Located on what is thought to be the best sockeye (red) salmon river in the world and adjacent to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge on Kodiak Island, the Alutiiq village of Karluk is an outdoorsperson’s paradise.
Karluk is located in a dramatic setting overlooking the mouth of the Karluk River and Shelikof Strait and surrounded by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. A community of just a few dozen people and one of only two villages on the west side of Kodiak Island, Karluk is an ideal entry point into the refuge where anglers can easily access some of the best salmon fishing in Alaska.
Archaeologists believe the Karluk River has supported the subsistence fishing of local Alutiiq Natives for more than 7,000 years. The rich runs of salmon led Russian traders to establish a trading post on Karluk Lagoon in 1786 and within a few years, tanneries, salteries and canneries were being built in the area.
Things to do
Known for being the greatest sockeye salmon river in the world, the Karluk River also supports king salmon, Dolly Varden, steelhead and rainbow trout fisheries. A few miles inland, Karluk Lake also has spectacular fishing.
Most visitors pass through Karluk on the way to fishing lodges or other adventures in the adjacent Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge, which covers two-thirds of Kodiak Island, is renowned for its fishing and opportunities to view the legendary Kodiak brown bear. Males average around 800 pounds, but have been known to exceed 1,500 pounds. Approximately 2,300 are found within the boundaries of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 180 to 200 of these bears use the 236 mile square Karluk Lake drainage, one of the densest populations of bears in the world.
Karluk is a photographer’s delight. The influence of the Russian traders can still be seen at the Ascension of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Chapel, built in 1888, and designated as a national historic site. The church features an unusual half-onion dome, typically seen in Russian architecture, and a spectacular cliff-and-ocean backdrop.