Frequently Asked Questions

Above & Beyond Alaska specializes in small group, active adventures. We offer trips to experience glaciers, bears, and whales. If you have questions before your trip please don’t hesitate to reach out via phone, online chat, or email.

General Questions:

Why join an Above & Beyond Alaska Trip?

Above & Beyond Alaska (ABAK) was founded by individuals deeply rooted in Southeast Alaska, where they have spent a lifetime exploring and protecting its wilderness. We have been organizing small group adventures in the Juneau area for over two decades. Our commitment is unwavering — we strive to exceed expectations across the board. This includes a steadfast focus on safety, a dedication to providing exceptional service, a commitment to maintaining the highest quality standards, and a proactive stance in fulfilling our role as stewards of the environment.

In 2022, we partnered with the Alaska Carbon Reduction Fund (ACRF) to help meet our sustainability goals and became the first tourism company to participate and raise funds for heat pumps to be installed in low-income family homes in Juneau.

Our overarching goal at ABAK is threefold: to explore, educate, and promote environmental conservation right here in our own backyard. We firmly believe that the combination of exploration and education naturally leads to conservation. This belief is at the core of our mission. We take immense pride in engaging in what we love, and equally, in sharing with others the wonders of this beautiful world full of adventure.

Will this tour work with my ship?

A helpful guideline is that if your tour pickup is set for 30 minutes after your ship docks, that should provide ample time to reach our meeting point.

Additionally, you must return to your ship at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure at the conclusion of your tour.

What if our ship is delayed or our port call in Juneau is canceled?

If your ship is delayed, we’ll make every effort to adjust your trip departure time or reschedule it accordingly. In the event that your ship is significantly delayed, preventing you from participating in the trip, we will provide a full refund. Similarly, if your ship is unable to make its scheduled stop in Juneau, you will receive a full refund.

Will you get us back to our ship on time?

The majority of our trips are scheduled around cruise ship arrival and departure times. We allocate ample time before and after the tour to ensure you can comfortably make it back onboard your ship. Ensuring the punctual return of our guests to their ship is our top priority as a company.

What is the weather like in Juneau?

“Plan for rain, pray for sun!” is our motto in Southeast Alaska. We are surrounded by the Tongass National Rainforest, part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world.  Juneau receives approximately 60-100 inches annually.  Average temperatures in the summer are in the 50s and 60s.  April, May, and June are Juneau’s driest months.  July and  August are the warmest.  In September it becomes cooler and wetter.  Please see the following links for current weather forecasts.

Where can I go to the bathroom during your trip?

On our day trips we recommend you use the restroom before the trip starts. Our warehouse facility has two restrooms for your use. Once you are out in the field, there are no restrooms besides the great outdoors. ABAK follows Leave No Trace Principles and if you need to use the bathroom during this time we request that you pack out any trash – this includes toilet paper.

What is your cancellation policy?

Cancellations made at least 7 days prior to a scheduled tour will be refunded in full.

Cancellations made 4-6 days prior to a scheduled tour will be charged a 50% cancellation fee.

Cancellations made within 3 days of a scheduled tour are non-refundable.

Above & Beyond Alaska (ABAK) may cancel a trip due to low enrollment, unsafe weather or route conditions, clients not meeting physical requirements, or other safety issues. A full refund will be issued if the trip has not started. However, ABAK is not responsible for additional expenses (e.g., non-refundable airfare, meals, lodging). ABAK will fully refund any tour cancellations due to changes in the cruise ship sailings that result in the tour not being rescheduled.

Medical Cancellations:

For cancellations due to a medical reason, valid documentation from either a care provider or the cruise ship’s doctor is required to be eligible for a refund.

If a family or party member is ill on the day of the tour, medical documentation must be provided for a refund. Any passengers who stay behind with the ill person will not be eligible for a refund.

Documentation must be provided within two weeks of tour cancellation to receive a full refund, otherwise the tour becomes ineligible for a refund.

Other Cancellations:

Failure to comply with any cruise ship regulations or provide required documentation, resulting in you being denied boarding and not being able to cruise or take your tour, will not be refunded.

If you are traveling through Canada or any other country and are denied entry due to missing or delayed travel documents or visas, causing you to miss your tour, you will not be refunded.

If you are traveling by air and miss your flight, you will not be refunded unless it was the fault of the airline and you can provide documentation from them.

