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Go Alaska Tours | Alaska Travel Guide - Sitka



Sitka, Alaska
 
Sitka, the only major city on Alaska's Baranof Island, is the beneficiary of three distinct cultures: Tlingit Indian, Russian and American. You'll find relics of all three cultures throughout the area. With the spectacular natural beauty of Sitka Sound, its fascinating history, unique totem park and Mount Edgecomb - a dormant volcano which rises above the harbor - Sitka is definitely a treasure in the Alaskan wilderness.

Alaska capital Juneau, is 95 miles away by air. Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is 592 air miles away. Seattle is a quick 862 air miles. The climate is mild, averaging 34 degrees in January to 61 in July. Our rainfall averages close to 90 inches a year with snowfall at nearly 40 inches a year.

History

The beautiful town of Sitka is one of Alaska's most historic locales.  For centuries it was home to the Tlinget Indians of Southeast Alaska.  As early as 1775, European explorers ventured into the waters near Sitka, describing with precision the volcano that Capt. Cook, in 1778, named Mt. Edgecumbe.

By the mid-1790's, Sitka's waters were filled with ships trading with the Tlingets for the luxuriant pelts of sea otter.  Alexander Baranof, who would, in 1799, establish the Russian American Company in Sitka, first sailed into Sitka in 1795, and New Archangel soon became a center of the Russian fur trade.

The ceremony transferring Alaska from Russian control to the United States of America took place at Castle Hill, in downtown Sitka, in 1867. Sitka reigned as the capital of the District of Alaska from 1884, when the District was established, until 1894 when the government removed to Juneau. Today, Sitka boasts a rich cultural heritage steeped in Russian and Tlingit Indian traditions.

Things to do

The onion dome of Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a Sitka landmark, and the Sitka National Historical Park commemorates the site of the Battle of Sitka between the Tlingit Indians and the Russians in 1802. Mysterious and majestic totem poles dot the 1.5-mile trail through the park.

June is a wonderful time to visit Sitka. The festival is a major attraction, but there are many other things to do including world-class fishing, wildlife viewing, wilderness hiking, beachcombing, and boating. Performances of Russian and Indian dance are held almost daily during the summer months. Visit the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center to witness first-hand the work being done to save injured Bald Eagles and other birds of prey.  Browse through the Isabel Miller Museum, which traces Sitka's history, and the Sheldon Jackson Museum, which showcases Native Alaskan art and culture.  Sheldon Jackson College often hosts an Elderhostel Program during the Festival and the Island Institute presents the annual Sitka Symposium with invited authors and guest lecturers.
 
 

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