Sitka is a city of about 9,000 on the Pacific Ocean coast of Baranof Island in Alaska. First settled by Tlingit Aboriginal people, Sitka also has history as a Russian settlement, established in 1799 by Alexander Baranoff of the Russian American Company, which became the Russian capital of Alaska. In 1867, when Russia sold Alaska to the US, the transfer ceremony took place on Castle Hill at Sitka on October 18, a day celebrated as Alaska Day. Sitka now attracts about a quarter million visitors a year.

St. Michael's Cathedral spire

Get in edit

On the outer waters of Alaska's Inside Passage, on Baranof Island, Sitka is accessible only by air and by sea.

By plane edit

  • 1 Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT  IATA), 605 Airport Rd, +1-800-426-0333. Sitka enjoys daily jet service by Alaska Airlines from Anchorage and Seattle-Tacoma. Alaska Airlines also operates to Juneau and Ketchikan. Alaska Airlines operates Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 jetliners. Delta Connection operates seasonal service to Seattle/Tacoma with Canadair CRJ-700 or Embraer 175 regional jet operated by SkyWest Airlines.    

Sitka Tours +1 907-747-8443 provides an airport shuttle to the downtown area or to any accommodations. May–September, $6 one-way; $8 round-trip.

By sea edit

See also: Alaska Marine Highway
  • Sitka is a popular port of call for many cruise ships that sail the Inside Passage from May through September. The majority of large cruise ships dock at the 2 Old Sitka Dock at Halibut Point, about 6 mi (9.7 km) north of the downtown area. From the dock, you'll take a free 15-min shuttle bus ride to Harrigan Centential Hall in downtown Sitka. When the dock is in use, cruise ships anchor offshore in Crescent Harbor, and smaller boats are used to tender passengers ashore to the Crescent Harbor Lightering Facility (near the Centennial Hall) or the O'Connell Bridge Lightering Facility (at the foot of Castle Hill). The town has a free municipal Wi-Fi system that was paid for by the docking fees that the cruise ship pay.
  • Alaska Marine Highway, +1-800-642-0066. The Alaska Marine Highway ferries provide year-round service for passengers and vehicles. Although you can not drive to Sitka by land, the Alaska Marine Highway ferries can get you and your vehicle there.

Get around edit

Map of Sitka

On foot edit

The downtown area of Sitka can be explored by foot. A walking map [formerly dead link] , with two suggested loops, one westward to the Sitka Channel, the other eastward to the Alaska Raptor Center, may be obtained from the Summer Information Desk in the Harrigan Centennial Hall near the Crescent Harbor Lightering Facility. Bring your mobile devices to help you get around downtown; Sitka has a free municipal Wi-Fi system paid for by the cruise ship docking fees.

By bus edit

  • The Ride +1 907 747-7103. Founded by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Sitka Community Ride has been serving Sitka's Community since 2002. Operates three bus lines – Green, Red, and Blue – M–F 6:30AM to 6:30PM. Holidays Observed: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Alaska Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day.

By taxi edit

By bike edit

  • Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, 805 Halibut Point Rd. (downtown, across from Harrigan Centennial Hall), +1 907-747-6317, . Full service bike shop with daily or weekly bicycle rentals.

By boat edit

  • Transit Shuttle, +1 907-747-7290. Runs only on days when there are scheduled to be at least 1000 cruise ship visitors. May–Sep M–F. Shuttle operates one hour after ship arrives in port up until ship departure. Stops every 25–30 min at Crescent Harbor Shelter, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska Raptor Center, a downtown stop by Random House, the Tribal Community House, O'Connell Bridge docking area. $10 pp all day pass; $5 pp round trip.
  • Esther G Sea Taxi (Sitka Wildlife Adventures), +1 907-747-6481, +1 907 738-6481 (cell phone), . Marine transportation to remote locations for hiking, biking, camping and kayaking. Captain Davey Lubin.

