Juneau, Alaska’s Upside-Down Forest at Glacier Gardens
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Head to the most scenic capital city in America – Juneau, Alaska. Here, at the head of Gastineau Channel, you’ll find absolutely unreal natural beauty where the mountains meet the sea in perfect harmony. A true hidden gem that many don’t know about, is the upside-down forest of Glacier Gardens. Throughout this top-rated attraction, visitors will have the opportunity to roam over 50 acres of lush botanical gardens in a truly magical and enchanting setting.
Resident tour guides escort visitors through the fascinating garden creations while offering educational information about the surrounding temperate rainforest’s ecosystem as well as the plant and animal life. Perhaps the most remarkable attraction here is the upside down trees known as “flower towers.” Steve, one of the owners, had a brilliant idea after a 1984 landslide occurred. Through much frustration finagling boulders and masses of soil, roots, plants, and fallen trees – he had an “ah-ha” moment. The way the roots hung from the root-ball actually looked quite a lot like vines on a petunia basket.
Steve’s vision quickly took place: Recycle the trees from clearing the land by turning them upside-down and into what are now referred to as flower towers.
The flower towers are made by inverting a spruce or hemlock tree with the “root ball” pointing towards the sky. The tree trunk is buried 5-7 feet into the ground. Then, each year a gentleman on-site known as Mr. Bowhay personally plants each flower tower with around 75-100 remarkable, colorful, flowering plants. This is garden art at it’s finest!
Unique is the most accurate way to describe Glacier Gardens, A.K.A. Alaska’s unreal upside-down forest. These “flower towers” were even recognized by Reader’s Digest in 2012 as “America’s Most Interesting Landmark” according to a poll by readers.
After visiting the upside-down forest at Glacier Gardens, don’t forget that Juneau has so much more to offer. From day trips fishing for multi-species on the saltwater, to sky-high hiking adventures with panoramic views are bound to take your breath away. Or if you like to take it easy with more moderate activities, you really don’t have to go far at all. Downtown Juneau and nearby Douglas Island offer tons of easily accessible options from sight-seeing, shopping, amazing restaurants, and more. Just being in such a spectacular setting is a true treat within itself.
The lush rainforest of Alaska’s “Crown Jewel” surrounds you. It’s hard to deny the magic of soaring bald eagles, spawning salmon, fascinating wildlife, and awe-inspiring vistas of “wild” Alaska. One of the areas most enticing attractions is undeniably the Mendenhall Ice Caves, which offer a surreal glacier viewing experience.
Do you have any rare and unusual memories from Glacier Gardens A.K.A. Alaska’s upside-down forest? We’d love to hear your stories and see all your fun photos!
Looking for another great read? If you love Alaska’s idyllic charm, check out these 11 charming Alaska small towns that’ll leave you wanting more. Buckle up and prepare to enjoy: Road-Trippin’ Alaska; Your perfect way to escape the crowds in 2020. Also, for all of your adventurers that like an off the beaten path experience, take a look at America’s least-visited National Park located right here in Alaska.