guided tour in a covered vehicle, then travel through 50 acres of temperate rainforest.
I was really looking forward to this tour, especially seeing the upside-down tree, or Flower Towers. Throughout the garden, there are many of these upside-down trees that have their tops buried in the ground and their roots thrust up in the air, forming a basket that cradles colorful trailing flowers. Netting and mosses form a bed in the center of the root ball, where begonias, fuchsias, and petunias bloom brilliantly bright and delicately hang down from the overturned tree. They are absolutely beautiful looking in the pictures I had seen. I could hardly wait to see them in person.
We made the drive from the Airbnb we were staying at and found ample parking (again it was slow due to not many tourists). After we made our way into the Visitor’s Center and paid for our tickets, we looked through their gift shop while we waited for our tour to begin. We actually just missed one, so we grabbed some lunch and enjoyed the gardens while we waited. It was not a hardship, lol.
Finally, it was time for our tour and we loaded the little golf cart-like vehicle to begin our tour. We saw some AMAZING scenery as we traveled along the path. Our tour guide was great and explained a lot about the habitat and the different trees or flowers we saw as we passed. She even stopped or slowed down a few times for us to take pictures, etc. I can’t remember many of them, but I do remember one called the prickly Devil’s Club because of the name. Of course, we also saw many of the upside-down trees to my delight. It was intriguing how each one was similar but could also be so different. We also saw several huge spruce trees. Sadly some of them had been knocked over by the wind, rain, or both.
One other thing I wanted to mention was that we did make a longer stop and got out of the vehicle at the top of Thunder Mountain. It is at the 600-foot mark of the mountain which usually has phenomenal views of Juneau, Mendenhall Valley, Gastineau Channel, Douglas Island, and the Chilkat Mountains. The day we were there unfortunately was cloudy and overcast, thus we weren’t able to see much of the valley at all. Hopefully, on another trip, we can do the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure tour again and enjoy the views from up there. I am sure they are spectacular.
That was the highlight of the tour, but we did walk around the area a little bit more before we left. They have a small little garden area available for walking after the tour. It was nice, but we headed out to see Mendenhall Glacier again before it got too dark. That was another thing we really enjoyed seeing while in the area. Anyway, here is a link to their website if you want to visit this beautiful attraction while in the Juneau, Alaska area.
Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure Visitor Information
7600 Glacier Highway- Tours Location
Daily 9 am – 6 pm May 1st– October 1st.
Tour prices are $28.30 after tax for adults and $16.75 after tax for children ages 6-12. Children aged 5 and under are free.
Click this link to book a tour, or for more information about tours and times. Or you can also call them at the number above.
Things to Know Before You Go:
As a heads up, we were not on a cruise, and this attraction is about seven miles from where the cruise ships dock. They do have a bus stop nearby, but if you are short on time, I would suggest utilizing a Lyft or Uber rideshare.
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