Location / Coordinates: Sitka, Alaska is located in the “South East” along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Northwest of Ketchikan by air about 180 miles, southwest of Juneau just under 100 air miles.
Coordinates Latitude 57.05 & Longitude 135.33.
Population / Elevation: Sitka, Alaska has nearly 9,000 citizens that live on this beautiful island, Baranof Island, at sea level.
Description: Sitka, Alaska is a gem of a city surrounded by a lush temperate rain forest, and clear blue water teeming with wildlife. Sitka itself is a wonderful city to explore by foot with historic buildings and museums, parks with magnificent Totems, and wonderful shops and eateries to explore.
What to do there: Plan to spend a couple of days in Sitka, Alaska. Enjoy the beautiful scenery everywhere you look, walk the city streets and don’t forget to step inside St. Michael’s Cathedral in the center of town. It was built in the 1840’s and is a focal point for Sitka’s Russian History. Another Russian-ear structure worth seeing is Building 29. Sitka, Alaska is almost like a living historic center, with its Sitka Pioneers’ Home, totem Square, the Sitka Lutheran Church, and several museums scattererd around town.
Shopping in Sitka, Alaska is a wonderful experience. Exquisite furs, gold and silver jewelry, and Russian baubles await those looking for something different. Colorful glass, distinguished art, and classic Tlingit designs can be found all over Sitka.
The Tlingit peoples have inhabited this area for centuries. Original Totems, masterpieces of their colorful culture, can be seen in the Sitka National Historical Park. Bring your picnic lunch and head into this magical forest park down well-groomed trails pass the towering Totems–some of them seem to be peeking around the Spruce trees. The park building houses some interesting Tlingit and Russian artifacts. Don’t miss the demonstrations of basket weaving, weaving and other Tlingit crafts being given during the summer season.
Sitka is home to the Alaska Raptor Center. This facility treats injured wild birds, rehabilitates them and tries to return them to the wild. Those birds that wouldn’t otherwise survive are loaned to zoos around the country. Eagles, hawks, owls, and geese can be viewed in their recovery pens. The “ER” (emergency room) also has a window so visitors can watch as skilled personnel treat injured birds.
Sitka offers some great fishing opportunities. The Annual salmon Derby on Memorial Day weekend and the following weekend as a big hit with locals and visitors to Sitka. Saltwater fishing is done by charter. There are countless lakes and rivers on Baranof Island with good fishing as well. Many of the fishing spots can be reached easily, some of the more remote spots can be reached via air.
History: Sitka, Alaska was settled by the Tlingit Indians when it was “discovered” they Russians. Alexander Baranof, Chief Manager of the Russian-American Company built a trading post in the late 1799 where Sitka is now. Relations between the two cultures deteriorated and the Tlingit’s burned down the Russian sector. Baranof returned, rebuilt, and became governor of Russian Alaska.
Salmon fishing was the main industry of this area until the 1950s when Salmon populations dropped. Today, tourism, commercial fishing, and the government are the economic mainstay of Sitka, Alaska.
How to get there: The easiest way to travel to Sitka, Alaska is by small airplane. The Sitka Airport is on Japonski Island (connected to Sitka by the O’Connell Bridge). The asphalt landing strip is 6,500 feet long. Fuel is available. The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry Terminal is located on the Halibut Point Road. There is the fast ferry and the regular ferry, both are pleasant ways to travel to and from Sitka to Juneau and Ketchikan.
Once you’ve arrived in Sitka, Alaska there are several taxi services and a bus shuttle available to get you to your destination in Sitka.
Facilities: Sitka, Alaska offers accommodations for every taste. Bed & Breakfasts, the Sitka Hotel, the Westmark Sitka, and others. Call ahead for reservations. Sitka, Alaska has all the amenities—restaurants, a Laundromat, grocery stores, gift shops, clothing, and jewelry stores. The drugstore has an old fashioned soda shop and great ice cream sundaes!
If camping is your style, the U.S. Forest Service operates two campgrounds at Starrigavan Recreation Area on Halibut Point Road and Sawmill Creek Campground on Blue Lake Road. Make reservations ahead of time.
RV info: RVs are welcome in Sitka, but it’s expensive to get them onto the island. Dump stations are located at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Japonski Island. There are two RV parks in the Sitka area. Both parks have water and electrical hookups.