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Alaska’s version of a Caribbean private island  Around 20 years ago, there was talk of creating a new Alaskan cruise destination, somewhat akin to the private island cruise ports in the Caribbean that had proven so popular. More than one company was said to be developing the concept. The one that came to fruition was Icy Strait Point, owned and operated by the Huna Totem Corporation. Icy Strait Point welcomed its first ship, Celebrity Cruises’ Mercury, on May 23, 2004. Since then, it has become a fixture on southeast Alaskan cruise itineraries. Its position some 30 miles west of Juneau on Chichagof Island, near the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park, puts it right in the path of cruise ships traveling the Inside Passage. Virtually every cruise line operating in Alaska calls here, and it’s not just the obvious megaship names like Princess and Royal Caribbean. Smaller yacht-like luxury ships…

More than you see, fewer than you think peered around a boulder and there they were: a half dozen Dall rams bedded down, the nearest so close I could see my reflection in an amber eye framed by a curl of horn. They turned their heads to regard me but didn’t rise; instead, they gave what seemed to be a collective shrug as I settled in and raised my camera. I spent the next hours among them in the late August sun as they napped and grazed along the edge of that rock-strewn ridge, the air so still I could hear the echoing rush of the creek 2,000 feet below. That afternoon, still vivid after decades, explains as well as any why I came to Alaska: to meet wild animals in big, wild country. Pretty much everyone Alaska-bound hopes, even expects, the same. No doubt they’re out there, millions of…

10 Alaska summer music festivals that will get you groovin’  If winter has you restless, maybe it’s time to plan a roadtrip to one (or more) of Alaska’s summer music festivals. The lineup of multiday events has grown in recent years and offers both Alaskan and national acts exploring a range of genres. For Alaskans, the festivals are community celebrations that offer a break from summer’s busy pace. For visitors, they’re a chance to dive into a local scene, with great music against a backdrop of gorgeous scenery. Here’s a quick sampling of 2024 events. Alaska Folk Festival The music is mostly acoustic, but the atmosphere turns electric as hundreds of musicians descend on Juneau each April for this seven-day festival. It offers nine four-hour performances averaging 15 acts each, along with workshops. The music also runs late-night at bars, restaurants, and even street corners. If you come by ferry,…

Gear Review I got the Regatta Bell Tent intending to use it for glamping on an island near Juneau. My plan was to set it up in the spring on a piece of property my family owns, so my kids and other family members would have a nice shelter for the summer. It was late in the warm season when I got the tent and, since work had me out of town, I wasn’t able to make good on that dream. Instead, just as the late summer rains and winds were coming to southeast Alaska, I pitched it in my backyard. It was quick, easy, one-man set up. My four-year-old promptly moved in and insisted that we sleep in it for the next three weeks. During the day, he, his younger brother, and their cousins spent hours playing in it. White Duck uses a tent fabric they call DYNADUCK. The…

Alaska Native Historian Holly Guise on the Value of Oral Histories Alaska Native historian Holly Miowak Guise (Iñupiaq) reflects on how recorded oral accounts connect Alaskans and incorporate Indigenous voices into today’s historical narratives. “Oral history is a powerful way to reach students, academics, and the public, enabling listeners to connect with a speaker, hear about their life, and perhaps more readily empathize with them. It’s also important for integrating Indigenous perspectives missing from Western archives. Oral histories are meant to be listened to. Even when a transcript is available, it’s best to listen to the audio, which offers human voice, character, intonation, and the interactions between the interviewer and interviewee. Today, websites or YouTube channels allow people to hear oral histories from their homes or classrooms. I created a website, ww2alaska.com, during a postdoctoral year at the University of California Irvine that hosts testimonies from Unangax̂ survivors of relocation…

