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Adventure, wildlife, and leisurely fun can all be found at Icy Strait Point, outside of Hoonah, Alaska. Located on Chichagof Island, it is open to the public when cruise ships are in port. Icy Strait Point can be easily visited from Juneau or from your cruise ship if it’s a planned stop. You’re encouraged to check out IcyStraitPoint.com to view their calendar and book your visit in advance.
Icy Strait Point: A Microcosm Of The Entire Alaska Experience
When visiting Alaska, most people expect to experience breathtaking scenery, incredible wildlife, adventurous activities, and exposure to native culture. You may not expect to find all of those in one location: Icy Straight Point.
Opportunities To View Whales, Bears, and Other Wildlife
Due to the proximity to Point Adolphus where the largest population of humpback whales live during the summer, Icy Strait Point guarantees that you will see a whale while onboard their whale-watching boat. According to their website, whales have been spotted on every tour since 2004.
Orcas, also known as killer whales, may also be seen. But the humpback whales are the stars of this show. While on the whale-watching tour, you might also catch a glimpse of seals, sea lions, porpoises, and bald eagles along the shoreline.
Wildlife and bear watching tours are also available, and although this area has a very large population of brown bears, a sighting is not actually guaranteed. This walk through the Spasski River Valley consists of boardwalks, gravel paths, and viewing platforms that have been advantageously placed.
You may also see bald eagles on this tour, along with Sitka black-tailed deer. Bird-watchers will have much success along the path and you might spot salmon swimming in the Spasski River.
Experience Adventure Along With The Beauty At Icy Strait Point
For the adventurous at heart, experiences can be had on both land and sea. Starting on land, there are Jeep and ATV expeditions. Jeeps provide an incredible way to see the old logging roads and gain access to mountain trails, while ATVs can be used on the remote dirt trails. Both will offer you the opportunity to stop and enjoy multiple awe-inspiring views.
If you’re more interested in adventure on the water, Icy Strait Point does not disappoint. For a low-key journey, take a guided kayak tour. Each kayak holds two people and the group will be led by a local guide who is both knowledgeable about the area and safety-certified.
For a little more speed on the water, jump aboard either a 4-person Zodiac or the 27-foot inflatable raft. According to IcyStraitPoint.com, the ocean raft trip provides “up-close views of waterfalls, tidal flats and abundant wildlife that live on the rugged shores . . .” If you take the Zodiac tour, you’ll have a chance to drive the boat, following the guide on a custom-designed tour depending on the day’s weather and wildlife sightings.
On either of these water-based adventures, viewing wildlife is still one of the highlights of the experience. You may see any of the following: humpback whales, seals, sea lions, puffins, sea otters, eagles, and more.
The most exhilarating experience to be found at Icy Point Strait is the world’s largest ZipRider. The launching point is at the top of Hoonah Mountain, at 1550 feet tall.
The ZipRider is over 5000 feet long and the riders drop 1330 feet. If you take the ride, you will land on the beach at Icy Point Strait after experiencing speeds over 60 miles per hour on the descent.
Leisurely Activities Also Available At Icy Strait Point
You will have the opportunity to both learn and taste in Alaska’s Wildest Kitchen. This experience is led by an experienced fisherwoman and master wilderness chef.
You can learn about the whole cycle from fishing to preserving to preparing local-caught seafood. You will also be able to grill your own fish and enjoy the taste of truly fresh seafood. According to IcyStraitPoint.com, “The tasting menu may include fresh and canned salmon dishes, grilled halibut, Dungeness crab, wild berries, seasonal herbs, and vegetables.”
Whether bird-watching is something you enjoy for fun or a serious undertaking, Icy Strait Point has an experience for you. Here is a list of birds commonly found along the bird-watching tour: warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, jays, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, wrens, kinglets, swallows, swifts, hummingbirds, creepers, chickadees, and thrushes.
Eating Well Is Expected At Icy Strait Point
Choose from three restaurants to satisfy you when you work up an appetite with all your adventures.
First is the Crab Shack, specializing in Dungeness crab, snow crab, and king crab. According to their website, when it’s Dungeness crab season, the crabs aren’t killed until you place your order – talk about fresh! Enjoy your meal sitting on the dock and consider treating yourself to their famous Bloody Mary to go along with your crab.
Second is the Cookhouse Restaurant that has been in business for over 100 years due to the local cannery. In addition to local seafood, their menu also features unique dishes made from reindeer meat. You can try a reindeer burger or even reindeer chili. This means you’re having an adventure even when you’re taking a break to eat!
Third is the Duck Point Smokehouse Restaurant just a few feet away from the ZipRider. Salmon is smoked fresh at this location and then used in many of their recipes. According to their website, their signature dish is “the Icy Strait Point Surf and Turf, which features house-made crab tater-tots and our Alaskan Blue Sliders, provides a rich mix of flavors which are sure to delight even the most discerning foodies.”
Shop For Alaskan Treasures At Icy Strait Point
The notable Cannery Complex is home to 12 shops all selling unique Alaskan treasures. Clothing, jewelry, decorations, blankets, handmade items, and more can all be found within these shops. Additionally, you can buy canned Sockeye Salmon and ship it home or to anyone you like.
Icy Strait Point Has A Rich History
When visiting Icy Strait Point, you may enjoy yourself even more if you understand the history of this incredible location. Click here for a fully detailed explanation of the history if interested after reading these few highlights.
- Present day Hoonah became home to the Tlingit after they were forced to move by glacial movement during the Little Ice Age. Translated, Hoonah means “where the north wind doesn’t blow.”
- In the 1880s, fur traders arrived and were shortly followed by churches, schools, and stores.
- In 1912, a cannery was built by the Hoonah Packing Company and from the very beginning, it has been a large part of the community.
- The cannery produced salmon up until the 1950s and was then used for maintenance and storage until the 1990s.
- In the 1990s, the cannery was purchased by the Huna Totem Corporation, and in 2001, the tourist experience began.
- According to IcyStraitPoint.com, “currently, 85% of the staff at ISP are local Tlingit from Hoonah.” Additionally, the profits “directly support the local community.”
Visiting Icy Strait Point Via Cruise, Air, and Ferry
Icy Strait Point partners with the following cruise lines:
- Royal Caribbean
- Holland America
- Regent Seven Seas
- Norwegian Cruise Lines
If visiting via a cruise, your ship will dock right at Icy Strait Point.
If not part of a cruise, you can take a ferry from Juneau to Hoonah via the Alaska Marine Highway System. Keep in mind that Icy Strait Point is only open to the public when a cruise ship is in town, so be sure to check the schedule and book your trip ahead of time.
Your third option is to catch a seaplane from Juneau to Hoonah. Alaska Seaplanes flies to Hoonah three times per day in the winter and six times per day in the summer. As stated above, be sure your visit coincides with a cruise ship schedule as well.
Icy Strait Point Is The Epitome of Alaskan Adventures
You can book your tours at Icy Strait Point through your cruise line or directly on their website. Tours do fill up, so the website mentions several times that you should book in advance. Because of its fairly easy accessibility, the variety of activities, and the plethora of wildlife, Icy Strait Point is an amazing experience for adults and kids of all ages.
You can see the whales, watch the bald eagles soar, zip down the mountain at 60 miles per hour, kayak along the shoreline, and eat the most incredibly fresh seafood you’ll ever experience.