Additional Information:

All cancellations must be submitted in writing within two weeks of the tour date to ABAK.

Partial refunds will not include booking fees.

The Fortress of the Bears Pack Creek Bear Tour includes a non-refundable $60 National Forest Service permit fee.

ABAK highly recommends travel insurance for all clients to protect against unexpected travel changes.

Will tours be canceled if it is raining?

We operate our tours rain or shine. Juneau is situated in the world’s largest temperate rainforest, the Tongass National Forest. Rain is a common occurrence in Juneau, and we embrace it as part of the experience. To ensure your comfort, we provide each guest with a rain jacket, rain pants, and rain boots.

Should ABAK determine that weather conditions present a safety concern, we will regretfully cancel the tour. In such instances, a full refund will be issued to our guests. Safety remains our top priority, and we appreciate your understanding in this regard.

What do I need to bring?

We provide all the gear on our trips except for personal clothing and hiking boots.  Regarding the weather, we recommend you prepare for rain and hope for sunshine. Due to the cool, damp climate, it is best NOT to wear cotton or denim and instead, wear clothing made of polyester, wool, fleece, nylon, polypropylene, and/or capilene. You are more than welcome to bring personal items on any of our tours (Camera, reusable water bottle, food, layers, etc.).


  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Trip Specific Gear (see below)
  • Glacier Trips:  backpack or dry bag backpack, trekking poles, micro spikes for Norris Glacier
  • Kayak Trips:  kayaks, PFD (life jacket), spray skirt, paddle, rubber boots, paddling mitts, and safety gear.
  • Bear Viewing:  binoculars and spotting scope, rubber boots, rain gear

Water: While we do provide a souvenir water bottle on our trips, we strongly encourage all guests to bring their own reusable water bottle to help minimize waste.

Food (The food provided is subject to change and varies day to day – below is the typical offering)

  • Glacier Trips:  granola bars, assorted cheeses, assorted nut packs, fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers, and a souvenir water bottle
  • Paddle with Whales! includes a similar, hearty snack pack and bento lunch.
  • Fortress of the Bears Pack Creek:  a bento lunch with a variety of snacks, and water (varies by client allergies, dietary restrictions, and/or requests)
  • Fortress of the Bears Waterfall Creek: assorted snack packs carried by the guide
What sizes do you have for gear?

For all tours we provide rain gear to protect from the changing elements. This gear can be used or stowed in your backpack or dry bag.

  • Rain Gear is waterproof and will go over your personal gear. It is sized more like a poncho than a standard jacket. So if you wear Women’s Medium mostly, a Women’s Medium Jacket and Pants will easily fit over your clothes.
  • Rain Gear Sizes: Men and Women’s XS – XXL, Youth S-L

For the tours involving paddling, we provide neoprene rubber boots made by Bogs or Grundens. These boots will be in place of your shoes and you are welcome to store your personal shoes at our warehouse facility.

  • Rubber boots sizes: Men’s 6 – 14, Women’s 6-11, Youth 2-5
How many people are in a group?

Our tour group sizes range from 2 – 12 people with 1 guide for every 8 people on group departures. So if you book a tour that has the maximum number of 12 people, then you will have 2 professional guides with you all day.

Are there any restrictions to do your trips?

For Glacier Trips:

  • 250 lbs is our weight max on the Canoe Paddle & Trek due to canoe weight restrictions
  • Smallest shoe size we can accommodate is Youth-Size 2 and Largest shoe size is Men’s size 14
  • Due to the inherent risks involved in this type of tour, pregnant guests are not permitted to participate.

For Kayak Trips:

  • 250 lbs is our weight max on the Fortress of the Bears Pack Creek and Waterfall Creek tours due to aircraft and kayak restrictions
  • Smallest shoe size we can accommodate is Youth-Size 2 and Largest shoe size is Men’s size 14
  • Our kayaks can accommodate a maximum torso (waist-chest) diameter of 55 inches (140cm). Maximum weight limit is 600lbs (272kg) for double kayaks. People taller than 6’2″ (188cm) may find operating the rudder challenging, as the pedals only adjust to a certain maximum distance.
  • Due to the inherent risks involved in this type of tour, pregnant guests are not permitted to participate.
I'm traveling solo, can I join an ABAK trip?

Solo travelers are welcome to join on any trip.  However, most of our trips require a minimum of four people, so if there is not a scheduled departure with other clients available then you would either have to find a different trip or pay for the minimum.

