Sitka National Historical Park
At only 113 acres, Sitka National Historical Park is Alaska's smallest national park but hardily one lacking for scenic beauty or an intriguing history. Located at the mouth of Indian River, within easy walking distance of downtown Sitka, the park preserves the site where the Tlingits were finally defeated by the Russians in 1804 after defending their wooden fort for a week. The Russians had arrived with four ships to revenge a Tlingit raid on a nearby outpost two years earlier. The Russians' cannons did little damage to the walls of the Tlingit fort and, when the Russian soldiers stormed the structure with the help of Aleuts, they were repulsed in a bloody battle. It was only when the Tlingits ran out of gunpowder and flint, and slipped away at night, that the Russians were able to enter the deserted fort.
The area became a national monument in 1910 and Sitka National Historical in 1972 to commemorate the Battle of Sitka. But in preserving the battlefield, the park also preserved a lush temperate rainforest and a rocky coastline that gives way to the island-studded waters and mountainous horizon that makes Sitka one of Alaska's most beautiful seaside towns. Such a setting and the unique mingling of Tlingit culture and Russian history make this one of Alaska's most unusual national parks.