For nature lovers few places on earth compare with the wonders of Southwest Alaska. Brown bears amble along the hills and plains, and more than 240 bird species inhabit Alaska”s Southwest region. The region”s terrain ranges from a landscape of volcanoes in Katmai National Park created by the 1912 eruption of the Novarupta volcano, to the windswept Aleutian Islands that make a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia.
Kodiak Archipelago: Kodiak is the principal town on Kodiak Island and the home of Alaska”s largest fishing fleet. From 1792 t 1799, the town of Kodiak was the capital of Russian America and it shows in the Russian Orthodox Church and the Baranov Museum - formerly a fur storehouse and one of Alaska”s oldest wooden structures. The original inhabitants of Kodiak were the Alutiiq people - 7,000 years later their descendants still live on the island. Attractions include the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository and traditional Alutiiq lifestyle. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is famous for its brown bears - one of the world”s largest carnivorous land mammals.
Alaska Peninsula: The Alaska Peninsula extends 550 miles into the Pacific Ocean. In the west, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve offers a wilderness of seacoast, mountains, glaciers and lakes filled with trophy-sized rainbow trout. King Salmon is the gateway to the exciting Katmai National Park and Preserve, an excellent place to view brown bears. Katmai”s striking landscape was created by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta Volcano.
Aleutian Islands: Past the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands begin their 1,000-mile sweep towards Asia. These incredible windswept islands, now the location of numerous national wildlife refuges, were the theater for a 19-day battle between Japanese and American troops in May of 1943. Unalaska was the early headquarters of the Russian American Company and center of the sea otter fur trade in the 1700s. The fishing fleet found in Dutch Harbor holds the distinction of leading the nation in quantity and value of landed catch. Visitors to the area can enjoy exploring two examples of early Russian churches and World War II military sites that include a vast network of bunkers and pillboxes.
Bristol Bay: Bristol Bay is home to the world”s largest source of red salmon. The salmon are enticed by the area”s rich, freshwater spawning streams that flow into nearby rivers and bays. Many cultures meet in this land including Eskimos, Aleuts and Athabascans. Visitors can find delights in all seasonal activities - fishing in the summer, skiing in the winter and cultural events year-round. The parklands and remote sites that make up the area are accessed only by floatplane or boat.
Bethel: A commercial center and medium-draft port on the Kuskokwim River, is the largest bush (rural) community in Alaska. An Eskimo trading center in the 1870s, Bethel is still a marketplace for Eskimo ivory carvings, baskets and other craft items. The town”s Yupik Cultural Center features Native exhibits and demonstrations of dancing and carving. Bethel”s Visitor Center and Museum Annex is called Yugtarvik, meaning ‘a place for people”s things.’ The center offers exhibits of traditional Native tools and clothing, a collection of vintage photos, Native art classes and a gift shop.
Pribilof Islands: Visitors can fly from Anchorage to see the world famous wildlife colonies on St. George and St. Paul Islands in the Bering Sea. Over 240 bird species, including colorful puffins and a nesting population of 2.5 million birds make it the largest known sea bird colony in Western Hemisphere. St. Paul”s beaches also play host to an amazing number of fur seals. Settled by Aleut Natives, the islands were used by Russian fur traders to search for sea otters and fur seals.