– Eat your fill of famous Alaska King Crab at Kodiak’s Crab Festival
– Observe brown bears in their natural habitat at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park
– See thousands of bird species converge on the Pribilof Islands
– Learn about World War II history in Dutch Harbor, the site of the 1942 Japanese bombing
– Raft the Nushagak River near Dillingham
– Fish for trophy-sized trout in Iliamna Lake
– Hike through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes near King Salmon
– Visit the Walrus Island State Game Sanctuary near Togiak for the chance to see thousands of walrus
– Assist in an Alutiiq archaeological dig on the Island of Kodiak and visit the Alutiiq Museum
The specialized gear you will need to bring will be minimal.
As a general rule, you need to dress in layers when you come to Alaska.
And don’t forget your sunglasses! Even in wintertime, Southwest Alaska can have bright sunlight. Compounded with the snow it can be almost blinding.
Any specialized gear needed for a tour will most likely be provided by the tour company.
Other items to be sure to bring along are a camera and binoculars.
Southwest Average high/low (F) temperaturesJan: 35/25
WEATHER AND CLOTHING
The temperatures in Southwest Alaska range from lows in January in the mid-20s (F) to highs in July in the low 60s.
Southwest Alaska has a cooler, more constant temperature. But as with any place in Alaska, the weather can be unpredictable. As a rule it is best to dress in layers, avoiding any heavy winter gear, unless of course, you visit Southwest Alaska in the winter. A light wind and water repellent coat is also good to have on hand.
See Southwest Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.
Southwest contains some of the best bear viewing areas in the state, including McNeal River State Game Sanctuary, Katmai National Park – Brooks Falls, and Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge – South Frazer Lake. Many tour operators also offer bear viewing opportunities.
For complete bear viewing information visit the Alaska Public Lands Information Center website at www.alaskacenters.gov/bears.cfm.
Alaska’s expansive Southwest region is home to the communities of Bethel, King Salmon, Unalaska, Dillingham, Kodiak and the Pribilof Islands. The area is as diverse as it is big.
Unalaska, located on the Aleutian Island chain, is home to Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Ascension and the Bishop’s House. The church hosts one of the largest collections of religious artifacts and icons in the United States. Kodiak Island, known primarily for its mammoth brown bears, boasts many cultural attractions in addition to housing one of the world’s most legendary mammals. The Baranov Museum, a warehouse built in the 1790s by Alexander Baranof to store furs, is the oldest remaining Russian structure in the state.
Kodiak is also rich with Alaska Native culture. The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository reveal 8,000 years of Alutiiq history through artifacts and archaeological digs. A new archaeological excavation gets underway every summer and volunteers are invited to participate.
The temperatures in Southeast Alaska tend to be more mild than the rest of the state. Summer temperatures can get into the 70s (F) but usually hover in the 60s. Winter temperatures are fairly mild, rarely falling below 20.
Average high/low (F)
WEATHER AND CLOTHING
It is a general rule in Alaska that visitors should dress in layers, and Southeast Alaska is no different. The Inside Passage receives a fair amount of rain due to the fact that is resides within the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s only temperate rainforest. It’s also why the vegetation is so full and the landscape is so lush. The rain contributes to the significant beauty of the Inside Passage and visitors will tell you, a little rain never stopped anyone.
See Inside Passage Climate & Weather for a complete clothing guide.
Throughout the Inside Passage, cultural attractions abound.
Sitka is home to Sitka National Historic Park, which houses an impressive collection of totem poles. Visitors to the park can wander forested trails while learning about stories the poles tell. Tour St. Michael’s Cathedral, a bright blue, onion-domed Russian Orthodox Church that dominates Sitka’s skyline. If visitors time it right, they can attend the Sitka Summer Music Festival. Held every year in June, it emphasizes chamber music and attracts an international group of professional musicians.
Further along the coast of the Inside Passage is the town of Wrangell. Wrangell holds the distinction of being the only Alaskan city to have existed under four nations and three flags – the Stikine Tlingits, the Russians, Great Britain and the United States. The Wrangell Museum features cultural exhibits, such as the oldest known Tlingit housepost in Southeast Alaska, a rare spruce canoe and spruce root and cedar bark basket collections. Wrangell is known for its impressive collection of petroglyphs. The Alaska State Park at Petroglyph Beach features a newly constructed, fully accessible wooden boardwalk where guests can make rubbings from reproduced petroglyphs.
In Ketchikan, the cultural traveler can find authentic totem poles. The Totem Heritage Center houses 33 totems and fragments retrieved from deserted Tlingit and Haida Indian villages. In fact, this national landmark houses the largest collection of original totems in the United States. Saxman Totem Park houses totems as well but includes carving demonstrations and performances by the Cape Fox Dancers at the Beaver Tribal House. Galleries galore are found on Ketchikan’s bustling waterfront. The Blueberry Arts Festival, held annually in August, features arts and crafts, performing arts, a juried art show and other fun activities.
Haines, meanwhile, has a rich tradition of Tlingit culture. The area was originally named Deishu, meaning beginning of the trail. The local Native community of Klukwan is considered to be the mother village and the cradle of the Tlingit people. In Haines, visitors can experience Native heritage in many ways. Known as an artists’ haven, there are numerous art galleries. There, visitors can find beautiful pieces of Native artwork, from intricately carved jewelry to limited edition prints, hand-carved masks and basketry. The Sheldon Museum has an impressive collection of Chilkat Blankets and is a wealth of information for those interested in the history of the local Chilkat and Chilkoot tribes. Local Native-owned businesses offer custom tours through the Chilkat Valley and into the Village of Klukwan as well as daily catamaran service to Skagway.
Alaska Indian Arts, located in historic Fort Seward, is a world-renowned center for totem carving and other Native arts. Open to the public and free of charge, visitors can enjoy watching master carvers at work while learning a little bit about the traditions of the Tlingit people. Nearby is the Totem Village, with a collection of totems surrounding a Tlingit Tribal House. This is where the Chilkat Dancers Storytelling Theatre performs contemporary interpretations of traditional Native legends. The show is performed most evenings throughout the summer and is a “must see.” Juneau also is rich in Tlingit culture, specifically art – totem poles, carvings, weaving, jewelry and demonstrations. Many of Juneau’s public and private business and buildings are decorated with Tlingit art, and the local Native corporation owns and operates visitor attractions and activities in Juneau as well as Glacier Bay National Park and Glacier Bay Cruise line. At the Mt. Roberts Tram, also Native-owned, visitors can view the award winning film “Seeing Daylight,” a celebration of Tlingit culture and history. The Alaska State Museum displays many artifacts of the local Native culture as well as the Native culture of the entire state.
You will need to make as many pre-arrangements as possible for a trip to Alaska.
Hotel and rental cars can be expensive and hard to find if you wait too long. So you’ll definitely want to reserve these ahead of time.
On tours, you will want to use sensible judgment. Tours that have limited space should be reserved ahead of time. Activities that are offered several times daily can probably be booked closer to travel.
Check with our tour department when you inquire more information about reservation.