Archive for the ‘Mount Roberts Tramway’ Category

Mount Roberts Tramway Celebrates Marmot Day

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

In 2009, the Alaska State Legislature officially declared each Feb. 2 Marmot Day, the Alaskan equivalent of Pennsylvania’s Groundhog Day. Unfortunately, Alaska’s version of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog famed for his winter weather forecasts, is always hibernating at this time of year. So Mount Roberts Tramway General Manager George Reifenstein decided to wheel out a rather large substitute.

Monty the Marmot reveals his forecast to Mount Roberts Tramway General Manager George Reifeinstein (Juneau Empire Photo).

On Feb. 2, Reifenstein and Mount Roberts Tramway maintenance manager Robert Cozby placed Monty the Marmot in front of the Tramway building next to the Juneau cruise ship dock in honor of Marmot Day. Monty, who spends summers at the Mount Roberts Tramway’s upper complex being photographed with visitors, did not see his shadow.

Marmot Day lore says if it’s cloudy when a marmot emerges from its burrow it will stay outside, signifying an early end to winter. If it’s sunny, however, the groundhog will sees its shadow and scurry back into its burrow to hide, and winter weather will continue for six more weeks. Of course, this is Alaska, and winters have actually been known to linger much longer than that!

Alaska has three types of marmots: the hoary marmot, the Alaska marmot and the woodchuck (also known as the groundhog), which is found in the interior. Part of the squirrel family, Alaska’s marmots are the largest found in North America. They reach peak weight at the end of summer and hibernate all winter, usually not emerging until April or May.

Reifenstein said Monty’s ceremonial emergence from the Mount Roberts Tramway’s lower terminal will become an annual celebration, giving the big guy and the animals he represents a dependable 15 minutes of fame every year. “Tourists ask if our marmots are really this big,” Reifenstein said, referring to Monty. “Our standard response is that if they were, we would have bars on the windows.”

Marmot surveys the Mount Roberts Tramway (Bob Armstrong Photo).

Click here for more information on other upcoming events at the Mount Roberts Tramway. The Tramway is scheduled to open full operations for the 2011 season on Friday, May 6.

Coyotes and Bears Seen Near Mount Roberts Tramway

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

A coyote makes off with its food (Brandon Hauser Photo).

Wildlife sightings on Mount Roberts are common, but recent sightings of a bear family and coyotes during daylight hours rank as more unusual.

On an overcast August evening about three miles from the Mount Roberts Tramway Mountain House, photographer Brandon Hauser saw a lone coyote come out of the brush. “It sniffed out a piece of meat and began to consume its supper in a playful manner,” Hauser said.  “After about 10 minutes of working its grub, the coyote abruptly rose to its feet and sniffed the air, and then a mother black bear appeared out of the forest with three cubs following close behind. The coyote grabbed its meal and wasted no time fleeing the scene. The bears sniffed around where the coyote was and playfully wandered the area before disappearing themselves.” 

Then the bears follow his scent (Brandon Hauser Photo).

Then the bears follow his scent (Brandon Hauser Photo).

More of Hauser’s images of Juneau, its animals and scenery can be found at

Bob Armstrong, an Alaskan writer who has published several nature books, has also noted the increased coyote activity around Juneau. “In the 1960s and 1970s, coyotes were quite common in the Juneau area,” he says, “but then they were infrequently seen until recently. The six coyotes that have frequented Bear Valley over the last month or so are probably a family group. Coyotes typically roam in groups of around six. They may consist of related adults, yearlings and young of the year.”

Parent and youngster coyotes (Bob Armstrong Photo).

Parent and youngster coyotes frolic in a meadow (Bob Armstrong Photo).

The Mount Roberts Tramway offers a well-marked trail system with hikes suitable for every ability level. Trail features include bear viewing platforms, interpretive signage, scultptures and carved trees and a trail that is handicap‑accessible. There is also the Juneau Raptor Center Bald Eagle Display and the Mount Roberts Nature Center, where naturalists offer deck talks and narrated slide presentations about nature and the natural history of Southeast Alaska and a gift shop that specializes in nature-oriented gifts, books and maps.

