Sitka, Alaska Employment and City Information
The seaside fishing town of Sitka is regarded by many as the most beautiful in southeast Alaska. Spend some time in this picturesque district on Baranof Island and you’ll realize these plaudits are deserved. Look to the west to admire the sparkling Pacific Ocean, and then turn to the east to take in the breathtaking snow-capped mountains. No wonder this scenic spot is called the Paris of the Pacific. Happily though, a stay here is much more affordable than a vacation in the French capital!
Sitka’s beauty is dampened a little by the city’s frequent rain. Optimistic residents call the showers “liquid sunshine,” but if you’re unprepared you may not share their enthusiasm! A raincoat and umbrella are essential items of luggage for any trip to Sitka. As it’s so close to the ocean, Sitka experiences higher than usual rainfalls, with an average of 90 inches each year. It’s worth noting that hydroelectric stations turn the precipitation into energy, so every shower helps the people of Sitka live more sustainably.
While the people of Sitka live a modern existence now, it wasn’t always this way. The town was first settled by the native Tlingit people, who called it Shee At’ika. This translated to “People on the outside of Shee,” as it is part of Baranof Island, or Shee as these indigenous people called it. This original name has evolved over time to become the modern form, Sitka.
Russian settlers arrived in Sitka in 1799 and made the township the first white colony in southeast Alaska. These first settlers were driven out by Tlingit warriors, but the Russians returned in 1804. Both camps struggled for control of Sitka, but eventually peace was found. The early white settlers flourished as fur traders, although this industry later gave way to gold mining and fish canning. Today Sitka is regarded as Southeast Alaska’s cultural center, as it’s the oldest community in a relatively young state. The town commemorates its indigenous past and Russian heritage while also celebrating modern art, music, and creativity.
While Sitka’s township boasts modern conveniences, some of its most rewarding experiences see visitors abandoning technology and getting back to nature. The area is teeming with wild animals who enjoy Sitka’s mild climate and small population. The waterways are home to sea otters, whales, and sea lions, while the brown bears and blacktail deer enjoy life on the land.
Look out for these creatures as you hike Tongass National Forest or Sitka National Historic Park, or kayak around Goddard hot springs and Port Alexander. Animal lovers can also take a 30-minute boat ride to St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary that’s home to bald eagles, tufted puffins, seagulls, and other aquatic birds. Organized wildlife cruises can also take you further than you can kayak, which is a real advantage if you hope to observe humpback whales frolicking in the ocean.
While Sitka’s wildlife can be admired from afar, it can also be enjoyed by anglers. As with many Alaskan towns, Sitka offers world class fishing. Its fresh water streams and lakes are famous for halibut. If you’re craving a larger catch, then join a fishing charter and fish for king salmon in the open seas.
You’ll see much of Sitka from the ground, but if you want to really appreciate its majesty consider taking to the skies. Local seaplane tours introduce tourists to Sitka’s geological marvels, including the dormant volcano Mt. Edgecumbe and the pristine Baranof Icefields.
Perhaps much of Sitka’s beauty can be attributed to its isolation. The city is not connected to the rest of Alaska by road, so visitors must travel there by air or water. It’s a regular stop on the itinerary of cruise ships and the affordable Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Alaska Airlines also offers daily flights to Sitka from Seattle and Anchorage.