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What Are The Best Activities To Do In Icy Strait Point, Alaska?

Icy Strait Point in Alaska is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventurous activities. Whether you crave adrenaline, revel in wildlife, explore culture, or seek tranquility, this destination caters to every taste and interest, from the thrill of the world's largest zipline to the serene experience of whale watching.

Jan 25, 20241.8K Shares93.4K Views
Icy Strait Point, nestled on Chichagof Island near Hoonah in Alaska, is a remarkable travel destination, capturing the essence of Alaska's wilderness and cultural richness.
This privately-owned cruise port, managed by Alaska Natives, serves as a gateway to experiencing the Best Activities to Do in Icy Strait Point, blending adventure with authentic cultural immersion.
Its strategic location, just 30 miles west of Juneau, offers easy access to breathtaking natural landscapes, including Glacier Bay.
Renowned for its deep-rooted Tlingit heritage, Icy Strait Point provides an unparalleled opportunity to engage with the local community, making it more than just a scenic stopover.

Adventure Activities And Excursions

A hub for adventure seekers, it offers various thrilling activities and excursions tailored for various skill levels.
One of the highlights is the ZipRider, touted as the world's largest zipline. This exhilarating ride, stretching approximately 5,330 feet with a descent of 1,330 feet, offers breathtaking views and speeds up to 60 mph.
Open to diverse age groups and skill levels, this escapade involves a 90-minute exploration of the Adventure Park, navigating through obstacles like log bridges and intricate fishermen's nets. Kayaking in the calm waters of Port Frederick is another popular activity, suitable for beginners and experienced paddlers alike.
Operators like Hoonah Kayak offer guided tours and provide safety instructions and equipment. These tours, lasting 2-3 hours, allow close encounters with the area's rich marine life, including eagles and perhaps whales.

Wildlife Watching Opportunities

Icy Strait Point is a wildlife enthusiast's paradise, offering exceptional opportunities to observe Alaska's diverse fauna in their natural habitat. Whale watching is a prime attraction, with tours typically guaranteed to spot these majestic creatures, especially from May to September in the summer.
The nutrient-rich waters around Icy Strait Point become a haven for humpback whales, making areas like Port Adolphus ideal for sightings. Tour operators offer charter boat excursions, providing an intimate experience with these gentle giants.
Bear spotting is another sought-after activity, given that Chichagof Island boasts one of the world's highest concentrations of coastal brown bears. The Spasski River Valley, in particular, is a popular spot for bear tours.
These tours, often lasting around four hours, are conducted by knowledgeable local guides who take visitors through various bear habitats, offering a safe and informative viewing experience.

Cultural And Historical Attractions

It is a hub for adventure and a rich repository of cultural and historical treasures, offering visitors a deep dive into the native Tlingit heritage.
A focal point of this cultural exploration is the Native Heritage Center, where visitors can immerse themselves in the Tlingit culture. The center showcases traditional regalia, art, and historical artifacts, providing a vivid narrative of the Tlingit people's history, customs, and way of life.
Another significant site is the Historic Cannery Museum, located at the restored 1912 Hoonah Packing Company building. This museum offers a glimpse into Alaska's salmon industry, a lifeline for the local community for over a century.
The exhibits display ancient fishing and canning equipment, offering insights into the industrial process and its evolution.
The Carving Hut in Hoonah is a unique attraction where visitors can witness Tlingit artisans skillfully carving totem poles and hear stories about their meanings and role in Tlingit culture.

Local Culinary Experiences

The culinary scene at Icy Strait Point is a delightful journey through unique Alaskan flavors, emphasizing fresh, locally sourced seafood.
The region's dining establishments, from casual eateries to more upscale restaurants, offer a taste of traditional and contemporary Alaskan cuisine. A must-visit is the Duck Point Smokehouse, renowned for its house-smoked salmon.
With a backdrop of breathtaking vistas of Port Frederick, this restaurant presents an array of culinary delights, from seafood stews to delectable grilled halibut sandwiches. Their signature dishes often feature fresh crab, a local specialty, providing an authentic taste of Alaskan seafood.
For a more traditional experience, the Hoonah Beach House, located in the nearby village of Hoonah, is known for serving fresh Dungeness crab sourced directly from the bay..

