“Surf City, Alaska”? That’s right. Yakutat, located in the northern reaches of the Inside Passage region, made at name for itself in the late ‘90s as the first Alaska town with a surf shop, but there’s plenty more to see and do here for visitors.
Life in Yakutat is rich with the culture of the Native people of the area, which are a mixture of the Eyak of the Copper River Valley to the north and the Tlingit of the Inside Passage area. Here the elders share their knowledge and wisdom through storytelling in the local community gathering place. Yakutat was established as a Russian fort in the late 1700s, and like much of the region, later saw gold mining, fur and timber booms. Today fishing drives the economy.
Things to do
Isolated on the strand that connects the Inside Passage to the rest of Alaska, Yakutat has gained the increasing attention of visitors. Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in the world, is a mere is 30 miles away. The 76-mile-long glacier captured national attention by galloping across Russell Fjord in the mid-1980s, turning the long inlet into a lake. Eventually Hubbard receded to reopen the fjord, but the glacier did it again in 2002 and came close in 2008. The eight-mile-wide glacier is easily Alaska's most active. The entire area, part of the 545-square-mile Russell Fjord Wilderness, is one of the most interesting places in Alaska and usually accessed through flightseeing or boat tours available in town.
For fishermen, there are 12 public-use cabins available through the Tongass National Forest. Many are near rivers and lakes that are renowned among sport fishers for their trophy salmon, steelhead trout and Dolly Varden, even by Alaska standards. The Situk River, 12 miles south of town by road, is often rated as one of Alaska's top fishing spots. The Tongass National Forest can provide information on seasons, rivers, cabin rentals and local fishing guides.