See edit

A totem. The top figure is Raven the creator. The human figure represents the first people to settle in Sitka.
  • 1 Sitka National Historical Park, 106 Metlakatla St, +1 907-747-0110. Open year-round: mid-May through September daily 8AM–5PM; October through mid-May: M–Sa 8AM–5PM; closed on Federal holidays during the winter months. There is no food service or lodging in this park. The visitor center is wheelchair-accessible. The Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, totem poles, and museum exhibits are in the building. Exhibits depict traditional Tlingit life. A short video reviews Sitka's history. Over 12 years old $4, under free.    
    • The Russian Bishop's House open mid-May through September daily 9AM–5PM. Ranger-led tours are offered every 30 minutes. October through mid-May open by appointment only. 12 years old $4, under free. This original log structure built in 1843 is one of the last remaining buildings from the Russian colonial period. Not wheelchair accessible.
    • Park Trails open mid-May through September daily 6AM–10PM; October through mid-May daily 7AM–8PM. Free. Walk in a temperate rain forest under towering trees, observe migrating salmon, explore the intertidal zone, and study wildlife. A pleasant walk through the Alaska woods with interesting totem poles interspersed. The Village Watchman, the Raven in Human Form, the Raven and a Bear are some of the figures displayed.
American Flag-Raising Site, Castle Hill
  • 2 Castle Hill. Baranof Castle State Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark. American flag raising site. In 1867, when Alaska was transferred from Russia to the US, the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag raised here. In 1959, when Alaska became the 49th State, the first 49-star American flag was raised here. Once the site of a two-story log mansion known as Baranof's Castle, which overlooked Sitka Sound during the Russian fur trading era. A fully accessible walkway leads visitors to the top of the hill and provides outstanding views of downtown Sitka and waterfront. Interpretive panels provide opportunities to learn more about the history of this site.    
St Michael's Cathedral – back view
  • 3 St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral, 240 Lincoln St, +1 907-747-8120. National Historic Landmark. Constructed 1844–1848, the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel was the principal representative of Russian cultural influence in the 19th century in North America, as the Seat of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of North America, and then as the Seat of the Diocese of Alaska. Although the original was burned down in 1966 and reconstructed, the artifacts inside including the icons were largely preserved from the fire.    
  • 4 The Sitka History Museum (formerly the Isabel Miller Museum), 330 Harbor Dr (downtown), +1 907-747-6455.    
  • 5 Sheldon Jackson Museum (State Cultural & Historical Museum), 104 College Dr (a pleasant walk along Lincoln St. passing Crescent Harbor; museum is on the former Sheldon Jackson College Campus), +1 907-747-8981, fax: +1 907-465-2151. Summer: 9AM to 5PM daily, closed holidays; winter: Tu–Sa 10AM to 4PM, closed holidays. Offering a superb exhibit and collection of Alaskan Native cultural and historical artifacts. The Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson was the moving force behind the construction of the Sheldon Jackson Museum and the collector of many of its artifacts. It is the oldest museum in Alaska, in the state's first concrete building. Construction began in 1895 and it has been occupied since 1897. The building was placed on the National Historical Register in 1972. While the building may be as old as some of the items in its collection, its exhibits reflect a dedication to professional museum standards. The museum's collection has been called a jewel in the crown of Alaska ethnographic collections. $4 summer, $3 winter, under 18 free.  
  • Fortress of the Bear (Brown Bear Education and Viewing Center), 4639 Sawmill Creek Rd (5 mi (8.0 km) from downtown out Sawmill Creek Road; take a taxi, or take a tour), +1 907-747-3032. Summer: daily 9AM–5PM. Winter: F Sa 10AM–3PM. Fortress of the Bear is a non-profit education and rescue center with a three-quarter acre habitat for orphaned Brown Bear cubs complete with covered viewing areas. Also home to the Sawmill Farm. The Fortress has two resident brown bears and may have additional cubs or other bears as rescues occur. Bear cubs are usually housed temporarily at the Fortress until reintroduction in the wild is possible.
  • 6 Sitka Sound Science Center, 834 Lincoln St (1/2 mile from downtown, on the waterfront on the way to the Sitka National Historical Park), +1 907-747-8878, . The Science Center operates an educational fish hatchery and the Molly Ahlgren Aquarium. $5 per person.    
Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center
  • 7 Alaska Raptor Center, 1000 Raptor Way (bordering the Tongass National Forest), toll-free: +1-800-643-9425. May–Sep: Su–F 8AM–4PM. Bald eagles and other raptors from all over the Western United States are treated at this 17-acre facility. See the eagles, hawks, falcons and owls up close. Adults $12, under 12 $6.    
  • 8 Saint Lazaria Wilderness (St. Lazaria Island). Can be seen by boat tour. St. Lazaria is a rugged island with limited and difficult access – ideal for birds to inhabit and to nest. On the island, one can find Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, Leach"s Storm-petrels, Thick-billed Murres, Tufted Puffins, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Glaucous-winged Gulls, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and Black Oystercatchers    
Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka, Alaska
  • 9 Mt. Edgecumbe. A dormant volcano that looks like Mt. Fuji, looms in the background and dominates views to the west.    
Blue Lake Dam spillway
  • 10 Blue Lake. A 3-mile-long reservoir six miles east of Sitka.    