Fishing And Marine Life Exploration

The waters around Chichagof Island are teeming with a rich variety of fish, making it an ideal spot for fishing expeditions.
Charter services like Icy Strait Point Stream Fishing Tours offer guided fishing adventures and provide equipment and expertise.
Depending on the season, these tours typically target salmon and trout, possibly catching pink salmon, chum salmon, cutthroat trout, dolly varden trout, or steelhead.
While most tours are catch-and-release, some charters, like halibut tours, might allow participants to keep their catch, offering a complete fishing experience.

Nature Trails And Hiking Routes

Icy Strait Point and its surrounding areas offer a variety of nature trails and hiking routes, each boasting unique scenic beauty and opportunities to observe local flora and fauna.
These trails cater to various difficulty levels, ensuring that novice and experienced trekkers find something to suit their preferences.
One of the most accessible trails is the Icy Strait Point Nature Trail. This one-mile loop is relatively easy, with less than a 200-foot elevation gain. Ideal for families and casual walkers, the trail offers stunning views of the island and its waterways.
Hikers can observe local plant life and spot wildlife, such as Sitka black-tailed deer, along the way.

Photography And Scenic Views

To make the most of your photography excursion, here are some top spots and tips:
Port Frederick Bay: This area is perfect for capturing marine life, including whales, and the serene waterscape. Morning or late afternoon hours provide softer light for vivid shots.
Nature Trails and Hiking Routes: Trails like the Icy Strait Point Nature Trail offer lush greenery and wildlife. The gentle, diffused morning light filtering through the trees creates an ideal setting to capture the essence of nature and photograph wildlife at its peak activity.
Three Rocks Area: Strolling towards Hoonah, the scenic Three Rocks emerges as an excellent location for landscape photography, particularly during the captivating moments of sunrise or sunset, when the light gracefully dances on the water.
Historic Cannery and Beachfront: The restored cannery, with its historical architecture, and the beachfront areas provide a mix of cultural and natural photography subjects.

Shopping For Local Crafts And Souvenirs

Shopping at Icy Strait Point offers a unique experience, particularly for those interested in local crafts and authentic Alaskan souvenirs. The area is known for its rich Tlingit heritage, reflected in the variety of unique items available.
Warehouse Shops at the Cannery: The restored cannery at Icy Strait Point houses several warehouse shops. These stores are treasure troves of locally made arts and crafts. Visitors can find various items, including traditional Tlingit carvings, handcrafted jewelry, and custom-made apparel.
Carving Hut in Hoonah: For those interested in authentic Tlingit art, the Carving Hut in the nearby village of Hoonah is a must-visit. Here, shoppers can witness the creation of totem poles and purchase various carved items, each with its own story and significance.
Local Gift Shops: Various gift shops in and around Icy Strait Point and Hoonah offer a selection of souvenirs ranging from postcards and printed t-shirts to more unique items like locally sourced sea glass jewelry and hand-woven baskets.

