Learn about Sitka, Alaska by reading Sitka, Alaska –
Wildlife All Around You! by Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer. It
features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all
you'll need to know to plan your trip including getting there,
objective information on places to stay and eat, and things to do.
At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact
information for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Sitka, Alaska - Wildlife All Around You!
by Sandy Zimmerman,
Travel Writer and WTA Member
Imagine a place
surrounded by the beauty of nature, snuggled right on the shores of the Pacific
Ocean. A setting so calm and picturesque, you will forget everything but the
urge to explore this wondrous place.
Step back in time
to the land of the TlingitIndians (pronounced
Klinket). Sitka is one of the few places where Native Americans have influenced
the entire town. Perhaps it is because the Tlingits have lived continuously in
Sitka for over 50 centuries. Out of Sitka’s 8,500-person population, 3,200 are
natives. Take this opportunity to meet these friendly Tlingit Indians and
experience their culture.
Sitka Tribal Tours
brings you into the world of the Tlingits, telling stories of their past. Sitka
National Historical Park, or Totem Park, is the perfect start for your tour. You
will see several fascinating totem poles at the entrance to the park. Each totem
pole is different; each tells a story of an event identifying their families’
poles range as high as 65’
tall while the average measures between 35’ and 40’ tall.
Every Tlingit is a
member of either the Raven or Eagle groups (referred to as moieties).
This is a matriarchal society in which the mothers make the decisions, and
marriage was formerly allowed only between persons from opposite moieties.
You can enjoy easy
hiking paths running through 113 acres of rainforest scenery and historic
points. The highlight of your stay, the Visitor’s Center and Southeast Alaska
Indian Cultural Center immerses you into the Tlingit culture. Watch Tommy
Joseph, a Tlingit Indian of the Kaagwaantaan Clan, as he carves ceremonial
masks, totem poles, and helmets out of large pieces of wood. See native weavers
prepare garments and rugs. This is your chance to speak to the artists, and ask
them questions. These artists explain and teach the techniques of their art to
the Indians and the public. Within the building are more examples of spectacular
cedar totem poles and a professional museum of historical exhibits.
community house Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi provides clan families a gathering
place for special occasions. Listen to the exciting rhythms of the drums while
the Indians perform dances of early days. The costumes, the dancer’s movements,
and the animal sounds, all make the folklore of the past come alive. Look on the
back of the dancer’s costumes to see the signs of their clans. During the last
dance, the Tlingit’s invite the audience to join their dance. After the show,
you can meet the dancers and take photos with them.
Visit the Sheldon
Jackson Museum, the oldest museum in Alaska. This museum houses the largest
collection of artifacts representing Alaska’s native cultures gathered between
Indian carving mask
SITKA TOURS opens
the doors to the past! Their unique bus excursions visit historical highlights
of this former Czarist Russian Capital city. See the site where the 1804 Battle
of Alaska was fought in the Sitka National Historical Park, the Russian Bishop’s
House, Castle Hill, Block House, boat harbors, and St. Michaels’ Cathedral to
see religious artifacts and priceless icons dating back to the 16th
century. It began in 1799, when the Russians saw their opportunity to engage in
Sitka’s lucrative otter fur trade. Alexander Baranof paved the way for them to
become the most profitable fur traders in the world. In 1867, the Russians sold
Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million at a transfer ceremony in Sitka.
One of the highlights of this tour, the Russian New Archangel Dancers preserve
Sitka’s Russian heritage. See exciting Russian, Byelo Russian, Moldavian,
Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian dances. The show is a mix of authentic
costumes, intricate steps, and interesting stories.
Whale Park is
dedicated to Sitka’s wildlife with information plaques, boardwalks to the ocean,
gazebos, trails, and viewing platforms. This is also home to whales and sea
lions along the shore. The park has Radio Hydro-Phones underwater in order to
tune into the whales. You can listen to the station on your car radio or the
radio in your room. Nearby, try the easy Thimbleberry hiking Trail or more
difficult Beaver Lake trail. Choose several areas for picnicking.
When I took a
cruise along Alaska’s Inside Passage, the M/V Caledonia luxury motor
yacht was surrounded by nature’s unspoiled wonderland. I felt as though I had
just stepped into an untamed wilderness, a frontier opening for us to discover
and enjoy. I was surprised to suddenly see black and brown bears fishing along
the shore, American Bald Eagles flying above me, and porpoises jumping around
our yacht. Each hour brought different experiences! As the yacht traveled north
from Sitka, almost everywhere I looked, sea lions, whales, sea otters, and more
and more wildlife appeared. We seldom see such an abundance of these beautiful
creatures roaming free. One of the biggest thrills is being so close that we
feel we can almost touch them.
wildlife from the boat is not enough! Co-Owners Captain Bob Stephens and First
Mate Penni Manns plan trekking safaris so their passengers can really experience
the wilderness. They are happy to give suggestions or allow their passengers to
decide which activities they would prefer. The itineraries are personalized for
fishing, wildlife photography, kayaking, exploring, sightseeing, or . . .?
Imagine, taking a romantic 2-person kayak into the wilderness. Or get aboard the
hard-bottom inflatable. Its
50 HP outboard motor gives a
smooth effortless ride.
