Probably the most isolated state capital in the United States and one of two that you cannot drive to (Hawaii). It is also one of the most frequented cities on Alaska cruise itineraries. Besides being isolated and the states capital it also has a lot to offer.
Where You Dock
Docking facilities stretch from the waterfront right at the foot of the historic district for a mile southeast along the Gastineau channel. If you are lucky and your ship docks near town you are only steps from shops and restaurants. There is however no cruise terminal or public facilities readily available at the dock. Restrooms are available at the public library just a block from the Red Dog Saloon along with a number of stores and restaurants. There is also a shuttle service provided from the docks down the channel but it is not free (currently about $2 each way).
Besides the official dock shuttle there are taxis available at reasonable rates. To get to Mendenhall Glacier we would recommend the public bus service that departs from near the cruise ship docks. Current round trip fare toMendenhall NPS Visitor Center is $30 per person. Outside of the historic district Juneau is actually a very large city in geographic size. If you really want to see the wider area there are also rental car agencies near town.
The U.S. Dollar and most credit cards are welcome
Wander the streets of Juneau’s historic district, shop, visit the infamous Red Dog Saloon where Wyatt Earp lost his guns in a poker game. Within just a few square miles, browse multiple museums and an arts centers celebrating Alaska’s Native heritage. See multiple totems, the Ancon Mural, visit the fascinating DIPAC Macaulay Salmon Hatchery and be sure and go out to Mendenhall Glacier. Stop by one of Travel Juneau’s visitor information sites for a Downtown Walking Tour Map and be your own guide!
Take a cable car up to a mountain top high above the city or take a helicopter up to the Juneau ice field and walk on a glacier. Go salmon fishing or whale watching. There’s more to do than will fit in a day.
People love statues from high art like Michelangelo’s David to ancient wonders like the Sphinx in Egypt that measures 66 feet standing above the desert floor. Or Christ the Redeemer in Rio standing high above the city at 2,453 feet above sea level. It seems if you are looking to really get noticed go BIG. That was actually the original idea for Mount Rushmore, intending it to be a tourist attraction.
It seems to have become a success. Tourism is South Dakota’s second-largest industry, and Mount Rushmore is the state’s top tourist attraction with over 2 million people visiting the park each year.
We visited these monuments at the beginning of our trip across Yellowstone and the parks of Utah and while these were not on our “must do” list we are glad we took the time to visit. Mt. Rushmore is an impressive sight, the museum is informative and the hiking trails range through some beautiful terrain.
If you take the time to visit Mt. Rushmore take a few extra hours to visit Crazy Horse. It is an inspiration to see what people can aspire to create.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is centered around a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota by sculptor Gutzon Borglum. It was carved from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son Lincoln Borglum and chief carver of the mountain Luigi del Bianco. The sculptures feature the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The park covers 1,278 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level. The National Park Service took Mount Rushmore under its jurisdiction in 1933.
Crazy Horse Monument
Not far from Mount Rushmore work is progressing on what will eventually be the worlds largest sculpture. The Crazy Horse Monument, referred to as The Eighth Wonder of the World in progress. It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing into the distance toward the lands of his ancestors. The memorial was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, to be sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski (who also worked on Rushmore). It is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization. The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still being worked by the Ziolkowski family. It is far from completion.
A model of the sculpture with the mountain in the background.
Discovering Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
Over the past few decades when visiting the Florida Keys we would drive past a dirt road with a locked chain link fence on Windley Key in the upper Keys. A number of years ago the gate, while still locked, displayed a new sign that read “Windley Key Fossil Reef”. Today it is open to the public as a state park. On our recent Keys drive we stopped in and spent a couple of hours visiting the Visitors Center and hiking the park.
If you’re planning a trip to the Florida Keys this often overlooked park is really worthy of a visit. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park provides an interesting exposure of a geological formation known as the Key Largo Limestone. This is a limestone rock fossil quarry; and the material is known locally as “keystone”. The entire quarry is comprised of a Pleistocene fossil reef, estimated between 100-125,000 years old. A majority of the keys are formed on this fossil reef system. The ocean levels rose and fell multiple times after the last Ice Age, and stabilized over the last 5,000 years. The top 25 feet of the old coral reef became exposed, died and laid the foundation to form Windley Key Fossil Reef .
