Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
The Juneau Ranger District of Tongass National Forest surrounds Alaska’s capitol city, including Stephens Passage. Stephens Passage runs between Admiralty Island National Monument and the mainland.
We took a tour with Gastineau Guides that began with an easy hike to Mendenhall Glacier. Next, we rode over to a marina where we boarded a small whale-watching boat.
Our captain said we were heading to Juneau Channel Islands State Marine Park. This park contains 14 uninhabited islands and is home to humpback whales, sea lions and other wildlife.
The humpbacks migrate to Southeast Alaska in the summer months. They fatten up on the abundant krill and herring. The sea lions and eagles follow the whales, picking off the fish pushed to the surface by the humpbacks.
Once we got to that day’s hot spot, we found ourselves surrounded by about a dozen whales. The captain was sure to keep the required distance. All around we could hear the whooshing from the whale’s spouts as they surfaced. It was a challenge to know which way to look, but it was an enjoyable outing for sure.
Designation: National Forest
Date designated/established: September 10, 1907
Date of my visit: June 2, 2022