Juneau is a capital of contrasts and conflicts. It borders a waterway that never freezes but lies beneath an ice field that never melts. It was the first community in the Southeast to slap a head tax on cruise-ship passengers but still draws more than a million a year. It’s the state capital but since the 1980s Alaskans have been trying to move it. It doesn’t have any roads that go anywhere, but half its residents and its mayor opposed a plan to build one that would.
Welcome to America’s strangest state capital. In the winter it’s a beehive of legislators, their loyal aides and lobbyists locked in political struggles. In summer it’s a launchpad for copious outdoor adventures. Superb hiking starts barely 10 minutes from downtown, a massive glacier calves into a lake 12 miles up the road, and boats and seaplanes take off from the waterfront bound for nearby bear-viewing, ziplining and whale-watching.