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. We can’t wait to be a part of your next adventure!

Why join an Above & Beyond Alaska Trip?

We are a locally owned and operated company that has been guiding tours in Juneau, Alaska for 20 years.  We specialize in high-quality, small-group active tours for those wanting to experience the true spirit of Alaska. All our trips are led by professionally-trained guides who have the passion and skills to make your trip truly memorable.

Our goal is to explore, educate, and promote environmental conservation in our own backyard – Southeast Alaska. ABAK believes that exploration accompanied by education leads to conservation. We take pride in doing what we love and hope to share with others this beautiful world full of adventure.

What is your cancellation policy?

General:

  • 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 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.
Do I need prior experience to go on your guided adventures?

No experience is necessary for our trips and we cater to all abilities.  However, you do need to meet the physical requirements outlined in our trip descriptions on our website and have an appetite for adventure. We reserve the right to cancel any participant before the trip begins who does not meet our physical requirements.

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.

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.
What do I need to bring?

We provide all the gear on our trips except for personal clothing and hiking boots.  In regards to 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.

WE PROVIDE

  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Trip Specific Gear
    • Glacier Trips:  backpack or dry bag backpack, helmet, 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
  • Food and Water (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, gold fish 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 full 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

YOU PROVIDE

TOP LAYERS

  • T-Shirt
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Insulating Layer (i.e. Fleece Jacket)
  • Gloves (fleece liner type)
  • Warm Hat
  • Sunglasses

BOTTOM LAYERS

  • Long Underwear (weather dependent)
  • Hiking Pants
  • Hiking Boots (for glacier trips; preferably high top and waterproof)*

* REI has a good, informative tutorial for hiking boots.  Boots listed under their “Hiking Boots”, “Backpacking Boots”, and “Mountaineering Boots” are all acceptable forms of footwear. Many “Light Hiking Shoes” are not ideal. Lightweight running shoes are strongly discouraged, and Five Fingers shoes are not acceptable.

OPTIONAL ITEMS TO BRING

  • Sun Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Camera
  • Extra Snacks
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Binoculars
  • Reusable Water Bottle (Pre-Filled)
  • Guide Gratuities
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.

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.

Will we get on the glacier during our tour?

The rapid retreat of the Mendenhall Glacier has led to significant alterations in its surface. Consequently, walking on the glacier is no longer safe. Instead, this excursion focuses on a close exploration of the glacier’s edges, allowing for safe hiking experiences on the surrounding bedrock.

On our Fly-In Norris Glacier Hike and Packraft tour, you’ll venture across the surface of the Norris Glacier, navigating this otherworldly landscape with the aid of micro-spikes. Your exploration may lead you to encounter crevasses, glacier pools, moulins, and other astonishing ice formations. Keep in mind that these glacier features are in a constant state of transformation, reflecting the dynamic nature of our glaciers throughout the changing seasons.

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.

Where can I go to the bathroom during your trip?

On our day trips we recommended 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 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.

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.

Will we still go if it's raining?

We live in the Tongass National rainforest, therefore we operate rain or shine. We provide rain jacket and pants on all of our trips.

What if a trip is cancelled by Above and Beyond Alaska?

Above & Beyond Alaska reserves the right to cancel any trip due to inadequate sign-ups, unsafe weather or route conditions, clients not meeting our physical requirements, improper footwear worn by clients, and any other safety issues.  In such an event, a full refund is given if the trip has not yet departed.  However, ABAK is not responsible for additional expenses incurred (i.e., non-refundable airline tickets, meals, accommodations, etc).

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.

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

If your ship gets delayed, we will try to adjust your trip departure time or reschedule the trip.  If your ship is so late where time will not allow you to do a trip with us, we will give you a full refund.  If for some reason your ship cannot stop in Juneau as planned, you will be given a full refund.

Talk to an Expert

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