Community Events And Festivals

Enriched with a vibrant cultural heritage, the area hosts diverse community events and festivals, each celebrating the traditions and lifestyle of the local Tlingit community and the broader Alaskan culture. While specific dates and events may vary yearly, here are some types of events visitors can look forward to:
Tlingit Cultural Festivals: These festivals, often held during the summer, celebrate Tlingit culture with traditional music, dance, and storytelling. Visitors can experience live performances in Tribal Dance Theater, witness ceremonial gatherings, and engage in cultural workshops. These events offer a vibrant and authentic insight into the rich history and traditions of the Tlingit people.
Salmon Festivals: Given the region's history with salmon fishing and canning, salmon festivals are common. These events typically feature salmon tastings, cooking demonstrations, and educational exhibits about the local salmon industry. They are a great way to understand the significance of salmon in the local economy and culture.
Music and Food Festivals: Celebrating Alaska's diverse culinary scene and musical talent, these festivals offer a mix of live entertainment and local cuisine.
Wildlife and Nature Festivals: Focused on the rich natural environment of Alaska, these festivals might include guided nature walks, wildlife photography workshops, and educational talks by local experts.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation options at Icy Strait Point cater to various preferences, ranging from cozy bed-and-breakfasts to more immersive lodging experiences. Here's an overview of the types of accommodations visitors can expect:
Local Bed-and-Breakfasts: The nearby village of Hoonah offers charming bed-and-breakfast establishments. These typically provide a homely and intimate atmosphere, often run by locals keen to share their knowledge of the area.
Lodges and Cabins: For those yearning for a more rugged encounter, numerous lodges and cabins await. Positioned in picturesque locales, these accommodations offer breathtaking views of the natural beauty. They range from basic to more upscale, with some offering amenities like guided tours and fishing excursions.
Hotels in Hoonah: While options are limited, there are a few hotels in Hoonah. These offer standard hotel amenities and are a good choice for visitors who prefer a more conventional lodging experience.
Unique Wilderness Retreats: For a truly unique experience, wilderness retreats are located in remote areas around Icy Strait Point. These retreats often offer packages that include wildlife viewing, fishing, and cultural experiences, providing an immersive Alaskan experience.
Cruise Ship Stays: Since many visitors arrive via cruise ships, staying onboard is a common and convenient option. This provides easy access to Icy Strait Point's various attractions and activities.

Practical Tips For Visitors

Visiting Icy Strait Point is an exciting experience. Still, it requires some practical considerations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are essential tips for visitors:
For exploring Hoonah and nearby areas, there are shuttle services, and some accommodations offer transport. Renting a car is also an option for more flexibility.
Alaska's weather can be unpredictable. Layered clothing is recommended to adapt to changing conditions.
Waterproof and windproof jackets are essential, as rain is common.
Light clothing for warmer days and a jacket for cooler evenings are advisable for summer visits.
Wear sturdy, comfortable footwear for hiking and walking trails.
Bring binoculars and cameras with zoom lenses for wildlife watching and fishing excursions.
Sunscreen and insect repellent are must-haves, especially during summer.
Ask for permission before taking photographs of people or certain cultural items.
Check the operating hours of local shops and restaurants, as they may vary, especially during off-peak seasons.
It's wise to carry cash, as some smaller vendors may not accept credit cards.


How Can I See Wildlife In Icy Strait Point?

Whale watching, ziplining on the world's largest zipline, exploring the historic cannery museum, engaging in cultural experiences like the Tlingit cultural festivals, and enjoying local seafood delicacies.

What Cultural Experiences Are Available At Icy Strait Point?

Visit the Native Heritage Center, attend Tlingit cultural festivals, and explore the Carving Hut in Hoonah to learn about local art and traditions.
Yes, from the easy Icy Strait Point Nature Trail to more challenging trails around Chichagof Island, there are many hiking options for all abilities.

What Varieties Of Fish Might One Reel In During A Fishing Tour?

Depending on the season, you can catch pink salmon, chum salmon, cutthroat trout, dolly varden trout, or steelhead on guided fishing tours.

What Should I Bring For A Day Visit To Icy Strait Point?

Wear layered clothing for changing weather, sturdy footwear for walking or hiking, a camera for wildlife photography, sunscreen, and insect repellent for summer visits.


Icy Strait Point in Alaska is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventurous activities.
Whether you crave adrenaline, revel in wildlife, explore culture, or seek tranquility, this destination caters to every taste and interest, from the thrill of the world's largest zipline to the serene experience of whale watching.
The engaging cultural insights at the Native Heritage Center, and the delightful local culinary offerings, Icy Strait Point encapsulates the spirit of Alaska uniquely and unforgettably.
The variety of accommodation options ensures a comfortable stay, whether you prefer a cozy bed-and-breakfast or an immersive wilderness retreat.
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