KO­DIAK/RU­RAL ALASKA

Where Alaska - - The Guide -

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.

RU­RAL ALASKA

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

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.

RU­RAL COM­MU­NI­TIES

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.

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