region of Alaska, USA
(Redirected from Alaskan Panhandle)
North America > United States of America > Alaska > Southeastern Alaska

Southeastern Alaska is sometimes called the Alaska "panhandle". It consists of a thin strip of land and islands between Canada's British Columbia and the northern Pacific Ocean. It includes the Inside Passage, a series of waterways largely protected from the Pacific by islands, providing a safer sea route up and down the coast.

Alaska Panhandle

Regions edit

Map of Southeastern Alaska

Cities edit

Because of the rugged coastal mountains surrounding Southeast Alaska, only three SE Alaskan communities (Haines, Skagway, and Hyder) are connected by road through Canada to the lower 48 states. All the other SE Alaskan cities, including those on the mainland, are effectively "island" cities, reachable only by air or by sea.

  • 1 Yakutat – Gateway to Hubbard Glacier
  • 2 Pelican   – settlement on Chichagof Island
  • 3 Gustavus – Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park
  • 4 Skagway – Old mining town rich in history, is also the main link to the Alcan highway and Whitehorse, BC. Home of the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.
  • 5 Haines – eco-friendly historical town, popular with hikers, fisherman, rafters, and snowmobilers. Connection to Alcan highway. Few cruise ships visit Haines making it more quaint.
  • 6 Juneau – State capital and third largest city. Home to Mendenhall Glacier & a handful of museums. Popular cruise ship port.
  • 7 Hoonah   – small native Alaskan village, home to Icy Strait Point, which is a cruise-tourism attraction offering the worlds longest zip-line and bear watching tours.
  • 8 Sitka – A popular stop for ferries and few cruise ships, rich in Russian colonial history. Site of 1867 handover from Russia to USA.
  • 9 Petersburg – fishing village with a strong Norwegian heritage on Mitkof Island
  • 10 Wrangell   – Gateway to the Stikine River, on Wrangell Island
  • 11 Thorne Bay   – accessible via float plane and ferry from Ketchikan. A beautiful place with great fishing and good lodging available
  • 12 Hyder – easternmost settlement in Alaska; isolated, only accessible by road from Stewart, BC. You can't travel to anywhere in the United States from Hyder. There are no border controls for the U.S. if you cross into Hyder. If you go back into Canada there is one, so bring a passport at all times. They unofficially use the time zone of British Columbia, use Canadian dollars, use Canadian phone numbers, and use Canadian fire and ambulance services. You can fly to Ketchikan from a seaplane base, but you need a passport when you arrive in Ketchikan.
  • 13 Ketchikan – Alaska's southernmost and fourth largest city, gateway to Alaska for northbound travelers on inside passage. Very popular cruise ship port.

Other destinations edit

Understand edit

Get in edit

Due to the physical terrain and the lack of contiguous roads, getting in by air or by sea are the only ways for travelers to reach the southeastern region and for locals to receive mail, food, supplies, vehicles and other needed items (by air, ferry or barge).

By plane edit

By ship edit

  • The Alaska Marine Highway System connects the southeast from Prince Rupert BC to Bellingham WA on two separate routes, and is the primary way of getting around via the Inside Passage. During the summer, they offer onward sailing across the Gulf of Alaska to/from Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula in South Central Region. The vessels are capable of carrying vehicles.

By car edit

See also: Winter driving
See also: Driving between the contiguous United States and the Alaska Highway

Despite the steep terrain there are highways through the Yukon Territory and British Columbia to reach Southeastern Alaska by car. Keep in mind that the roads are in remote sparsely populated areas with limited services that are further apart with the roads impassable during the winter months. Travelers must be sure to have proper travel documents to cross into Canada and re-enter the United States:

  •   &   Klondike Highway Connects from its northern terminus with YT-Hwy 1 at Carcross Cutoff (19.7 km east/southeast of Whitehorse) to Skagaway. It is 175 km between Whitehorse and Skagaway.
  •   &   Haines Road connects 148 mi (238 km) between Haines and Haines Junction in the Yukon Territory, east of Kluane National Park. It is the nearest route to a direct highway connection between the southeastern panhandle and the Interior of Alaska via Alcan/Beaver Border crossing on YT-Hwy 1/AK-Hwy 2. It is a total of 640 mi (1,030 km) to reach Fairbanks from Haines.
  •     The Yellowhead Highway connects Prince Rupert to   in Prince George. From here one can go north to the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, continue east into the rest of Canada, or go south towards the Lower 48. See the Pan-American Highway article for an outline of possible routes one can take to reach the Lower 48. This is the nearest road to Southeast Alaska from the Lower 48. From Prince Rupert travelers would still have to board a AMHS ferry to continue north into Southeastern Alaska.