Where are your van pick up locations?

Downtown Juneau Pick Up Locations

The “C” Sign, located near the cruise ship docks directly between Mt. Roberts Tramway and the green Taku Smokeries building, is our centralized downtown meeting location for all clients in the downtown area, including the majority of cruise ship passengers. 

Because the AJ Dock is about a 20 minute walk from the “C” Sign, clients off cruise ships docking at the AJ Dock with 30 minutes or less between their ship’s arrival time and ABAK’s trip departure time will be picked up directly from the AJ Dock

Mendenhall Valley Pick Up Locations

Clients staying at major hotels in the Mendenhall Valley may be picked up directly from their hotel. ABAK cannot pick up at private residences, Air BnB’s or accommodations located in residential areas.

Clients with their own transportation

Please contact ABAK for a meeting location.

Will I see wildlife on the trips?

For our wildlife trips such as Paddle with Whales and Fortress with the Bears, it is possible to see humpback whales, Dahl’s and harbor porpoises, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, black or brown bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, bald eagles, marbled murrelets and great blue herons are many of the animals and birds seen on our kayak adventures.

On our glacier trips, we typically do not see wildlife due to the fact that this area is a new-growth forest that does not support larger animals and because portions of the trail are used frequently. Occasionally, we see porcupines, beavers, and mountain goats.  Due to the nature of wild animals we cannot guarantee sightings on our trips.

What is your minimum age requirement?

Our minimum age requirement varies by trip type and whether is a regular trip or a private trip.

  • Mendenhall Glacier Guided Hike – 10 years old
  • Private Mendenhall Glacier Guide Hike – 8 years old
  • Glacier Canoe Paddle & Hike – 12 years old (same for the private tour)
  • Fly-In Norris Glacier Hike and Packraft – 12 years old (Private 8 years old)
  • Fortress of the Bears Pack Creek – 12 years old (Private 8 years old)
  • Fortress of the Bears Waterfall Creek – 12 years old (Private 8 years old)
  • Paddle with Whales Kayak Adventure – 8 years old (Private 7 years old)
  • Auke Bay Sea Kayak Tour – 8 years old (Private 7 years old)

We do not have a maximum age requirement.  The only requirement is that all clients are physically fit and capable of completing the trips.  Please see the trip descriptions or contact our office for more information. We are always happy to help determine what trip is right for you.

What can I do to physically prepare for your hiking trips?

Cardiovascular training is a must.  Our Mendenhall Glacier Guided Hike is a strenuous excursion. You will be hiking approximately 9 miles roundtrip for 7+ hours on uneven terrain. Cardiovascular training will increase your endurance making for a more pleasant experience on the trail. In addition, get yourself out on a hike and choose trails that are uneven. This is a different trip than the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Hike which replaces hiking with paddling and is less strenuous and is recommended for all guests who are unsure about the physical requirement of the hiking portion.

Does the temperature change closer to the glacier?

Juneau temperatures during the summer are typically between 55 and 70 degrees with an average of 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).  The temperature near the glacier’s edge is about 5 degrees cooler, but can feel up to 15 degrees cooler due to katabatic winds (cold downslope winds coming down the glacier).  Please bring layers of clothing including a warm hat and gloves.

Since we are booking independently, will you get us back to our ship on time?

The majority of our trips are catered to cruise ship travelers and the time frame you have in port. We always get clients back to their ship on time and no one has ever missed their ship.  Our top priorities as a company are safety and returning clients back to their ship on time.

Glacier Questions:

Will I have a chance to walk on the ice?

Norris Glacier: Yes, this tour absolutely gets on the glacier! If you’re eager to experience walking on glacier ice, then this tour is perfect for you.

Mendenhall Glacier: This tour does not get on the glacier. This excursion focuses on a close exploration of the glacier’s edges, allowing for safe hiking experiences on the surrounding bedrock. Distance from the glacier changes each season, expect to get within 300 yards of the glacier face.

Are there ice caves at the glacier?

Norris Glacier: While we can trek on the glacier ice on this tour, it’s important to note that ice caves are an exceptionally rare phenomenon that appears sporadically. They should not be expected during the tour, and if they do happen to form, it will be considered a special occurrence.

