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 a part of your next adventure!

Why join an Above & Beyond Alaska Trip?

We are a locally owned and operated company who 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 outdoors 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 with education leads to conservation. We take pride in doing what we love and hope to share with others this beautiful world full of adventure.

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

No experience is necessary for our trips and we cater to all ages and 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 Trek – 10 years old
  • Private Glacier Trek – 8 years old
  • Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek – 12 years old (same for the private tour)
  • Private Fortress of the Bears Kayak Adventure – 8 years old
  • Fortress of the Bears Kayak Adventure – 12 years old
  • Paddle with Whales Kayak Adventure – 8 years old
  • Private Paddle with Whales Kayak Adventure – 7 years old
  • Auke Bay Sea Kayak Tour – 8 years old
  • Private Auke Bay Sea Kayak Tour – 7 years old

We do not have a maximum age requirement.  The only requirement is that older clients are still 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 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 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, harness, micro spike traction footwear, trekking poles
    • 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 bar, assorted cheese, assorted nut pack, fruit snacks, gold fish crackers, carrots and humus, and a souvenir water bottle
    • Paddle with Whales! includes a similar, hearty snack pack as the Glacier Trips.
    • Fortress of the Bears Kayak:  a full lunch with a variety of snacks, and water (varies by guide preference and client allergies, dietary restrictions, and/or requests)

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 then 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 on Mendenhall Lake, such as the Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek, we provide neoprene rubber boots made by Bogs. 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 6 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 two 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 sea kayaking 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 porcupine, beaver, 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 Mendenhall Glacier is receding on a daily basis and due to this, we are seeing drastic changes to the surface of the glacier. Our site for trekking on the glacier with crampons has continued to get steeper and more challenging each summer. These changes, along with rising lake levels have left us with very limited, safe areas to explore on the ice. Therefore, as we prepare for our 2022 season, we want you to know that we can’t guarantee that every trip will get on the glacier. Our rates for 2022 have been reduced to reflect this change. Safety is our number one priority and we assess conditions daily on every trip. If we can’t walk on the glacier, then we will spend more time exploring the glacier up close and hiking around the edges of it safely from the bedrock. The edge of the glacier has some of the most stunning features you will find; this is where ice caves, tunnels, and tubes tend to form creating those beautiful blue colors. These features are never guaranteed, but do form throughout the summer.

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

Cardiovascular training is a must.  Our Mendenhall Glacier Trek 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 & Trek which replaces hiking with paddling and so 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 50 and 65 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?

Since we live in a rainforest, we operate rain or shine. We provide rain jacket and pants on all of our trips.

What is your cancellation policy?

Any payment made with our company is fully refundable 15 days or more prior to trip date. If the reservation is cancelled between 14-8 days prior to trip date, 50% of total trip price becomes non-refundable. If the reservation is cancelled 7 days or less prior to trip date, 100% of total trip price becomes non-refundable. Above & Beyond Alaska strongly recommends all clients carry travel insurance in order to safeguard against any unanticipated changes to travel plans.

COVID-19 Cancellation Policy:
If a reservation is cancelled 14 days or less prior to trip departure due to COVID-19 travel related reasons, then we will issue a full refund if we are provided documentation from them showing their airline, cruise, or ferry itineraries have changed and they are unable to participate in our trip due to this change. If a reservation is cancelled 14 days or less prior to the trip departure date because of a COVID diagnosis, or any other illness, a doctor’s note will be required for a full refund.
If a customer is unable to provide proof of documentation, then no refunds will be given if cancelled 14 days or less prior to the trip departure.

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 with our company are safety and getting clients back to their ship in 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 you onto another 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.  The chances of your ship not arriving in Juneau is very slim.

Talk to an Expert

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