This rocky, mountainous and remote island is Alaska’s best place for observing and photographing Pacific walruses as they rest on the rocky shorelines in the hundreds or even thousands during summer. Part of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary located in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Round Island also provides nesting habitat for tens of thousands of seabirds including puffins, murres, kittiwakes and others; and is home to Steller sea lions and many other terrestrial and marine wildlife. While walruses are generally present from May to August, their numbers taper off as summer progresses so try to visit from late May to mid-July when the weather is also generally better (but that’s relative – coastal weather in southwestern Alaska is often breezy and wet). Visiting is only for the adventuresome as it involves travel in small planes and boats, and overnight stays on the island involve camping in a remote setting; but for those willing, it is an unparalleled wildlife and wilderness experience.
Getting Here: The sanctuary is managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and more information on visiting is available at www.walrusislands.adfg.alaska.gov. Travel to the sanctuary involves a commercial flight from Anchorage to Dillingham, a local commuter flight to the Village of Togiak (25 minutes), and then a 35 mile boat taxi to the island. There are tent platforms and a cook shelter on the island but you’ll have to bring your tent, camping gear, and food, and be prepared with extra supplies for potential delays due to storms and weather.