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Overview

Facing the Pacific Ocean from the exposed western side of Baranof Island, Sitka is one of the loveliest and most historic towns in Alaska. It runs on a mixture of commercial fishing, tourism (primarily cruise ships), and government. Sitka served as the capital of Russian Alaska, and that heritage is still visible in St. Michael's Cathedral and in picturesque old Russian structures. Sitka National Historic Park has exhibits on both the Tlingit peoples and the Russians, plus wooded trails bordered by tall totem poles. Other local attractions include the Alaska Raptor Center with more than 20 bald eagles, surprising Native craft collections ...

Facing the Pacific Ocean from the exposed western side of Baranof Island, Sitka is one of the loveliest and most historic towns in Alaska. It runs on a mixture of commercial fishing, tourism (primarily cruise ships), and government. Sitka served as the capital of Russian Alaska, and that heritage is still visible in St. Michael's Cathedral and in picturesque old Russian structures. Sitka National Historic Park has exhibits on both the Tlingit peoples and the Russians, plus wooded trails bordered by tall totem poles. Other local attractions include the Alaska Raptor Center with more than 20 bald eagles, surprising Native craft collections within Sheldon Jackson Museum, a Tlingit cultural center, and several art galleries. An unusual girder-span bridge connects Sitka with Japonski Island (where the airport is located), and visitors can watch the acclaimed Russian-style dancers, climb through rainforest trails into dramatic alpine country, or join a fishing charter, wildlife tour, or sea-kayaking expedition. Access to Sitka is by air or sea only, with frequent ferry and jet service.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Don Pitcher for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer for most sights, but fall and winter for the best humpback whale viewing