Indigenous heritage meets Russian history
In the shadows of the dormant, snow-capped Mount Edgecumbe, sits the quaint city of Sitka. The only community within Alaska’s Inside Passage to skirt the Pacific Ocean, Sitka’s lush green hills and salty ocean air stand in contrast to typical descriptions of the Last Frontier.
Sharing an equally important historical connection for the native Tlingit people and Russian settlers, Sitka is both the ancestral homeland of the Tlingit and the former capital of Russian America. A walk around the city’s downtown brings you closer to its history with views of the Blockhouse, Russian Bishop’s House, St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and the storied Castle Hill. Sitka’s many museums, art galleries, and cultural centers all offer a more in-depth view of the city’s past and present. Stop into the Sitka Historical Museum, Sitka Cultural Center, and Shee-tka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House to see photographs, artifacts, traditional art, and native dance performances. Nearby, Harrigan Centennial Hall showcases regular performances by the New Archangel Russian folk dancers.
Aside from its eclectic history, Sitka offers a fantastic variety of outdoor adventures for the nature lover. Its narrow passages and broad bays are a haven for an incredible array of marine life that includes humpback whales, sea lions, and of course, salmon. Take a boat cruise around Sitka’s coast, or rent a kayak to experience each rocky nook and cranny. On land, you’ll find plenty of opportunity to bike, hike, and explore the beautiful mountains and tall spruce of the Tongass National Forest. Visit the Fortress of the Bear and the Alaska Raptor Center to get an up-close look at orphaned brown bear cubs, injured bald eagles, and other birds, and learn about both centers’ commitment to serving Alaska’s wildlife. With so much to see and do, the only thing you have to worry about is taking it all in.