Extraordinary Views of the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves


It may seem as if these pictures were taken from another planet, but they are actually shots of the Mendenhall Glacier which stretches 12 miles. It is located in Mendenhall Valley, approximately another 12 miles from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska. The mammoth glacier and its immediate landscape area is protected as the 5,815-acre Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally-designated unit of the Tongass National Forest. The 19 kilometer long Mendenhall Glacier is an extraordinary delight for both adventurous seekers as well as photographers such as Kent Mearig who goes beneath the glacier to capture its one-of-a-kind ice caves.

glacier mendenhall ice caves

Mearig has been a resident of Juneau for the past 20 years and has developed a special affinity with Mendenhall Glacier.  His stunning photos show bright blue domes of ice as well as flowing streams of cold water running over rocks below. The series, called Subglacial World, is a collection that looks as if it were pulled straight out of a sci-fi movie set.  Mearig, a Math teacher, took these impressive pictures from the inside of Mendenhall Glacier over past few the years, in the remote wilderness of Alaska.

mendenhall ice caves

“Sometimes I can get complacent about the photographic opportunities on the surface of glaciers or even in their caves, but this photo represents a truly once-in-a-lifetime situation. This cavernous tunnel is actually running through the middle of an iceberg, and the iceberg is frozen in the Mendenhall Lake,” says Mearig of his fascination with the undersides of Mendenhall Glacier.

mendenhall glacier

Mearig’s shots are so mesmerizing that he is often the victim of accusations that allege he manipulates his images digitally. The 31-year-old Mearig maintains that all he does to capture the unbelievable scenes from beneath is to be there at the precise time the sun does its magic with its light.  “They want to think that CGI and Photoshop are posing as nature, but anyone who has actually visited a subglacial cave can vouch for the legitimacy of my photographs.”


Mearig adds, “People sometimes refuse to believe that there is truly any place in the world that is the basis for all my photos.”

ice cave

View the ethereal ice caves captured by Mearig in his website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.