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Overview

A long 800-mile flight southwest of Anchorage, the busy port of Dutch Harbor is America's top fishing port, both in terms of pounds caught and valuation. It is the most accessible of the Aleutian Islands, a 1,000-mile chain of active volcanoes that reaches almost to Russia. The protected harbor sits on Unalaska Island, with the oft-steaming summit of Makushin Volcano behind the town of Unalaska. (Although it's often called "Dutch" by outsiders, locals prefer to use the town name of Unalaska.) Seafood processing plants are all over town, handling pollock, crab, salmon, cod, halibut, and herring roe, much of it en route to Japanese and Korean ...

A long 800-mile flight southwest of Anchorage, the busy port of Dutch Harbor is America's top fishing port, both in terms of pounds caught and valuation. It is the most accessible of the Aleutian Islands, a 1,000-mile chain of active volcanoes that reaches almost to Russia. The protected harbor sits on Unalaska Island, with the oft-steaming summit of Makushin Volcano behind the town of Unalaska. (Although it's often called "Dutch" by outsiders, locals prefer to use the town name of Unalaska.) Seafood processing plants are all over town, handling pollock, crab, salmon, cod, halibut, and herring roe, much of it en route to Japanese and Korean markets. The surrounding seas can be treacherous and many fishermen have lost their lives, especially during the Bering Sea king crab fishery. Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch has made TV stars out of a few of these crabbers. Back on the island are a number of interesting sights, including the surprising Museum of the Aleutians and a lovely Russian Orthodox church built in 1824. The area was bombed by the Japanese in 1942 and the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area & Interpretive Center commemorates this era with an interesting collection of artifacts. Dirt roads lead up Mt. Ballyhoo to the rusting bunkers and gun emplacements of Fort Schwatka, where World War II soldiers watched for enemy ships and planes. Another interesting dirt road leads to open country around Summer Bay where a few horses graze.

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, unless you're looking for a job on one of the crab boats.