Remote Lodges and Parklands Invite You to the Wilderness
Endless acres of Alaska state parks and national wildlife refuges offer abundant opportunities for the extreme backcountry adventurer, but it’s also a mecca for those who desire pampering at off-the-grid lodges. This area includes remote Native villages and unparalleled bear and wildlife viewing. Travel within the region is typically by small plane, boat, snowmachine and even dog sled.
Bordering the Bering Sea, the Western Alaska coastline is virtually treeless and barren. Still, the Western region is one of Alaska’s most resourcerich areas. The Bering Sea abounds with pollock, herring, Pacific cod and Alaska king crab. Seals, sea lions and humpback whales share the marine environment. Polar bears, musk ox, caribou and wolves roam the northern landscape, and millions of migratory birds nest in the area.
Called “the Bush,” the communities in Western Alaska are primarily inhabited by Alaska Natives who rely on the land in much the way their ancestors did. Subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering are common practices.
The Western region features the nation’s largest state park, Wood-Tikchik, an area about the size of Delaware. It offers more than 1.6 million acres of land for climbing, hiking and other mountaineering activities. The 20-million-acre Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is another natural asset of the region. It’s the largest wildlife refuge in the nation, and its efforts to conserve wildlife populations and habitats are helping support continued subsistence in the region. The ref- uge contains the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world. Backcountry lodges provide comfortable (and in some cases, decadent) backcountry stays.
Kodiak (pop. 6,626) is located in the Gulf of Alaska on Kodiak Island, a 50-minute plane ride 250 miles southwest of Anchorage. Known as Alaska’s Emerald Isle, Kodiak Island is the second-largest island in the U.S. and is renowned for the largest brown bears in North America and world-class sportfishing. The island is home to the largest Coast Guard base in the nation and a nearly unparalleled commercial fishing fleet. Area museums include the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository, the Baranov Museum and several others.
KATMAI NATIONAL PARK
Volcanoes and bears are at the heart of Katmai. Within the borders of the national park and preserve are 15 volcanoes, some still active, and North America’s largest population of protected brown bears at about 2,000 strong. You can hike, kayak, and canoe in the park or sportfish in pristine rivers. And you can watch the best fisher of them all, the great Alaskan brown bear. At the end of the day in the wilderness you can relax in a rustic yet comfortable lodge on the shores.
UNALASKA Unalaska/Dutch Harbor (pop. 4,364) is known for being one of the largest fisheries ports in the U.S. and became famous in the Discovery Chanel’s “Deadliest Catch” television show. Unalaska’s population represents a wide range of cultures, including Alaska Natives, Asians, Hispanics and Norwegians. It is the furthest west port for the Alaska Marine Ferry. NOME Nome (pop. 3,695) is situated on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. It was a bustling gold-rush town from 1899 to 1903, attracting thousands of prospectors and opportunists. Today, the village is home to predominantly Inupiat Eskimos. It hosts the finish line for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race each March. ADDITIONAL COMMUNITIES: Barrow (pop. 4,200), Bethel (pop. 6,228), Kotzebue (pop. 3, 200), Dillingham ( pop. 3,200).
Kodiak Island is home to the largest species of brown bears in the world.