Island Life: Admiralty Island
By Andrew Belonsky
Photograph by Bobby Fisher
It’s all about bears here, the most rugged and beefy of the islands in the Alexander Archipelago off Juneau on Alaska’s coast, just a 30-minute flight or leisurely 2.5-hour ferry ride across the sound. Nicknamed “Fortress of the Bears” long ago by the native Tlingit tribe, Admiralty is home to a clade (animals born from a common ancestor) of 1,600 brown bears that outnumber humans 3 to 1. Voyeurs hoping to see these hairy beasts fishing for salmon should plan a visit between June and September, peak viewing season at Pack Creek. Meanwhile, the island’s other famous furries, including sea lions, seals, and porpoises, can be spied at Mitchell, Hood, or Whitewater bays.
If staying overnight, pitch a tent at a designated campground or stay at the Favorite Bay Lodge in Angoon, the island’s only permanent settlement and the only place you’ll find prepared food on the 90-mile-long island. Angoon is also where you can find tour guides to help you get down and dirty backpacking the Admiralty Island National Monument’s trails, or wet and wild on a 32-mile canoe trip through the parks. If you do camp, make sure your food’s well hung, safely away from bears’ hungry mouths.
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