Summer 2010 Survey Says Mount Roberts Tramway Provides Excellent Value

Monday, September 6th, 2010

ClarkJamesMishler008Mount Roberts Tramway visitors rated its overall value “excellent” or “very good” on 94 percent of the comment cards filled out between May and Sept. 2, 2010. A total of 1,224 cards were collected from visitors representing 48 states and more than 15 foreign countries. 

Visitors also gave high marks to scenic and cultural attractions of the Mount Roberts Tramway. Almost 90 percent of the respondents rated the trails “excellent” or “very good,” while 98 percent thought the 18-minute HD Blu-Ray cultural film Seeing Daylight was “excellent” or “very good.”  The Raven Eagle Gift Shop  was rated “excellent” or “very good” by 92 percent of those responding. 

The Mount Roberts Tramway staff also got overwhelming approval on the 2010 comment cards. Staff appearance was rated “excellent” or “very good” on 95 percent of the cards, while 92 percent rated the Tramway narration during the 5 ½-minute ride in the enclosed gondola to the mountain top “excellent” or “very good.”

Visitors gave high marks to Mount Roberts' mountaintop trails (Clark James Mishler Photos).

Visitors gave high marks to Mount Roberts' mountaintop trails (Clark James Mishler Photo).

“It’s gratifying to the Mount Roberts Tramway staff that our customers enjoy their experience on the mountain so much and consider their time and money well spent,” said Mount Roberts Tramway General Manager George Reifenstein. “The staff works hard to present the landscape and Alaskan culture in the best light possible, and it’s nice to know our visitors appreciate our efforts and will remember their day here for a long time to come.”

Visitors Call Mount Roberts Tramway a Fantastic Alaskan Experience

Friday, September 3rd, 2010
Visitors read interpretive sign along the Mount Roberts trails (Clark James Mishler Photo).

Visitors read interpretive sign along the Mount Roberts trails (Clark James Mishler Photo).

Every year, the Mount Roberts Tramway welcomes visitors from all 50 states and 15 to 20 foreign countries. The ones who have taken the time to fill out customer comment cards tell us that their day on Mount Roberts in Juneau is one of the highlights of their Alaska vacation.

This past summer, for example, one Hawaiian visitor rated her Mount Roberts Tramway trip “above excellent.” She wrote that she appreciated the solitude and pristine conditions of the mountain, and that the entire experience was “really great, educational, fun and rewarding.”

Up on the mountaintop after the 5 1/2-minute ride in an enclosed gondola, the Mount Roberts Tramway provides visitors a variety of outdoor and indoor activities every day. “The trails are amazing,” one Venezuelan tourist wrote. “Everything is perfect.” A visitor from Coalinga, Calif., also loved the view. “I enjoyed most sitting out on the deck drinking tea,” she wrote, referring to the outdoor seating of Mount Roberts Tramway’s Timberline Bar & Grill. “The pictures on the wall are wonderful to the native people, and the photos are beautiful.”

Aerial shot shows upper docking station and roof of the MRT's Mountain House and its spectacular views (MRt Photo).

Aerial shot shows upper docking station and roof of the MRT's Mountain House and its spectacular views (MRT Photo).

Many domestic and foreign travelers praised the Mount Roberts Tramway for its cultural and entertainment offerings. One Australian tourist called the continuously shown, award-winning, 18-minute HD Blu-Ray film Seeing Daylight “brilliant. It gave us a glimpse of your wonderful culture and beautiful country,” he wrote. “If only the whole world had your values!” Likewise, an Israeli visitor described the film as an “inspiring story of your struggle to maintain your identity and preserve your culture.” A visitor from Ontario, Canada, also found it “very moving–and the (live) native dancers were the highlight of my trip.”

Other visitors mentioned that they find the Mount Roberts Tramway’s friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere inviting even if the weather turned nasty. “The welcoming attitude of your staff and the warm feel of your facility came across even in the middle of a rainstorm,” wrote one visitor from Greeley, Colo. “Helpful, wonderful, happy employees,” pointed out another.

Perhaps a springtime visitor from Southington, Conn., summed it up best when she called her day on the Mount Roberts Tramway “more than expected! Not just a ‘tram ride,’ but an awesome experience at a lovely facility.”

Click here for more information on the Mount Roberts Tramway and all of its features and attractions.