a   l   a   s   k   a   j   o   u   r   n   e   y   .   c   o   m
Kodiak & the Alaska Peninsula
AlaskaJourney Home

Kodiak & the Alaska Peninsula

Introduction

Kodiak

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Afognak, Raspberry & Shuyak Islands

Katmai National Park & Preserve

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary

Becharof National Wildlife Refuge

Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve

Chignik

Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge

Sand Point

King Cove

Cold Bay

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge


Kodiak

Location/Climate: On the northeastern tip of Kodiak Island, 250 miles south-southwest of Anchorage. 74"/yr. precip., 14°F–76°F.

Population: 7,620 (12.7 percent native, mainly Sugpiaq Eskimo and Aleut). Kodiak Station Coast Guard Base hosts an additional 2,000 people, while 4,000 more live north of town around Monashka Bay.

Travel Attractions: Access to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and Afognak Island (Chugach National Forest); kayaking, flightseeing, bear viewing.

Getting There: Scheduled air service from Anchorage and Homer; scheduled ferry service from Homer and Seward.

Information: Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 1485, Kodiak, AK 99615, 486-5557; Convention and Visitors Bureau, 100 Marine Way, Kodiak, AK 99615, 486-4782, www.kodiak.org, kicvb@ptialaska.net.

Before Russian explorers brought disease and conflict to Kodiak, the island may have been home to 20,000 Alutiiq (Sugpiak) Eskimos, whose ancestors had lived there for perhaps 9,500 years. Grigorii Shelikov established a non-native settlement for the Russians in 1784, just south of Old Harbor on Three Saints Bay. Alexander Baranof, commissioned to manage the Russian-American Company, was based at the settlement, but moved it to its present location after an earthquake and tidal wave devastated the original site in 1792. He named the new settlement "Pauloysk"—today it’s called Kodiak. The town served as the capital of Russian Alaska for a decade.

With the purchase of Alaska by the United States, Kodiak’s economy shifted from fur harvesting and whaling to salmon fishing. In 1912, Novarupta Volcano erupted across the strait, ejecting 6 cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere, blacking out the town for three days, and depositing a layer of ash as much as 2 feet deep over much of Kodiak Island. During World War II, the town be-came a major base for military operations, remnants of which can be visited at Fort Abercrombie and elsewhere. The 1964 quake severely damaged the Kodiak waterfront. Visitors can’t miss the cannery made from a World War II liberty ship given to the town to help reestablish commerce after the quake.

Commercial fishing, fish processing, and related services are still the mainstays of the Kodiak economy. The city also hosts hunters, sport fishers, and adventure travelers, though it is not a stop on the cruise circuit. Kodiak offers access to sea-kayak routes and small-plane access to bear-viewing areas, drop-offs, and backcountry lodges. With miles of barren ridges and empty bays to be found beyond the town, Kodiak Island hearkens to the stark beauty of the Aleutians more than to the forested isles of Prince William Sound or the Southeast.

Kodiak’s short but helpful road system enables access to the coast and eastern valleys at several points. Multiday, ridgeline backpack routes can be devised that connect roads, allowing you to save money on flights. The relatively sheltered waters of Ugak Bay to the south and Kizhuyak Bay to the north are accessible by road for kayak put-ins. Consult outfitters, pilots, refuge managers, and topo maps when devising routes (see the Appendix).

Kodiak-Area Attractions

Attractions in Kodiak include the following:

Alutiiq Museum—This new museum exists to preserve the language and culture of Kodiak’s native peoples. Excellent touring exhibits are featured, and local archaeologists are on hand to answer questions. 215 Mission Road, 486-7004, www.alutiiqmuseum.com.

Buskin River State Recreation Site—This popular camping- and fishing-access park is geared to salmon seekers. It’s located at the mouth of the Buskin River, within a mile of the airport. Take Rezanof Drive 4 miles south from downtown. Call the state parks office for details, 486-6339, www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/kodiak/buskin.htm.

Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site—Here you’ll find the remains of a World War II military installation and a rugged coastline with several trails. This popular site has a campground, group recreation site, and overflow parking for RV campers. It’s located 4 miles north of downtown. A designated bike path covers the entire distance. Call the state parks office for details, 486-6339, www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/kodiak/ftaber.htm.

Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church—Originally consecrated in 1794 and reconstructed for the fifth time in 1949, the church is a Kodiak landmark and the oldest orthodox parish in the state. A replica of the original church can be seen at the seminary on Mission Road near Island Bridge. Call for information on tours and services. 385 Kashavarof Street, Kodiak, 486-3854.

Kodiak Baranov Museum—Located in the Erskine House, a designated National Historic Landmark, the museum holds an interesting collection of Aleut, Koniag, Russian, and American artifacts. Built in 1808 as a secure magazine- and storehouse, the Erskine House is one of four original Russian structures remaining in the United States. 101 Marine Way, 486-5920. Open mid-May–Labor Day Monday–Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends noon to 4 p.m.; call for winter hours.

Pasagshak State Recreation Site—This small, riverside park with a campground is located 40 miles south of Kodiak and is a popular fishing spot. It’s also a good kayak put-in for access to Ugak Bay and the Kodiak south coast. Take Rezanof Drive west out of town for 30 miles, then turn right on Pasagshak Road just past the Kalsin River and drive 9 miles. Contact the state park office for more information, 486-6339, www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/kodiak/pasagshak.htm.

Where to Stay in Kodiak

Best Western Kodiak Inn, 236 Rezanof West, (888) 563-4254, 486-5712, kodiakin@ptialaska.net, www.kodiakinn.com. Expensive, but best place in town; restaurant, lounge, views. Tour-booking desk on site, friendly staff. Rooms: $140–$210 in Summer, $115 to $195 in Fall, $90 to $180 in Winter.

Shahafka Cove Bed and Breakfast, 1812 Mission Road, 486-2409, rwoitel@ptialaska.net, www.ptialaska.net/~rwoitel. Waterside with deck, near town center.

Wintel’s Bed and Breakfast, 1723 Mission Road, 486-6935, wintels@ak.net, www.wintels.com. On the water near shops and more. Rooms from $75 to $110 plus tax.

Zachar Bay Lodge, (800) 693-2333, 486-4120, zbay@ptialaska.net. $375 per person (meals, guides), $1,700 for four nights (air shuttle, meals, guides). Located in an old salmon cannery; caters to hunters, fishers, and bear viewers. BL

Where to Eat in Kodiak

El Chicano, 103 Center Avenue, 486-6116. Full Mexican menu, steaks, and burgers.

Henry’s Great Alaskan, 512 Marine Way, 486-8844. Good food and camaraderie right across from the small boat harbor.