In the small village of Angoon, on the west side of Admiralty Island, noises and distractions of the city fade away, and are replaced by the endless quiet of old-growth forest and the tides lapping on the shore. A visit here puts you right in the heart of the pristine Tongass National Forest and offers incredible variety, with history, fishing, insight into Native Tlingit clan culture, breathtaking views, and close access to one of the densest populations of brown bears in the world.
The people here rightly called this area Xootsnoowú (Kootsnoowoo), or “Fortress of the Bears.” An estimated 1,600 brown bears inhabit Admiralty Island, which is also known for dense populations of bald eagles and Sitka black-tailed deer.
Angoon is home to around 450 year-round residents, which increases in summer with visitors who want to fish, recreate and enjoy the city’s culture, history, forested paths and laid-back lifestyle. Many of the people you will meet while in town are Native Alaskans of the Tlingit tribe, which has been in this area for more than 1,000 years. Their culture thrives through day-to-day subsistence activities, special potlatches and community celebrations.
Things to do while in and around Angoon:
Spend a day or two on the water. Jig for halibut, fish for salmon. You’ll likely see porpoises, sea otters, sea lions and perhaps orca too. Humpback whales never disappoint, putting on a show nearly every day, as they bubble-net feed on krill and breach in powerful acrobatic displays
Join a tour of the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area to see brown bears frolicking and feasting on salmon in the swift waters of Pack Creek.
Stroll miles of beaches to see what the tide brings in (most desired: Japanese glass buoys). Beach types are varied, including sandy, shale, pebble and clay.
For independent travelers: explore the 32-mile water trail between Angoon and Seymour by kayak or canoe.
Watch for a variety of birdlife, including many eagle nests, seagulls, ravens, and crows, a great population of kingfishers, a wonderful array of different hummingbirds, sparrows, swans, and migrating geese.
Walk along Beavertail Road to view many traditional Clan houses and their totems.
Bonus! Angoon is considerably sunnier than other locations in Southeast Alaska, including Juneau and Sitka. Locals know when there’s rain just 55 miles away in Juneau, there are often blue skies over Angoon.
Know before you go:
Services are limited to a general store for sundries and snacks. Two lodges offer packages with all-inclusive food and charters. Besides their dining halls, there are no restaurants, so if you are traveling independently, you’ll want to stock up in Juneau before you arrive.
Angoon is accessible by ferry twice a week or daily floatplane. From Juneau, the ferry is a five-hour trip, followed by a 3-mile trek into town. By seaplane, it’s a 30-minute trip. You’ll land on the water and taxi to the floatplane dock, which is about ¼ of a mile from town. Learn more about traveling to Angoon.