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24 votes

Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures

7600 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, Alaska 99801 USA

  • Independent
  • Public
  • Outdoor

“alaska's hidden beauty”

Most people don't come to Alaska expecting to be dazzled by lush greenery and bright, colorful flowers, but that's exactly what you'll find at Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures. Located in the Tongass National Forest just outside Juneau, the gardens and nursery are proof that Alaska is more than just tundra-- it's teeming with plant and animal life. The Gardens are most famous for one thing in particular: these upside-down flower towers, formed from uprooted trees and dripping with vibrant blooms.    The beautful, organic flower towers were actually invented by accident. Steve and Cindy Bowhay, who ran a plant nursery, purchased some storm-damaged land in the Mendenhall Valley to rehabilitate, and while Steve was using an excavator to move around hunks of rock, toppled trees, and loads of soil, he accidentally damaged the equipment on a huge boulder. Frustrated, he used the tool to pick up a tree trunk and slam it, top down, into the ground. Rather than splinter to pieces, the tree stuck in the mud, with the roots hanging down like vines. Frustration forgotten, Steve began to envision a forest of upside-down trees, recycled from the property, all with arrangements of flowers planted in the roots. The trees are mostly spruce or hemlock, and each has between 75-100 flowering plants in the roots, creating a burst of color. They also added waterfalls and ponds to the stream on the property, enhancing the natural beauty and making the most of the once-lifeless land. The Glacier Gardens also covers some land in the Tongass National Forest, and offers guided tours of the serene woodland, as well as a bit of land on Thunder Mountain that offers panoramic views of Juneau and beyond. Seriously, you'll forget that you're in Alaska entirely! -Roadtrippers The Bowhay’s began Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure as a way to express their  botanical creativity through the use of the natural landscape. Some use a canvas to paint a picture, while Steve and Cindy have changed the mountain-side on Thunder Mountain to create a lasting image of Alaskan beauty. In 1994 the enterprising couple purchased six-and-a-half acres of storm damaged property from a gracious local businessman eager to help the couple expand upon their thriving Nurseryoperation. Steve and Cindy began to rehabilitate the property to safeguard their greenhouses from problematic environmental concerns. The property’s ecological issues were the result of a huge storm that occurred in the summer of 1984 which caused a massive landslide to let loose tons upon tons of organic material from the 1,500 ft elevation of Hienzelman Ridge on Thunder Mountain. After permitting the U.S. Forest Service and the City of Juneau, Steve and Cindy acquired an additional 44.5 acres of forested property on which they created over two miles of pathway and a guided tour so visitors from around the world can enjoy the scenery.  The acquired acreage offers a rock face cliff at the 580ft level of Thunder Mountain where a panoramic view of Juneau awaits visitors. It was during the reclamation that Steve discovered the trademark botanical design at Glacier Gardens: The Upside-Down Flower Tower tree. Read Steve’s story of this beautiful accident, review the 7 simple steps for planting your own Flower Tower, and send us a picture so we can share your creation with our gardening friends. The Mendenhall Valley was carved into the towering mountain-sides by the great Mendenhall Glacier, one of the world’s rare drive-up glaciers. During the historic mining days, the valley was mostly a farming community which fed many of the downtown miners. There were dairies, mink farms, vegetable gardens, a chicken farm, and cows and horses strewn throughout the Mendenhall Wetlands located on the banks of the Gastineau Channel. At this time there was only one road connecting downtown Juneau to the valley, named Glacier Highway.  It is on this road you will find Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure.

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Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures

7600 Glacier Hwy
Juneau, Alaska
99801 USA

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  • Independent
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Free Parking
  • Yes Parking
  • Not Haunted

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