Overview: One look at Sitka and you’ll know why Alexander Baranof, governor of the Russian American Company, decided to build his “castle” here. Framed by views of island-studded waters and the elegant profile of volcanic Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka is considered to be Alaska’s most beautiful coastal community. And, there is much evidence on display to showcase the town’s fascinating history and blend of cultures: Tlingit art and totem poles, Russian architecture, and the remains of WWII-era military fortifications now being reclaimed by the rainforest. Commercial fishing is the town’s number one industry, but Sitka is also known as world-class destination for those who want to view and learn about the area’s variety and abundance of wildlife, including sea otters, whales, brown bears and puffins. Sitka is home to about 9,000 people.
Location: Sitka is situated on the western shore of rugged Baranof Island, one of the three largest islands in the Alexander Archipelago. Sitka is the only community of any size that is located right on the outer coast of SE Alaska. It is not possible to access Sitka by road; sea and air transportation are the only way to get here. And, because of its remote setting – even by Alaska standards! – Sitka only receives about 25% of the cruiseship visitors who come to Alaska.
Climate: Like all communities located in the Tongass National Forest, part of the largest temperate rainforest on earth, Sitka does not generally have a shortage of water; the town receives about 85 inches of annual precipitation, mostly in the form of rain. The average summer temperature in Sitka is about 60°F, and the average winter temperature is around 32°F.