Alaska’s Wilderness Rim
Stretching from Demarcation Point on the Beaufort Sea, down the Bering Sea Coast to Bristol Bay, and out to Attu Island, westernmost tip of Alaska, this region encompasses millions of acres of land, including the YukonKuskokwim Delta. Wildlife refuges and parks offer unique opportunities for remote backcountry adventurers.
These more remote regions of Alaska, often referred to simply as “the Bush,” are not—with the exception of Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic—connected to the state’s road system. But they are connected by air to just about anywhere else in the state via charter or scheduled airlines. Travel within the region is also by boat in summer, snowmachine and dog sled in winter.
Bush Alaska draws both the rugged adventurer, with backpack and insect repellent in hand, and those who want to experience Bush life, but with amenities. Off-the-grid, fly-in lodges offer vacation packages that include gourmet meals, dog mushing (in winter), hiking and fishing (in summer), along with a host of other activities, including yoga. World-class fly-fishing and bear viewing are a focal point for many of these lodges.
For the adventurous, there are plenty of trips to choose from, whether it’s rafting the Kongkagut River, floating the Yukon River or backpacking Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The nation’s largest state park, Wood-Tikchik, an area about the size of Delaware at 1.6 million acres, is found here, as is the largest wildlife refuge, 20-millionacre Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
KATMAI NATIONAL PARK
Sport fishing and brown bear viewing are at the heart of Katmai’s draw, along with the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Fly-in lodges at Grosvenor Lake, Kulik Lake and other locations focus on sportfishing. Bears congregate at Brooks Falls, within walking distance of Brooks Lodge; viewing platforms and naturalist-guided walks are available. Bus tours leave the lodge for the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, 23 miles away, where streams have cut dramatic gorges through volcanic debris left by the June 6, 1912, eruption of Novarupta Volcano.
Located on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska, the city of Kodiak (pop. 6,338) is a 50-minute plane ride from Anchorage. Kodiak Island is home to the largest brown bears in North America; worldclass sportfishing; one of the largest Coast Guard bases and one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the nation. Kodiak attractions include Alutiiq Museum, Baranov Museum, Kodiak Island Brewery and the Kodiak Military History Museum. Kodiak Island surfing has been compared to Hawaii’s (with a bit of a temperature difference).
From small villages to first-class cities, populations are predominantly Alaska Native, and the traditional subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and gathering, remains prevalent today. Major communities include: Barrow (pop. 4,469), the farthest north settlement in the U.S.; Bethel (pop. 6,241), transportation hub for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta; Kotzebue (pop. 3,153), an Inupiat Eskimo city located 26 miles above the Arctic Circle and a popular destination with tour groups; Nome (pop. 3,695), the finish for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race™; Dillingham (pop. 2,431), noted for its commercial fishing in Bristol Bay; and Unalaska/ Dutch Harbor (pop. 4,364), farthest west port for the Alaska state ferry system, noted for its commercial crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Prudhoe Bay, a 500-mile drive from Fairbanks, is populated by oil industry employees.