Do edit

  • Tongass Troll, Tours & Taxi LLC, 617 Katlian St, +1 907-738-2458. Go saltwater sport fishing with a friendly local instead of with an over-priced 'monster' lodge.
  • Alaska Seaplanes, +1 907-789-3331. A floatplane flightseeing trip is a good way to get an overview of Baranof Island.
  • Sitka Tribal Tours, 204 Siginaka Way, +1 907-747-3207, toll-free: +1-888-270-8687. Tribal Tours provides a variety of cultural coach tours including a 2½-hr cultural tour and 3½-hr cultural tour w/Alaska Raptor Center. Both tours feature authentic Tlingit native dance performed in classic clan-style house with cedar fire pit.
  • New Archangel Dancers (Russian Dance Performance), 208 Smith St (Downtown Sitka on the waterfront), +1 907-747-5516. Summer: varied times during cruise ship visits. Enjoy a half-hour performance of lively, traditional Russian folk dances. The New Archangel Dancers mission is to promote and encourage interest in Alaska's Russian History and culture through sharing of ethnic folk dance and song. These were evident in Sitka during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Dancers have performed in Japan, Canada, Mexico and Russia, and are considered by many to be ambassadors for Sitka and Alaska. $15.75 (Sep 2023).

Buy edit

Russian and native handicrafts are featured products.

  • Baranof Arts & Crafts Association (Over 30 local artists), Harrigan Centennial Hall - Summer, 330 Harbor Dr (Downtown Sitka), +1 907-747-6536 (summer). Open on cruise ship days. BACA has a summer shop filled with locally made items including: jewelry, paintings, photographs, graphic arts, yarns, books and music, roasted coffee and nuts, ceramics, and assorted crafts. Representing over 30 Sitka artists. Free entrance.
  • Russian-American Company-Random House (Russian and Native Art), 134 Lincoln St (Downtown Sitka), +1 907-747-3354. 9AM–6PM. Museum-quality Russian lacquer boxes and matryoshka nesting dolls are two highlights of our shops. As direct importers, we also offer a large and affordable selection of unique Russian folk art and handcrafts, such as amber jewelry and Zhostovo floral painted trays, brooches, boxes, porcelain and hair clips. Hand painted nesting dolls are priced from under $10 up to $3,000. Authentic Russian lacquer boxes, handcrafted from papier mache and hand painted by the specially trained artists of Fedoskino, Palekh, Mstera, and Kholui, are available from $69 to over $10,000. The Russian American Company is an authorized dealer of contemporary Faberge jewelry. Also offer large selection of Alaskan Native Art: Ivory, whalebone, baleen baskets, scrimshaw, totemic plaques and masks.

Eat edit

There are a nice mix of restaurants in Sitka including: Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese. Despite the town being relatively small, there are about 17 restaurants and a dozen or so other places serving food. The only franchises are McDonald's and Subway.

Drink edit

Bars edit

  • Ernie's Old Time Saloon, 130 Lincoln St, +1 907-747-3334. M–Sa 8AM–2AM, Su noon–2PM. Chips, peanuts, pool table. Live music F Sa nights. Cash only.
  • Pioneer Bar (Known locally as "The P."), 212 Katlian St, +1 907-747-3456. Maritime themed fisherman's bar.

Coffee edit

  • Highliner Cafe, 327 Seward St (backside of Seward Square Mall). Internet cafe with gourmet espresso drinks and freshly roasted coffee, full line of bagels, freshly baked breakfast stuffed croissants, Scandinavian cookies, other pastries.
  • Channel Club, 2906 Halibut Point Rd, +1 907-747-7440. 5PM–9PM. $14–42.

Sleep edit

  • Cascade Inn, 2035 Halibut Point Rd, +1 907-747-6804, toll-free: +1-800-532-0908, fax: +1 907-747-6572, . Sitka's only waterfront hotel, a little over 2 miles from downtown. All rooms have private balconies with views of the Pacific Ocean. Oceanfront sauna and barbecue, laundry and convenience/liquor. 10 rooms. $85–140.
  • Shee Atika Totem Square Inn, 201 Katlian St, +1 907-747-3693, toll-free: +1-866-300-1353, . Right in downtown Sitka, this hotel is within easy walking distance of many of Sitka's attractions. Complimentary continental breakfast, shuttle service, wireless internet, exercise equipment, restaurant, shopping, travel agency, charter agency, charter dock drop off and meeting facilities.
  • Sitka International Hostel (Tillie Paul Manor), 109 Jeff Davis St (at Lincoln), +1 907 747-8661, . Check-in: 6–10PM, check-out: 8:30AM–10AM. 23 beds total (spread across 5 dorms and one private double room). Kitchen and dining facilities. There is a lockout from 10AM–6PM. 11PM curfew; hostel reopens at 8:30AM. Guests assigned one chore each day. Dorms $24 ($15 for children 12 and under), private double room with bath $60.
  • Super 8 Motel, 404 Sawmill Creek Rd, +1 907-747-8804, toll-free: +1-800-800-8000, fax: +1 907-747-6101. Downtown location. Jacuzzi, laundromat, free coffee/toast bar, cable TV, children 12 & under stay free, car packages available in off-season. Pets accepted with permission and deposit. 35 rooms. $80–120.

Go next edit

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