Mendenhall Glacier: There are currently no accessible ice caves at the Mendenhall Glacier. Glaciers are incredibly dynamic forces of nature and are constantly changing. The presence of accessible ice caves was a feature of the glacier in the last phase of its life cycle, but it is now in a new phase where we are seeing frequent calving events revealing the deep glacier blue that the Mendenhall Ice Caves became so well renowned for.

What will we be paddling?

Norris Glacier: You will be paddling small single or double packrafts. These packrafts are very maneuverable and durable.

Mendenhall Glacier: You will be paddling either our large 29 ft or 22 ft canoes . The larger canoes can fit up to 12 guests and 2 guides, and the smaller up to 7 guests and 1 guide. These canoes offer the speed and stability that kayaks cannot.

Are there physical requirements?

Yes, these are considered active tours. We require guests to be at a maximum of 250lbs and have a full range of mobility. Depending on the tour, guests will have to safely get in and out of packrafts/canoes and be able to hike and paddle for up to 3 hours. Guests may need to drag canoes or packrafts short distances and be physically fit to get in and out of watercraft, along with paddle watercraft continuously.

Bear Questions:

Are we guaranteed to see brown bears?

Brown bears are wild animals, and as such, we cannot guarantee sightings of them. However, our bear-viewing locations boast the highest density of brown bears in the world, offering you an excellent chance to observe them in their natural habitat.

What is the best time of year to view bears?

Brown bears are most active during mating season (mid May – June) and annual salmon runs (late July – August). Prime viewing is considered to be during the salmon run (late July-August).

What is the best time of day to view bears?

We have found that time of day does not influence how good viewing will be.

What is the difference between Pack Creek and Waterfall Creek?

Pack Creek is a heavily protected brown bear sanctuary on Admiralty Island. Due to strict permitting, we have very limited availability through the summer to take guests. Additionally, Pack Creek has the presence of Forest Service rangers stationed seasonally.  It offers great bear viewing May-September.

Waterfall Creek, situated on Chichagof Island, is managed by Alaska State Parks. This location offers incredible bear viewing opportunities, particularly during the peak salmon run from late July to early September. Due to the salmon run’s influence on bear activity, we exclusively offer this trip only during this timeframe. At Waterfall Creek, you can enjoy remarkable up-close views of bears fishing for salmon.

Are we safe around the bears?

Our guides are highly experienced and knowledgeable about brown bears and their behavior. As a precautionary measure, they always carry bear spray during tours. While it’s crucial to acknowledge that these are wild animals, the bears we encounter are accustomed to human presence, and instances of aggression toward humans are exceptionally rare.

Are there physical requirements?

Yes, we require all guests to be 250 lbs or less. In addition, we require guests to have a full range of mobility getting in/ out of the floatplane and the ability to walk 2 miles over slippery uneven terrain.

Whale Questions:

Are we guaranteed to see whales?

Humpback whales are wild animals, and as such, we cannot guarantee sightings of them. However, the Juneau area is renowned as a fertile feeding ground for whales and other marine life, increasing the likelihood of encountering these magnificent creatures during our tours.

How long are we kayaking?

Kayaking duration depends on a variety of factors, including marine conditions and the ability level of the group. We aim for 1.5 hours of paddling time.

What is the best time of day to view whales?

We have found that the time of day does not influence whale viewing.

What is the best time of year to view whales?

Juneau is widely regarded as one of the premier whale watching destinations in Alaska. The humpback whales of the Pacific migrate to these waters after wintering in Hawai’i. They are drawn to the nutrient-rich waters around Juneau, which serve as their feeding grounds. The optimal time for whale viewing is during the peak summer months of June to August. Nevertheless, May and September also offer excellent opportunities for whale watching. In late July, you begin to see Bubble Net Feeding, when 10-12 whales jump out of the water at once.

Are there physical requirements?

Yes. We require the ability to get in/out of the kayak, paddle for up to 2 hours, and are fully mobile.

Our kayaks can accommodate a maximum torso (waist-chest) diameter of  52 inches (132cm). Maximum weight limits including gear are 300lbs (660kg) for single kayaks and 600lbs (1320kg) for double kayaks. People taller than 6’2″ (198cm) have a hard time operating the rudder because the pedals only adjust to a certain maximum distance. However, people as tall as 6’6″ have been able to paddle in our kayaks.

Talk to an Expert

Please contact us if you need trip planning assistance. We are always excited to help plan the ultimate wilderness experience!