The iconic Mount Roberts Tram is one of the main attractions in Juneau. It’s quite visible from ships as they cruise into town. Holland America ships dock right below it. The lower tram station sits at the center of the main gathering area for tourists booking last minute excursions in the heart of town. Bright red trams traveling up and down the mountain dominate the view. Tickets are available at the tram station or on board the cruise ships where passengers can purchase their tickets in advance and go directly to the tram line, avoiding the line to buy tickets. Every time I’ve compared the ship’s price to the cost of buying the tickets direct they’ve always been the same price. Thousands of people take the tram up the mountain each summer. What do they find when they get to the top?
The ride up or down provides excellent views and the trams have windows all around to take advantage of the sites. The bright red tram cars have their names painted boldly on the outside. One is called Eagle and the other Raven. These are the two major groups (called moieties) of the Tlingit tribe, who run the tram. In this matriarchal society, children are born into their mother’s clan. Marriages are made with people in the other group.
Cruise ships at the dock are quite visible on the ride up so long as the area is not shrouded in fog. The tram docks at the upper station in a windowed building with excellent views of the ships and town below in clear weather. A wide hallway leads into the main area of the upper floor of the 2-story building.
On that floor visitors find a gift shop, a restaurant, a door to the outside, and a stairway to the lower level. The lower floor has restrooms and a theater. The theater hosts shows by the Alaska String Band and a film about Tlingit history and culture.
Venture outside of the main building and it’s just a short walk to the tiny wildlife center which houses one flightless eagle. Named Lady Baltimore, she’s a resident there for life since the injury that left her flightless means she can’t be released into the wild.
Just past the eagle there’s a small visitor’s center building.
The outer deck area to the visitor’s center has a couple displays where visitors can stand in a replica of an eagle’s nest or spread out their arms to see how they compare to the wingspan of the birds pictured there.
Inside there’s a small gift shop and theater.
Outside of the buildings there are entrances to trails. One trail makes a short loop with some nice views along the way. It rains a lot in Juneau so the trails are likely to be wet or muddy.
This is a good trail for people with some time to spend there, but not a lot. Also great for anyone not wishing to risk getting lost on a longer trail or taking too much time and missing their ship. It’s an easy trail for anyone without walking or balance issues.
One trail leads to 6th street in town for those who would rather hike 3 miles up or down the mountain than take a ride on the scenic tram. It continues on 6 more miles from the tram station to the top of the mountain. From the tram station this hike can take 4-6 hours and may pass through patches of snow. I’ve never gone that far, but another site recommended using a GPS to be sure of finding the right way back. It would also be a good idea to buy a map.
Mount Roberts Tram makes a good short excursion to do before or after whatever else you’re doing in Juneau if you stay near the tram station. It could also be an all day outing for those who want to hike the long trail all the way to the mountaintop.