The Mendenhall Ice Caves in Juneau, Alaska, are surreal, gorgeous, and endangered

The Surreal Turquoise Landscape of an Alaskan Ice Cave

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 11 2013 10:36 AM

Cool World: Inside the Magnificent, Melting Mendenhall Ice Caves

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Mendenhall Glacier, a 12-mile-long mass of ice in Juneau, Alaska, is a popular tourist attraction. Few visitors, however, see the the glacier from its most spectacular vantage point: inside it.

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.

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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.

Ice to see you:


View Mendenhall Glacier in a larger map