Yakutat, the northernmost community along the Inside Passage, is somewhat isolated, which is exactly what many visitors are looking for. For those who do venture to Yakutat, the scenic setting alone is worth the trip. Surrounded by lofty peaks including Mt. Elias at 18,114 feet to the west and Mt. Fairweather at 15,388 feet to the east, Yakutat is nestled in stunning beauty. To the northwest lies the large Malaspina Glacier, the largest piedmont glacier in North America.
Nearby Hubbard Glacier captured national attention in1986 by galloping across Russell Fjord at an amazing speed, turning the long inlet into basically a lake. For much of the year scientists and geologists set up camp to monitor the unusual event and media attention was focused on a group of trapped seals. Eventually Hubbard receded to reopen the fjord but to this day the eight-mile-wide glacier remains one of the most active in Alaska. The rip tides and currents that flow between Gilberts Point and the face of the glacier, a mere 1,000 feet away, are so wicked and strong they cause Hubbard to calve almost continuously at peak tides.
Besides the incredible surroundings, Yakutat's primary attraction is outdoor recreation. Steelhead fishing is considered among the finest anywhere and king and silver salmon run in abundance in Yakutat area salt water, rivers and streams May through September. The Situk River, 12 miles south of town by road is one of Alaska's top fishing spots.
The spectacular coastline of Yakutat Bay is also a favorite among sea kayakers. On land, surrounded by miles of sandy beach, beachcombing provides endless hours of entertainment, with Japanese glass balls blown onshore by Pacific storms a coveted find. The balls are used as floats for fishnets, but make for a great Alaska keepsake.
Surfing Yakutat has risen from obscurity to almost mainstream, drawing more and more surfers each year. Outside magazine named Yakutat one of the top five U.S. surf towns. Many locals have taken up the sport and many, including pros, make an annual pilgrimage each year to surf the waves of Yakutat, some to heights of 25 feet. The waves are decent, surf pros say, but they visit mostly because Alaska is an exotic change from the sunny surf sites in California, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Yakutat also boasts one surf shop.
Location: Yakutat is isolated among the lowlands along the Gulf of Alaska, 225 miles northwest of Juneau and 220 miles southeast of Cordova. It is at the mouth of Yakutat Bay, one of the few refuges for vessels along this stretch of coast. The Hubbard and Malaspina Glaciers are nearby.
Access: Daily scheduled jet service, air charter and private boat.
Accommodations: Three lodges, two bed and breakfasts, cabins, one restaurant.
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