Sitka has been
known for breaking fishing records. Captain Bob says, “It’s not whether you will
catch fish, but when.” These waters are fruitful with halibut weighing over 100
pounds and an abundance of the biggest salmon in the world. Let members of the
crew scout the best routes for experiences you’ll never forget. This is the safe
way of indulging yourself, becoming one with nature.
With 20-25 years
experience, Captain Bob and First Mate Penni know how to satisfy their
passengers. It is an action packed trip with excitement around every corner.
Expect the unexpected! You are “special” because there are only 8 passengers to
pamper instead of thousands. And they do pamper you! This is like having your
own private yacht! As you travel through the wilderness of Alaska’s Inside
Passage, the meals are fit for royalty. Captain Bob and First Mate Penni have
lured Chef Bryan Winters away from Colorado’s famous Broadmoor Resort and he
prepares all of your meals on their 4-6 night cruises!
Hotel’s Raven Dining Room has captured the essence of Alaska! When you combine
the finest food with the magic of Executive Chef Joanne Michalski, the result is
as explosive as the 4th of July! I would describe our dinner as a
feast more than just a meal. Dining in the best hotel in Sitka- a small town of
only 8,500 people, we were surprised to find a first class gourmet restaurant.
And the hotel has Chef Joanne to thank for that! Her carefully fused Caribbean,
southwest, and Alaskan cuisines please people from around the world. With 28
years experience, she has learned to be creative.
Don’t walk past
Ludvig’s Bistro! This little storefront restaurant is the “hot spot” of Sitka,
and their historic Tlingit Indian building blends in with its surroundings. Get
ready to spend 2 hours dining leisurely on some of the most fantastic rustic
Mediterranean fare, delightful original creations of co-owners Colette Nelson
and Lisa Bower. Dine Alaska-style while listening to gypsy or Spanish music.
Colette has been influenced by her college years studying in Spain and traveling
in the Mediterranean.
View of the Eddystone
B&B Inn from the ocean.
Photo courtesy Tyler Eddy
It is the
combination of staying in a secluded forest on a private peninsula along with
the rustic buildings and wonderful views that make the Eddystone B&B Inn so
spectacular. Yet, you will find it difficult to believe, that the Inn is only a
few minutes from downtown Sitka. The Eddystone B&B Inn is all of that and more!
Nature’s exciting show continues all year. You will have a front row seat when
the whales make their way south. If they are close, you might even get wet from
their spray! Sea lions and seals play just a few feet from the porch; otters and
minks run across the rocky shore. Watch for eagles soaring above you, or for
their white heads in the trees. Yes, there are even a few bears around. Host
Tyler Eddy and his family invite their guests to “Step into the wilderness from
the comforts of our home.” You can see nature from the guest rooms, from the
living room’s wall of 11 picture windows, the long front porch, the
boardwalk-viewing center, and while walking around the grounds. Guests can meet
other guests, sit by the fireplace, cook, and enjoy the entire home.
Sitka has 2 direct flights daily from Seattle and Anchorage. Alaskan
Airlines - 800-252-7522
- Car Rentals
North Star Rent-A-Car: The most reasonable of Sitka’s car rental
agencies, Star is in the airport at baggage claim - 800-722-6927.
Tribal Tours: They offer several tours, which are entertaining and
educational ($30-57), 200 Katlian Street, http://www.sitkatours.com/ 907-747-7290.
Tours: Choose from several different tour itineraries. Bus Sitka
Sightseeing Tours: (2-? hours) $25- adults, $12.50- child. Bus Sitka
Sightseeing Tour and Raptor Eagle Center: (3 hours) $33- adults,
$16.50- child. Historic Sitka Sightseeing Tour and Nature Walk: (2-?
-3 hours) $28- adults, $14- child. P.O. Box #1000, Sitka, Alaska
- Alaska &
NW Charter Cruises: The yacht sleeps 8 adults and 4 children. Join
other passengers or charter the entire yacht yourself. Cruises from
May to September. Special 10% discounts for anyone booking August
Places To Eat
Westmark Sitka Hotel’s Raven
Dining Room: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 330 Seward
- Ludvig’s Bistro: Walking distance from
downtown Sitka, reservations are suggested after 5 pm. Open
Monday-Saturday, 2- 10 pm, Sunday, 2-6 pm. 256 Katlian Avenue.
Places To Stay
Eddystone B&B Inn: Each Alaskan themed (Artic, Russian, Wilderness
and Ocean) guest room is different. The 2 two-bedroom beach cottages
are surrounded by trees and only 15’ from the ocean.
Free all-you-can-eat breakfast.
For information about rates- $85-250, off-season discounts, weekly
or monthly specials, call 907-747-3313, 2398 Sawmill Creek Road.
storyteller James Michener wrote Alaska, his stirring tale
tracing the history of Alaska and the Tlingit Indians.
The Sitka Convention and Visitor’s
Bureau calls Sitka, “Your Alaskan treasure!” They offer free
information and advice about tours, sights, wildlife, restaurants,
shopping, charter fishing, the Tlingit Indians, Russian folk dances,
festivals, entertainment, cruising along the Inside Passage, and
everything that makes Sitka so exciting! 303 Lincoln Street,
This information is current as of July 2005. It is recommended that you contact
the numbers, and/or visit the web sites above to determine any changes to the