The Emerald Isle - Kodiak, Alaska
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Out of the roughly 2,670 named islands in the Last Frontier, Kodiak takes the cake when it comes to size. It’s the largest island in Alaska (3,595.09 square miles), and the second largest in the United States, falling just behind the Big Island of Hawaii. Home to around 14,000 permanent residents spread across seven communities, visitors love being able to enjoy utter peace and quiet (away from the crowds) while discovering this rugged, untamed wilderness. The recreational activities in the area are seemingly endless. Learn more below about all the great reasons to visit Alaska’s Emerald Isle of Kodiak. [caption id="attachment_9379" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Andrew Petersen[/caption]
1: Wildlife viewing is a very popular activity in Kodiak. Each summer season, visitors flock to the Emerald Isle to feast their eyes on the renowned Kodiak brown bear, said to be the largest in the entire world. Other popular wildlife viewing includes multiple species of birds, harbor seals, sea otters, Sitka black-tailed deer, mountain goats, and much more. [caption id="attachment_9376" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Paul[/caption]
2: Tour museums amid magnificent scenery. Wonderful local options that are sure to fill you with local history and culture include the Kodiak Maritime Museum, Baranov Museum/Kodiak Historical Society, and the Alutiiq Museum. The Baranov Museum is located in the oldest building still standing in Alaska. [caption id="attachment_9375" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - J. Stephen Conn[/caption]
3: Another exceptional place to soak in some historic charm and phenomenal views is the Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park. On the northeastern shore of Kodiak, only three miles north of the city of Kodiak, these 182-acres of land are a great place for hiking, backpacking, tent and RV camping, kayaking, beachcombing, and fishing. Explore remnants from the past as many historic ruins from a World War II coastal defense installation still remain throughout. [caption id="attachment_9369" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Andrew Petersen[/caption]
4: The fishing opportunities in Kodiak are, simply put, out of this world! Angling addicts can choose from a wide variety of experiences, including charter boats, fish camps, float trips, and even remote wilderness excursions. Enjoy hitting the salt and/or freshwater without having to deal with the massive crowds that you’ll find on the road system. Reel in halibut, salmon, and so much more. The pristine, prolific streams found in Kodiak are unlike anything else in the world. [caption id="attachment_9377" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service[/caption]
5: If you enjoy hunting, Kodiak is sure to pack a mean punch of epic proportion. Hunting for brown bears and Sitka black-tailed deer are among the most popular sport hunting opportunities that the Emerald Isle has to offer. [caption id="attachment_9370" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service[/caption]
6: If you’re looking for reasons to visit the island of Kodiak, the view from the top of Pillar Mountain is reason enough. The trail to the top of Pillar Mountain is a 2.5-mile hike (one way), which leads to an alpine summit overlooking the city streets of Kodiak and wide-spread vistas. Soak in great views as the majority of the trail is situated above treeline. The wind turbines on the mountain are a part of the “Pillar Mountain Wind Project,” which is an initiative to have 100% renewable energy in town. While this hike is not easy, it’s one that is sure to not disappoint. [caption id="attachment_9374" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Damian Manda[/caption]
7: If you love to explore, Kodiak is truly a recreationists nirvana. Area activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, birding, and even scuba-diving. You can do a little bit of everything on the second largest island in the United States! [caption id="attachment_9371" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service[/caption]
8: Soaking in a brilliant northern lights show from Kodiak is nothing to snuff your nose up at. The dancing colors of the aurora borealis add enchanting perspectives to this already-beautiful island destination. [caption id="attachment_9372" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Andrew Petersen[/caption]
9: Since Kodiak can only be reached by sea or air, there is a great chance of seeing spectacular scenery while traveling to the island. Access via plane is the quickest way to get where you’re going. Another great option is via the M/V Tustumena or the M/V Kennicott ferries on the Alaska Marine Highway. [caption id="attachment_9378" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - J. Stephen Conn[/caption]
10: Just when you thought you’d seen it all, it doesn’t stop at just discovering Kodiak. Many folks are attracted to this unique area from all around the world because it is vastly wild, rugged, and untouched. The Kodiak archipelago offers several other wilderness destinations such as Raspberry Island, Near Island, Whale Island, and more… all just a short float plane ride away. [caption id="attachment_9373" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Cindy Trussell[/caption]
Looking for more where that came from? Check out Shemya Island - Exploring In Remote Island. You might also enjoy Alaska's Admiralty Island - Home To North America's Highest Density of Brown Bears. Also, don't miss these 17 Jaw-Dropping Alaska Airport Runways That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat.
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Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Paradise undiscovered — fortunately! Beautiful photos and descriptions. Thank you.
Kodiak has always had a special place in my heart as I was born there in 1925 and I have never forgotten the beauty of the ‘village’ at that time.
Lovely pictures.so many memories of growing up while view them. Thank you.