By train edit

Get around edit

There is very limited overland access from outside the region, meaning that for all practical purposes, the panhandle might as well be an island. Due to the high fjords and rocky shorelines, there are very few roads in this part of Alaska. Most villages are linked by State funded ferry service - The Alaska Marine Highway, as well as seaplane and land plane service.

By plane edit

  • Alaska Airlines "Milk Run". connects Anchorage to Seattle through multiple cities/towns in southeastern Alaska in a point to point routing paradigm called the "milk run". Except Juneau not all cities/towns are included on the same schedule. Other destinations included on the "milk run" are Gustavus (GST IATA), Ketchikan (KTN IATA), Petersburg (PSG  IATA), Juneau (JNU IATA), Sitka (SIT IATA), Wrangell (WRG  IATA), and/or Yakutat (YAK  IATA). See schedules.

The following are local companies that provide service in smaller float planes to access more communities with the ability to land on water or on land. They can also be chartered (as "bush pilots") to go to a specific location:

  • Alaska Seaplanes, +1 907 749-3331. They serve Angoon, Elfin Cove, Excursion Inlet, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Juneau, Kake, Klawock, Pelican, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Tenakee Springs, Whitehorse in different route combinations
  • Harris Air, +1 907 780-6449. They serve Gustavus, Juneau, and Sitka
  • Ward Air. Juneau to Excursion Inlet.

By sea edit

Juneau is the hub for the Alaska Marine Highway System, offering frequent trips to Haines, Skagway, and Sitka; with less frequent ferries to Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan. Many smaller villages get service only once or twice a month. Haines & Skagway have links to the Alcan Highway, and many travelers opt to drive to these two points to catch the daily ferry to Juneau and then on to other destinations; Prince Rupert also has frequent ferry service (3 times a week) to Ketchikan and Juneau. Ferry service from Bellingham links most of the larger villages/towns, however it only operates twice a month in the winter and three times a month in the summer; space fills up quickly so reservations need to be made far in advance.

  • Haines Skagway Fast Ferry (HSFF), +1 907 766-2100. makes the :45 min. passage through Taiya Inlet of Lynn Canal, between Haines and Skagway on a passenger only vessel. It is NOT part of the Alaska Highway System and is operated by a private company.
  • Inter-Island Ferry Authority. connects Hollis on Prince of Wales Island to Ketchikan (nearest port for the Alaska Marine Highway System).

By car edit

  •   serves as the main north-south highway through Southeastern Alaska. Due to the steep terrain and the many fjords and sounds cutting through the area the highway does not traverse the entire area but in segments. Travelers would still have to use the ferries to get across longer distances. Everywhere else there are various local roads connecting the cities and towns with each other and to access certain wilderness areas and local neighborhoods. In other areas travelers will have to charter a plane or have access to a private boat to get to a remote park, camping spot or a lodge as they are not accessible by road.

See edit

Do edit

  • Mendenhall Glacier – free to the public (visitors center has a small entry charge) this is one of the most visited glaciers in the world. Explore the miles of trails around Mendenhall Lake, or get up close by hiking the West Glacier trail. Located in Juneau.
  • Mount Roberts Tram – take Southeast's only tram up nearly 2,000 ft (610 m) above Juneau and enjoy breathtaking views, wine & dine at the restaurant, or hike one of the many trails accessible from the tram at the top. Located in Juneau.
  • 1 Icy Strait Point. – located in Hoonah

Eat edit

Drink edit

Juneau has a few popular bars, notably the Viking, Imperial, and Alaskan – all of which are open year round. The Red Dog Saloon, however, is the most popular but is only open during the busy summer season.

Stay safe edit

Go next edit

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