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YAKUTAT AREA

Yakutat Bay         

The Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America & is located at the head of Yakutat Bay.  The glacier is 75 miles long, has a face 6 miles wide and up to 400 feet high.  It is one of the most active glaciers in the world.  It has been known to travel up to 36 feet in a single day. Hubbard Glacier continues to advance and threatens to close off the entrance to Russell Fjord which will turn it into a freshwater lake. If this happens, the water is expected to eventually overflow into the Yakutat Foreland creating a braided river system that will overtake the Situk River and its tributaries. Just west of Yakutat the Malaspina Glacier appear as a huge white ice field and is part of what makes the Yakutat area the most glaciated area of North America.

Yakutat is on Monti Bay on the south shore of Yakutat Bay approximately 2 miles from its mouth. Monti Bay is the only sheltered deep water port within 100 miles.  Barges, the Alaska Marine Highway System ferries and other cargo and fish processing vessels use this port regularly to deliver goods, pick up supplies & transport visitors to the area.  Monti Bay is bordered on the northwest side by Khantaak Island, the site of the original village of Yakutat.

Just outside of this island is some of the best early season fishing for the wily silver salmon. From Yakutat to the north & east are an array of islands that create protected waters for exploring, fishing opportunities, & wildlife viewing from charters, skiffs, & kayaks.

Fish for halibut, ling cod, black cod, king salmon, & silver salmon in Yakutat Bay from charters or rental skiffs. Unlike many other Alaskan destinations, fishing for halibut in Yakutat is usually just 40 minutes from the dock in 50-200 feet of water. While seeking the large flatfish, by-catch can be ling cod, black cod, & even salmon. On your charter day, choose to make salmon fishing your priority and land a nice king salmon or box 6 silvers for each person on the boat.

For more information about Yakutat, call the lodge at 907-784-3245 & order “The Place in Alaska Called Yakutat” on DVD for $13 & plus $5 shipping/handling. Thank you to Ted Heikell, writer, producer, & moderator of the DVD for information about Yakutat.
 

Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains and National Park

The highest coastal mountain range in the world with 7 of the highest ten peaks in North America, this mountain range sits to the north of Yakutat and is visible from Leonard’s Landing Lodge.  The largest of the mountains is Mt. St. Elias which soars 18,008 feet from the ocean to the clouds making it the second tallest peak in the United States.  The Danish explorer Vitus Bering first saw Mt. St. Elias emerge as fog lifted and named it in honor of the Danish holiday, St. Elias Day.  In the Tlingit language, the mountain name is Was-eiti-shaa meaning “Mountain in Icy Bay.” Another peak, Mount Logan has the most massive summit in the world, with a ridge top extending for more than 10 miles.  Climbers seek out this mountain range for the adventure of climbing the tremendous wilderness peaks.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve was established in 1980. With 13.2 million acres it equals the area of 6 Yellowstones.  The park offers opportunities for all kinds of wilderness activities such as sightseeing, flight seeing, fishing, hunting, river floating, kayaking, & more.

At 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the nation’s largest national forest.  It is comprised of forest, mountains, lakes, streams, muskegs, & glaciers. The mild, wet climate provides the correct conditions for the largest old-growth temperate rainforest. The Forest Service office in Yakutat offers sale of maps & plenty of information on wildlife and hiking.

 

Yakutat area inland

Drop a drift boat in at the upper end of the world class Situk River & spend a day in the Alaskan wilderness with the wildlife. Fish your way to the lower end where your transportation will take you back to the lodge. Why not hire a drift boat guide so you can concentrate on fishing and enjoying the scenery? This trip is a good idea for your first trip to Yakutat as it gives you the opportunity to learn more about this amazing river.

 

As an alternative to drifting the Situk you can drive to the upper or lower end and hike to the best fishing holes. The trails are well-maintained with little elevation for easy hiking. You will quickly find your favorite fishing spots.

The banks of the local rivers, the Situk along with the Lost River and Tawah Creek and River are home to grizzly bears and moose who visit the rivers for their bounty.  River otters play along the shore as do minks and ermine. Bald eagles fly overhead as they tend their nests and many other Alaskan bird species can also be seen.

The 25 mile drive to the Dangerous River provides access to Harlequin Lake which is fed by the Yakutat Glacier.  Icebergs floating in the lake are viewable from the first ever “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska (there was originally a plan to connect Yakutat to the road system through Haines) that crosses the Dangerous River. Or hike the trail to the lake itself for the best sight of blue icebergs that float on the lake before finding their way down the glacial silt filled river towards the ocean.

Astounding collections of wildflowers border the route to the Dangerous River.  The best spectacle of color and species are in full bloom in late July. Take along your Alaskan wildflower field guide for identifying all the varieties. Keep your eyes ready to see the wildlife that lives along the road.

Fly outs

Book a charter and fly for the day to one of many destinations that are less than an hour away. The Italio, East, and Akwe Rivers are located south and east of Yakutat and all have a strong runs of silver salmon in the fall. The Akwe and East also produce king salmon.  North of Yakutat, the Tsiu River has an excellent silver salmon run in the fall. These brief flights also offer the opportunity to view the spectacular scenery along the way. The next large bay off the Gulf of Alaska, Icy Bay is a breathtaking area of glaciers, mountains, and icy blue water. Take some time there to view wildlife, explore by kayak, or do some hiking.

 

          Ask more about these areas when booking your trip to Yakutat.

 

 

 

 

               Above photo courtesy of Cliff & Nancy Hollenbeck
 
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