Want to go exploring for fossils? Oddly one place to look is your nearest mall or new hotel or office building. On the floor of many of these places is polished limestone made mostly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the minerals calcite or aragonite, that contain an abundance of fossils or fossil traces. The fossils under your feet may be macroscopic or microscopic. The macroscopic fossils often include crinoid stems, brachiopods, gastropods, and the remains of other hard shelled mollusk. In Florida the main form are the remains of these ancient coral reefs.
So next time you’re in Florida, visit a coral reef without even getting wet.
Red Rock Inn Located in Springdale, Utah at the southern entrance to Zion National Park
I’m guilty of just neglecting to get back and write about this and there is no excuse since this is the most delightful B&B Inn we have stayed in over the last five years.
Because the town of Springdale sits in a narrow canyon as you leave Zion National Park there really is only Zion Park Blvd. for a couple of miles thru town. This is partly a blessing as every where you look are the stunning red rock walls towering above you. Unfortunately this also creates major traffic tie-ups as cars enter and exit the park down this two-lane street (TRAFFIC INFORMATION HERE). In season afternoon traffic trying to enter the park virtually comes to a standstill.
On our visit we had driven into Zion thru the northeast entrance and after a day in the park we exited at the south end and stayed at the Red Rock Inn. From there we just walked around the town which is very convenient from the inn. The town is nice to stroll through with great shops, cafes and restaurants. After that the Zion NPS shuttle is the easiest way to get back to the park and explore the southern trails with no wasted time trying to find a parking space. The Inn is located only about a mile from the park entrance if you are inclined to hike.
The Red Rock Inn sits in a beautiful setting with tastefully decorated, spotless rooms. The Inn is operated by Trevor and Sharon and you couldn’t ask for more attentive hosts who can offer great tips on what to see in the park or where to eat nearby. Your stay also includes a great full breakfast at Oscars Cafe only a short walk up the boulevard.
998 Zion Park Blvd.
Springdale, Ut 84767
If you are looking for a getaway weekend or are planning a grand tour of the Utah parks you really can’t do any better than a stay at The Red Rock Inn.
This quant town is one of the more popular destinations for travelers to Vietnam with its nearness to the city of Da Nang and some new beach resort properties nearby. Hoi An was recognized as a World Heritage Site in December 1999 because of its architecture and history as an ancient trading port.
The town is famous for its hand-made craft shops featuring lanterns, Vietnamese embroidery “paintings” and incredible clothing values.
To get a feel for this town take a moment and view our YouTube slideshow below.
Roatan is the largest of the Honduran Bay Islands in the Caribbean and is becoming a popular cruise itinerary destination. Like many Caribbean destinations it is recognized for its beautiful beaches, water sports, including premier scuba and skin diving, and modern resorts. To accommodate the cruise ships the Honduras government helped develop Mahogany Bay with docks, duty free village and a beautiful beach area.
Where You Dock
Most Cruise ships now dock at the Mahogany Bay facility on the southwest coast. The beautifully laid out area includes piers, a duty free shopping area and a beach area. In addition there is also the Port of Roatan located a bit farther west past Barrio La Loma and some cruise ships may still dock there. It is about five miles between the two port facilities.
The best way to get around Roatan is by hired taxi or a rental car. Taxi’s are inexpensive and you can usually negotiate an island tour at a fair price.
The local currency is the Honduras Lempira with one being worth about US 5¢. US Dollars are usually welcome and most major credit cards accepted.
Outdoor recreation is the focus on this Caribbean island with sandy beaches and clear, warm water being the main attraction. There are several zip line facilities on the island and a dolphin encounter at Anthony’s Key Resort that’s very popular.
If your ship docks at Mahogany Bay you can spend the day right at the ports beautiful beach, that includes water sports equipment, beach loungers and umbrellas along with some excursions leaving right from this cruise port.
A little over a mile and a half from the Mahogany Bay is the town of Barrio Loma Linda. It is not a resort area but a typical Honduran town with stores and restaurants along with a couple of crafts facilities working in leather and wood.