Exploring Tracy Arm Fjord in Juneau (Review of True Alaskan Tours)

Last Updated on February 7, 2024

Tracy Arm Fjord is without question one of the most beautiful places in Alaska and one of the most incredible Alaska glacier experiences available. 27 mile long Tracy Arm Fjord takes you past towering mountains, steep waterfalls, giant impossibly blue icebergs and ends at the two Sawyer Glaciers at the head of the fjord.

If you’re up for spending the whole day on the water (which is incredible and you really should) and going to a place that is special to locals and not often seen by visitors, then the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer operated by True Alaskan Tours is an incredible experience while visiting Juneau.

I went on this tour in June 2023 and wanted to share more about who this wonderful tour is best for and what to expect during the day.

A blue and white glacier at the head of Tracy Arm Fjord. There are mountains around the glacier and many small icebergs in the water. It's a sunny day with some clouds
South Sawyer Glacier is one of the two glaciers at the head of Tracy Arm Fjord.

Who is the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer Tour best for?

This tour is ideal for people who are traveling to Juneau on their own (not on a cruise ship) for whom seeing glaciers is a high priority along with epic Alaska landscapes. It’s also ideal for those who are willing to dedicate an entire day to go to a place not many visitors get to, since it does take a couple hours to get there from Juneau. It’s a wonderful boat trip as long as you enjoy looking at views and relaxing.

If you are on a cruise ship, it’s possible your ship offers an excursion to Tracy Arm where you meet the ship again in Juneau. If you’re interested in this, you’ll need to book it through your cruise ship (because you’ll be joining the trip while the ship is at sea) and book early as there’s limited space. Small ship cruises often go to Tracy Arm but large ships cannot get into this narrow fjord.

A large bright blue iceberg in Tracy Arm Fjord with mountains and some snow in the background.
Impressive icebergs are a common sight as you get further into Tracy Arm Fjord

I do not recommend this tour for young children, due to it being a long day on board a boat. Young children are allowed on the tour, but True Alaskan Tours does not recommend it.

Accessibility and Mobility

The boat that will take you to Tracy Arm is wheelchair accessible for manual wheelchairs, though many motorized scooter style wheelchairs may not have the minimum clearance to get through the doorways. If you’re uncertain about this, call them and check in with them.

Several people in jackets on the upper deck of a tour boat docked in Juneau
The upper deck on True Alaskan Tours boats are big and open, the lower deck also has an outdoor deck as well as a warm and dry cabin with comfortable chairs, big windows, snacks, drinks and restrooms.

What to expect on the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer

This is a wonderful tour and I absolutely loved every minute. It’s important to be prepared for a seven hour day on the water without wifi or cell service. We started the day in the rain and it got less rainy but remained cloudy during the two hours we were on the way to Tracy Arm.

Once we were in the fjord the sun started to come out, which was absolutely wonderful especially when we got the icebergs and glaciers.

We spent about an hour near the two glaciers at the head of the fjord and also stopped to get close to a waterfall and a couple big icebergs.

After heading out again, it was about two hours to get back to Juneau.

A waterfall comes down a rock wall in a forest of evergreen trees into the ocean below
A waterfall in Tracy Arm

How long is the trip to Tracy Arm?

The total tour time is about 7 hours. It’s about two hours each way from the dock in Juneau to the entrance of Tracy Arm Fjord. The rest of the time is spent in Tracy Arm and at South and North Sawyer Glaciers.

A photo from the back of a tour boat on the way back to Juneau from Tracy Arm. You can see the wake of the boat on calm water and mountains on both sides on a partly cloudy day
It turned into a beautiful day after morning rain on the return trip to Juneau

Will I get seasick?

It is very unlikely. The waters around Juneau are protected from the open ocean and there is no swell. Calm weather prevails in the summer, so you are not likely to experience a lot of motion.

That said, if you’re prone to seasickness, or concerned about it, using something preventative an hour or so before the tour starts is a good option.

Will I see whales?

It’s extremely likely that you’ll see humpback whales on this tour between Tracy Arm and Juneau. During the summer months, the waters around Juneau have many whales and you’ll be out on the water for several hours. Though not specifically billed as a whale watching tour, because the priority is to get to the head of Tracy Arm at the Sawyer Glaciers, it is still extremely likely that you’ll see them!

When I did the tour, we saw three humpback whales on the return trip, but it could happen going either direction.

What other wildlife will I see?

In addition to whales, you also have an excellent chance of seeing seals (including on the icebergs in Tracy Arm), sea lions, eagles and other birds.

Is there food on board?

Yes! Lunch is provided with your tour along with hot drinks. You can also purchase alcoholic beverages and snacks in the gallery.

Is there wifi or cell service?

No, there is no wifi on board and no cell service once you are outside of Juneau. Make sure to put your phone in airplane mode to conserve the battery for the million photos and videos you’re going to take (and bring along your back up phone charger).

Are there restrooms on board the boat?

Yes, there are plenty of marine heads on board (like airplane restrooms).

Weather in Juneau and on the way to Tracy Arm

The weather in Southeast Alaska changes often and is very unpredictable. It’s also windy on the deck of a boat, even if it’s not a windy day. Colder air comes down from glaciers also making it colder near them.

Weather in Juneau may be different than in Tracy Arm, or different at different times of day. The day I did this tour, it was raining and overcast in Juneau and later the sun came out (though it was still chilly). Typically summer days in the area are usually in the 50s or 60s and it is often cloudy or rainy, but when the sun comes out it’s intense.

A person wearing a gray hooded fleece and smiling in front of a glacier and mountains. The water is milky from glacier silt.
Me at North Sawyer Glacier, which we went to after spending some time at South Sawyer Glacier. The sun was out but it was still quite chilly!

What to wear and bring for the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer

It is critical to bring (no matter what the weather and forecast): a rain jacket with a hood (not an umbrella), comfortable clothes, sunglasses and a warm layer including a warm hat. All my advice for packing for Alaska is here and includes some specific products I bring with me and that I wore for the Tracy Arm Fjord Glacier Explorer tour.

A person wearing sunglasses and a red rain jacket with a blue glacier in the background as well as mountains with lingering snow and icebergs in the water below the glacier.
Happy to see the sun at South Sawyer Glacier

Cost and Booking

The cost for this trip varies based on the day of the week you are going. In June 2023 the cost was $180-$250 for adults (depending on the day of the week) and $130-$210 for children ages 3-12. True Alaskan Tours does not recommend this tour for young children, however children 2 and under can come and are free (though they need a ticket). I would not recommend this tour for any children younger than 5, since it’s many hours on a boat.

Final Thoughts

If you are visiting Juneau on your own (not on a cruise ship) and you want to see a place that most visitors don’t get to go to then this is an ideal tour for you. If your priority in Alaska is seeing glaciers and epic landscapes, this tour is perfect.

Jennie Flaming on InstagramJennie Flaming on LinkedinJennie Flaming on PinterestJennie Flaming on Youtube
Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite. I lived in Alaska for many years and I still spend lots of time there every year visiting friends and working as a tour director. I've been a guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington, am a field editor for the Milepost and host the Alaska Uncovered Podcast about Alaska Travel as well as the Washington State Hiking Podcast. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you here!