Nestled against the base of White Alice Mountain, Hoonah is the largest Tlingit village in Alaska.
About Hoonah (Tlingit: Xunaa, Gaaw Yat’aḵ Aan)
The town of Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, about 30 miles west of Juneau along Icy Strait in the Inside Passage. The Huna, a Tlingit tribe, have lived in the Icy Strait area for thousands of years. In 1912, the Hoonah Packing Co. built a large salmon cannery north of town. The cannery operated on and off under different ownership until the early 1950s, and it sat shuttered for decades until the local Native corporation, Huna Totem Corp., purchased and rehabilitated the facility to create the private cruise port now called Icy Strait Point.
Things to do
Since Icy Strait Point opened in 2004, Hoonah has attracted more visitors, particularly those who arrive by cruise ships. The port is centered on the restored salmon cannery, which now houses a museum, local arts and crafts shops, restaurants and a mid-1930's cannery line display. Outside is the world’s largest and highest zip line at 5,330 feet long, featuring a 1,300-foot vertical drop. Icy Strait Point offers a range of excursions for visitors, from Native dance performances to bear viewing and whale watching.
Hoonah’s access to the outstanding fishing along Icy Strait also attracts sport fishing and wildlife enthusiasts. Whale watching is considered excellent near Hoonah and humpback and killer whales are often spotted along the shores right in front of town. Sea kayakers are also drawn here for the 40-mile wilderness paddle that follows the shorelines of Port Frederick and Tenakee Inlet from Hoonah to Tenakee Springs. The two inlets are connected by a short portage and the trip ends for many in the Tenakee Springs’ natural hot springs. For more information on sea kayaking and hiking in the area, contact the Tongass National Forest, which manages the wilderness areas around Hoonah.
The whale watching is so good in Icy Strait that visitors often see humpbacks breaching and rolling just on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Hoonah and Pelican.
Icy Strait Point
Built on the outskirts of Hoonah in 1912, Icy Strait Point Cannery was one of the world’s most productive salmon canneries at the time. Today the historic cannery no longer processes salmon but has been completely renovated into a popular cruise ship stop filled with gift shops, restaurants, a museum and a mid-1930's cannery line display. The site offers the only road-accessible brown bear viewing access in Southeast Alaska.
Hoonah lies in a prime location for charter fishing in Icy Strait. Charter boat operators take clients out throughout the summer to target one of five species of salmon; king, coho, sockeye, chum and pink, which are headed to spawn in area rivers and streams. The current Alaska state sport fishing record for the largest coho was hooked in Icy Strait and tipped the scales at 26 pounds. Charter captains also fish for halibut as well as several saltwater species.
In Hoonah totem sites are located in front of the Hoonah City School and at Icy Strait Point. Both feature locally carved canoes and totems.
Hoonah is ideally located for excellent whale watching in Icy Strait and Glacier Bay National Park. Hoonah-based charter boats offer daily trips in the summer that cruise the north shore of Chichagof Island to Point Adolphus to view brown bears and bald eagles along the shoreline and humpback whales, harbor seals, Steller sea lions and Dall porpoises in the surrounding waters.