Mendenhall Glacier offers some of the most beautiful shades of blue – let’s explore why this happens.

The Mendenhall Glacier is known for its dazzling blue colors that make for incredible photography opportunities, which is why so many visitors wonder what causes the amazing shades of blue. Let’s find out what makes this interesting array of colors occur.

Understanding the Iconic Color of Mendenhall Glacier

Whether you are standing outside of Mendenhall Glacier or walking through the famous Mendenhall Ice Caves, it is impossible not to notice the different shades of blue that are visible. The glacier offers various blue sights, with some being so light that they are almost white and others offering a deeper and darker shade of blue–but what really makes this happen?

What Makes Glaciers Blue?

Glaciers generally offer a combination of shades of blue when you look at them, which can make it seem like there is something in the ice itself. Due to the thickness of the glacier, it is very difficult for certain kinds of light to travel through it, which influences the color.

Specifically, long wavelengths can become trapped while traveling through the ice. The ice itself can absorb these long wavelengths, allowing only blue to shine through. This occurs in ice that is relatively pure and does not have a ton of air bubbles. As a general rule, the color changes depending on the actual thickness of the ice. When the light travels further through the ice, it becomes bluer. Therefore there is some variety in the colors of glaciers and ice caves.

Are All Glaciers Blue?

Ice glaciers are blue across the board because Mendenhall Ice Cavesit is just a natural byproduct of light traveling through thick ice, but the blue itself can vary–even from one portion of the glacier to the next. Some may think that glaciers can also be white, which is technically true–but not entirely accurate.

A glacier can be white if it is fully covered in snow, but that is not because of the glacier itself. It is the actual layer of snow that is on top of it.

The Takeaway

When you visit Mendenhall Glacier, you will be amazed by just how many different shades of blue are visible in the ice. Depending on the pattern of the melt and the amount of sunlight, these colors can vary from one visit to the next, making it exciting to go back for a second visit if you can.