What is the Inside Passage?
Southeast Alaska consists of a chain of islands stretching along the Western Coast of Canada. This is the “Alexander Archipelago,” which stretches 300 miles from Juneau to the Queen Charlotte’s and contains approximately 1,100 islands. The “Inside Passage” is the popular term for the route any ship would take as the travel north to mainland Alaska. By taking the inside route, ships are protected from the open Pacific.
The Misty Fiords is a National Monument and wilderness area administered by the US Forest Service. The fjords were formed by glacial activity some 60 million years ago. As the glaciers moved, they cut vast fjords through the short mountain range stretching through Southeast Alaska. This activity helped create the archipelago that defines Southeast’s beautiful topography.
Where is the Inside Passage Located?
The Inside Passage is a long, 500-mile stretch of land along Alaska’s southeastern coastline. It also extends 100 miles inland. The passage contains the state’s capital city, Juneau, as well as small towns and fishing villages mostly situated on islands. The passage gets quite a bit of traffic during the summer as visitors travel by land and water to see the Passage’s small islands, waterways, and preserved lands. Cruises take passengers along the Passage’s dramatic coastline, but those who prefer to get around on their own can rent a car or take planes between islands. From fishing to sight-seeing, there are many great reasons to include a visit to the majestic Passage if you’re planning a trip to Alaska.
Points of Interest Along The Inside Passage
Wildlife and Natural Beauty
Winding your way through the Passage, you’ll find diverse topography that includes towering snow-capped mountains, glaciers, rushing rivers, quiet inlets, and densely wooded forests. In the spring and summer, the mountain valleys come alive with colorful wildflowers. In the fall, cooler air turns the landscape dramatic shades of orange, red, and yellow. Offshore, the waters of the Passage are alive with marine life including seals, whales, dolphins, and hundreds of fish species.
Where to go Fishing
On your way through the Passage, you’ll have the opportunity to stop and explore many great spots. If you’re here in summer and want to try your hand at fishing, there are several good places to check out. One is Ketchikan on the southeastern shore. Ketchikan is called the “Salmon Capital of the World” for its prize-winning king salmon that can weigh more than 50 pounds! To get the full experience, consider going on a chartered fishing expedition with an expert guide.
The History and Culture Of Alaska
If you want to get a glimpse of the state’s history and culture, there are several locations worth visiting. The days of the Gold Rush are still alive in Skagway, which has over 15 preserved buildings from the Gold Rush days. Although the frenzy of miners moving to Skagway ended by the year 1900, the town has continued to attract visitors looking to get a glimpse of a past way of life. Another town to check out for a bit of history is Angoon. Angoon is the place that the Kootznoowoo Tlingit Tribe calls home. This quiet town is located on Admiralty Island. Wildlife that you may encounter on Admiralty Island includes brown bears and black-tailed deer. The town is also home to one of the largest populations of bald eagles in North America. Angoon is also a place to go if hiking and spending time outdoors are high on your list of priorities. The town is part of the Tongass National Forest, which offers scenic hiking trails as well as cultural relics of the Tlingit tribe.
Off the Beaten Path
In a place like the Inside Passage that caters to summer tourists, you might be wondering if there’s a place to escape the crowds. If so, a visit to the town of Yakutat is essential. The town is situated on a stunning harbor with towering snow-capped peaks in the background. Yakutat attracts hikers and outdoor enthusiasts with its coastal mountains. In its coastal mountain range is Mt. Logan, which is the second-tallest peak in the nation. The town is more remote and therefore not as heavily trafficked as other small towns. Locals try to keep it that way, but they’re friendly to visitors.
With miles of stunning scenery, small fishing towns, prime wildlife viewing, and world-class fishing, the Inside Passage is a place you won’t want to miss on your Alaska adventure. Whether you travel a portion of the passage or explore the whole coastline, you’ll be in for an unforgettable journey.