So Much to See and Do!

Where Alaska - - The Guide -

Wildlife cruises of­fer sight­ings of marine wildlife such as hump­back whales and or­cas while bear view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude black and brown bears at Pack Creek on Ad­mi­ralty Is­land, Anan Creek near Wrangell, Fish Creek near Hy­der and Her­ring Cove near Ketchikan. But wildlife isn’t South­east’s only draw. Chase your ad­ven­ture by kayak, take a zi­pline tour, go salt­wa­ter fish­ing, or fly to a nearby ice­field and walk on glaciers. SOUTH­EAST ALASKA Mist shrouded old­growth for­est, the smell and sound of the sea lap­ping against peb­bled beaches, hun­dreds of thickly forested is­lands along quiet wa­ter­ways: This is South­east. Also known as the “Pan­han­dle” of Alaska, it en­com­passes a nar­row strip of main­land backed up against the Coast Moun­tains and hun­dreds of is­lands in the Alexan­der Ar­chi­pel­ago. It is a uniquely dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment from the rest of Alaska, of­fer­ing a uniquely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for visi­tors.

Tours here in­clude glacier and ice­field flight­see­ing, as well as sight­see­ing cruises of Glacier Bay Na­tional Park, Misty Fiords Na­tional Mon­u­ment, LeConte Glacier, Stikine River and Tracy Arm. Ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand Rus­sian and Tlin­git dance per­for­mances and visit his­toric totem pole sites. Step into the past at col­or­ful sa­loons or ex­plore the wilder­ness by kayak or ca­noe (rentals read­ily avail­able in most com­mu­ni­ties).

South­east Alaska has very few roads; most com­mu­ni­ties are ac­ces­si­ble only by wa­ter or air. Travel through­out the area is by boat, state ferry, small plane (wheel and floats), and com­mer­cial jet ser­vice. SOUTH­EAST COM­MU­NI­TIES The main­line ports in South­east are Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Peters­burg, Wrangell, Haines and Sk­ag­way. Prince of Wales Is­land, a 3-hour ferry ride from Ketchikan, is the third largest is­land un­der the Amer­i­can flag (Ko­diak is sec­ond, the Big Is­land of Hawaii is first) and boasts the most ex­ten­sive road sys­tem in South­east.

Ketchikan (pop. 8,313) is “Alaska’s First City,” and its Wa­ter­front Prom­e­nade pays homage to the town’s sta­tus as first port of call in Alaska. Stop by the South­east Alaska Dis­cov­ery Cen­ter for a re­gional in­tro­duc­tion. And don’t miss the Totem Her­itage Cen­ter, Sax­man Totem Park or Totem Bight State His­tor­i­cal Park.

Wrangell (pop. 2,448) is the only Alaska city to have ex­isted un­der 4 na­tions and 3 flags—the Stikine Tlin­gits, the Rus­sians, Great Bri­tain and the United States. Wrangell has tours to Anan Wildlife Ob­ser­va­tory (for bear view­ing), the Stikine River Delta and LeConte Glacier.

Charm­ing Peters­burg (pop. 3,200) re­flects both its Nor­we­gian her­itage and its ma­jor in­dus­try—com­mer­cial fish­ing. Whale watch­ing, sea kayak­ing, LeConte Glacier and other cruises, tours and ac­tiv­i­ties en­ter­tain visi­tors.

Sitka (pop. 8,985), beau­ti­fully si­t­u­ated on the west side of Bara­nof Is­land, was the cap­i­tal of Rus­sian Alaska. It was here, at what is to­day Bara­nof Castle Hill State His­toric Site, that Alaska changed hands from Rus­sia to the United States on Oct. 18, 1867. Har­ri­gan Cen­ten­nial Hall hosts the New Ar­changel Dancers and the Sitka Sum­mer Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

Juneau (pop. 33,064), Alaska’s cap­i­tal, is the only U. S. cap­i­tal not ac­ces­si­ble by road. But it re­mains a gem of a city, of­ten re­ferred to as a “lit­tle San Fran­cisco.” See the Juneau fea­ture on page 19 for more on its charms.

Haines (pop. 2,530), gate­way to the Alaska High­way for In­side Pas­sage trav­el­ers, is lo­cated on Chilkoot In­let against a back­drop of rugged snow-cov­ered peaks. It is home to the Alaska Chilkat Bald Ea­gle Pre­serve, where more than 3,500 ea­gles con­gre­gate each Oc­to­ber.

Sk­ag­way (pop. 927) dates back to the Klondike Gold Rush and ev­i­dence of its past is ev­ery­where, from his­toric false-fronted build­ings and board­walks to the his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant White Pass & Yukon Route Rail­way.

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