Sitka has the interesting distinction of having been continuously settled for thousands of years, and thus, for being the oldest city in the Northwest. The city itself is a rich cultural blend of local Native Tlingits and American life, sprinkled with a hearty dose of Russian-colonization-era history. This unique blend of influences makes Sitka a city unlike any other, and while you’re here, it’s best to make the most of this small but culturally rich city.
Day 1: Get to Know Sitka as It Stands Today
Sitka may be tiny, but as you’ve just flown or boated in (no roads connect Sitka to the mainland), you’ve gotten a peek at its surrounding splendor. Today then is best spent getting to know your host town, and there’s no better way to do this than by foot. Sitka’s waterfront and downtown areas are very accessible to the pedestrian, as is the path from Castle Hill to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, so why not spend the day simply walking around town?
Day Two: Delve Deeper
Sitka has a rich history, and this is best represented by its numerous museums. If it’s the history of Sitka’s native peoples you’re after, then perhaps it’s best to spend the day in either the small but friendly Sheldon Jackson Museum, or to walk among towering totem poles in the Sitka National Historic Park along the Coastal Trail. The trail itself is filled with Cyprus and Hemlock, but there’s more than just natural beauty to the park. While here, get your fix of Russian-era Colonialism in the Russian Bishop’s House, which provides a fascinating insight into Alaskan life in the mid 1800s. From there, wrap up the evening at Castle Hill. A short walk for beautiful views of Sitka’s fjord, this is the historic place where Alaska was transferred over to America in 1867.
Day Three: Explore Sitka’s Horizons
You probably spotted it coming in, but Sitka is poised at the doorstep of the great Alaskan outdoors. Don’t pass up this opportunity to get out and see some of the amazing natural beauty Sitka and its surrounding forests have to offer. A good beginning to any introduction to the Alaskan wilderness would be the Alaska Raptor Center, which rehabilitates these birds of prey and offers visitors a chance to see them up-close and personal. After lunch, spend the evening venturing out into old growth rainforest on the Herring Cove Trail (about 1.5 miles each way) that highlights Alaska’s rugged coastline, spectacular views, and even a glittering waterfall awaiting you at trail’s end.