Alaska’s Other Gold A decade ago in late July, my wife, MC, was picking salmonberries at the edge of the forest on Admiralty Island when she startled a brown bear. I spoke to the bear gently as MC backed away. As we left, we walked past the end of the berry patch, where we had stashed our kayak, to the edge of a meadow where the sea met a stream. Pink salmon leapt continuously into the air. Hundreds, maybe thousands, were schooled up at the mouth of the stream. That evening, we went to retrieve our kayak. Next to its hull lay a bright, silver-colored pink salmon with one large bite taken out of it. Nearly all the salmon we’d watched jumping had begun to mottle with their spawning colors. I knelt over the salmon, pondering why the bear had dropped it there until I sensed the bear was bedded…

Two Alaska Native artists bring new color to the Anchorage streetscape This summer, Anchorage visitors can seek out two new public murals created by forerunners in Alaska Native art. The first is located on G Street on the east side of the RIM Architecture building and was painted by Crystal Worl, a Tlingit, Athabaskan, Yup’ik, and Filipino artist based in Juneau. Worl has emerged as a prominent Alaskan artist whose work is featured in public spaces in Juneau and has appeared as a Doodle on Google’s homepage. Her new mural, completed in August 2022, honors several Alaska Native groups and highlights Anchorage as a cultural gathering place. The second mural graces the The Kobuk building on the corner of 5th Avenue and E Street. Painted by Yup’ik and Inupiaq artist Drew Michael, its vivid colors recreate a mask he carved in 2019 and celebrate the rich cultural traditions of the…

Congratulations to our 2022 photo contest winners. Each image tells a story or captures a slice of Alaska’s unique beauty, adventure, or way of life. This year, we’ve included photographers’ Instagram names so you can follow them online to see even more of their explorations around Alaska and beyond. We hope you enjoy these colorful images from around the Great Land. Grand Prize Winner JENNIFER SMITH @jfogle02 Look for this image on the cover of our February Issue of Alaska Magazine. Categories Alaska Life: Representing Alaskans and/or their way of life, traditions, culture, or authentic “only in Alaska” moments. CLOSE-UPS: Showing the close-up details of anything Alaskan, from nature to people to urban constructs. Scenic: Emphasizing the landscape and scenery of Alaska with or without the human element. Wildlife: Animals native to Alaska (not in captivity). Alaska Life 1st Place JILLIAN BLUM @jillian.blum 2nd Place DAVID NEEL @akwildphoto 3rd Place…

Taku Harbor’s Legendary Man and Myth I stepped into the low light of a derelict cabin and studied moldering walls, broken glass, and filth. My three-year-old son clung to me, scanning the shadows. “Daddy, there could be ghosts! We need to get out of here!” he said. The cabin once belonged to Henry “Tiger” Olson—a hermit, philosopher, and mystic who lived most of his life in Taku Harbor, 20-some miles south of Juneau. By the time we got there, it had been more than 40 years since he had occupied the cabin. To be honest, the place creeped me out a little as well. It wasn’t just Tiger’s cabin that felt haunted, though—Taku Harbor is filled with ruins and stories. The harbor is part of the Tlingit T’aaku Kwáan’s territory. The Hudson’s Bay Company established their Fort Durham Trading Post there in 1840, only to abandon it three years later.…

Right place, wrong attitude I stood on the walkway over Steep Creek, in the shadow of the Mendenhall Glacier. A popular spot for Juneau locals and visitors alike. This late summer afternoon, sockeye salmon finned in the clear shallows, flashing their deep red spawning colors; a bald eagle perched in a spruce, framed by the autumn-tinged slopes of Mount McGinnis: the whole scene a giant, living postcard. I gazed out, feeling my pulse and breathing slow to match my surroundings. An incoming clump-clump of footsteps signaled an end to my moment alone. No big shock. After all, the bus-packed parking lot for the Glacier Visitor Center lay just a hundred yards away. Amazing, I told myself, that this little chunk of country could absorb so much traffic, day in and out, and stay this good. “Where are the bears?” A New Jersey voice in the crowd demanded. “They said…