top of page

Baranof Island - Sitka, Alaska

The journey from Wrangell to Sitka took 15 hours, passing by Petersburg, across Frederick Sound and out to Sitka, which lies outside the Inside Passage, facing the open Pacific. Sitka was the site where, in 1867, ownership of Alaska was transferred from Russia to the United States for 2 cents per acre, or $7.2m. That was before the gold rush and before the discovery of oil.

The forecast throughout our stay was for rain and it didn't disappoint, but we managed to have a great time. Camping north in the Starrigavan Recreation area, we made the most of the local walks through rainforest, blueberry picking and fishing. The first fish caught was snagged so it went back, but Starrigavan Creek was full of pink salmon so it didn't take long before we had fresh fish for dinner.

In 1804, Sitka was the capital of Russian America, following the establishment of a settlement by Alexander Baranov on the site of an ancient Tlingit (KLINK-it) village. The town's Russian heritage is especially well reflected in St Michael Archangel Orthodox Cathedral, established in 1844, burnt to a cinder in 1966, but with most of its artefacts having been rescued and lovingly restored in the rebuilt church.

The native Alaskan culture is reflected throughout the town: the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House is a modern version of a traditional clan house and the Sitka National Historic Park, established to commemorate the Battle of Sitka between the Tlingit and the Russians, was beautiful, with many artefacts and some great totem poles.

We managed to get out kayaking with Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures for a half day and watched as a whale fished in the waters between Baranof Island and Middle Island, our destination. This was possibly the closest we've been to a whale and being in a kayak, at sea level, made the experience even the more amazing. No pictures from that experience, but we were equally rewarded when we left Sitka heading for Juneau. Frederick Sound, which is renowned for whales and, passing this time by day, we were given a great display by one humpback.

bottom of page