“Surf City, Alaska”? That’s right. Yakutat has become known for extreme surfing in both winter and summer. Located in the northern reaches of the Inside Passage region, Yakutat made at name for itself in the late ‘90s as the first Alaska town with a surf shop, but there’s plenty more to see and do here for visitors.
Life in Yakutat is rich with the culture of the Native people of the area, which are a mixture of the Eyak of the Copper River Valley to the north and the Tlingit of the Inside Passage area. Here the elders share their knowledge and wisdom through storytelling in the local community gathering place. Yakutat was established as a Russian fort in the late 1700s, and like much of the region, later saw gold mining, fur and timber booms. Today fishing drives the economy.
Isolated on the strand that connects the Inside Passage to the rest of Alaska, Yakutat has gained the increasing attention of visitors. Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in the world, is a mere is 30 miles away. The eight-mile-wide glacier is easily Alaska’s most active. The entire area, part of the 545-square-mile Russell Fjord Wilderness, is one of the most interesting places in Alaska and usually accessed through flight seeing or boat tours available in town. Our Yakutat Alaska Travel Guide has everything you need to start planning your Yakutat Alaska vacation. Also visit more great Alaska beach locations by <<Clicking Here.>> Need to know what to pack for your Alaskan Vacation? << Click Here >>
Yakutat Weather (When to Visit)
Mild, intermittent rainy days, typical of a maritime climate, are to be expected in Yakutat. Yakutat receives some of the highest precipitation in Alaska with an average annual rainfall of 132 inches and 219 inches of snow. Summer temperatures range between 42 and 60 degrees F with winter temperatures between 17 and 39 degrees F. High quality outdoor gear is recommended for visitors. The best time to visit? June 15 – July 15 as the best time to visit Alaska. But not everyone can visit during that month window, and that’s no problem. Alaska weather is not predictable. You can come in August and bask in sunshine or in June and face “horizontal rain” (driving rain plus strong winds).
Best Yakutat Area Attractions
Located 30 miles northeast of Yakutat is Hubbard Glacier, the longest tidewater glacier in the world. The 76-mile-long glacier captured national attention by galloping across Russell Fjord in the mid-1980s and again in 2002. The 8-mile-wide glacier is easily Alaska’s most active. Most visitors view Hubbard Glacier as part of cruise ship trip across Gulf of Alaska. Others reach the icy phenomenon through flight seeing or boat tours arranged in Yakutat.
Incredible. You must see Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve to believe it. Number and scale loom large here, magnified by splendid isolation. It’s the largest U.S. national park with peaks upon peaks and glaciers after glaciers. Follow any braided river or stream to its source and you will find either a receding, advancing, or tidewater glacier. The park lets you sample representative Alaska wildlife as well as historic mining sites.Hike its mountains,float its rivers, ski its glaciers, or fly over this landscape and you witness living geology. You sense discovery, the feeling you might be the first to see such sights.
Icy Bay was formed in the last 100 years by the rapid retreat of the Guyot, Yahtse, and Tyndall Glaciers. It is part of the Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness. At the beginning of the 20th century, the bay entrance was permanently blocked by a giant tidewater glacier face that calved icebergs directly into the Gulf of Alaska. A century-long glacial retreat has opened a multi-armed bay more than 30 miles long. Icy Bay is popular destination for sea kayakers, and is reachable by bush plane from Yakutat.
Walk for miles on these untouched sandy beaches and don’t be surprised if you stumble upon some cool shaped driftwood or the occasional glass balls. The waves here are said to be a surfers dream!
Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rain forest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration.
Best Things to Do in Yakutat
Excellent sea kayaking exists in Russell Fjord Wilderness, a 545-square-mile preserve that includes Hubbard Glacier. Most kayakers arrive with folding kayaks and then utilize float plane transportation to land deep in the fjord. Outfitters also offer guided kayak expeditions into the wilderness and sea kayaks are available for rent to explore the bays nearer to the town of Yakutat.
Life in Yakutat is rich with the culture of the Native people of the area. Here the elders share their knowledge and wisdom through storytelling in the local community gathering place. Hear their story and see the traditional dress regalia of the Tlingit people.
Protected by an 18-mile wide reef, Yakutat Bay offers excellent natural fishing structure that is only a short boat ride from the harbor. The community is home to charter fishing captains that target halibut, ling cod, king and silver salmon, red snapper, black bass and rock fish throughout the summer.
Yakutat Tern Festival
One of the largest and southernmost known breeding colonies of Aleutian Terns exists here. The earliest record of breeding Aleutian Terns in Yakutat – on the Situk River Flats – is 1922; the colonies in the Yakutat area appear to be a stronghold for a suspected declining worldwide population. The Aleutian Tern has a limited range throughout Alaska and eastern Siberia and Russia, and very little is known about this species, including its migration patterns. The Yakutat area is currently at the forefront of Aleutian Tern research, including studies on population trends, nesting ecology, and migration patterns. The mission of the festival is to highlight the extraordinary natural and cultural resources of Yakutat and to stimulate the local economy by hosting a festival celebrating Aleutian Terns.
Alaska’s Yakutat Bay extends to the Gulf of Alaska, where grey sands meet crashing surf. Consistent swells that can balloon out to more up to 20 feet have made the small village of Yakutat one of Alaska’s self-proclaimed surf meccas. The area is sometimes referred to as “The Far North Shore” and the town’s sole surf shop is aptly named Icy Waves. More than 100 surfers will visit Yakutat every summer for the unusual experience of surfing in Alaska. The best waves occur from mid-April to mid-June and mid-August through September. The Japanese current pushes summer water temperatures into the mid-60s while during the rest of the season, temperatures range from the mid-40s to the mid-50s.
Their amenities are designed for Alaska nights and early mornings – blackout shades, extra blankets, coffee makers that can serve a crowd. And when the day is done, relax in large spaces that friends want to gather – whether around the fire, or around the BBQ overlooking the bay. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Monti Bay Lodge & Resort.
Glacier Bear Lodge has 31 comfortable rooms available, and all of the rooms have two double beds, one roll-away bed, and a private full bathroom. Their dining room offers a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring Alaskan Seafood, homemade soups, breads and desserts. They offer a full service bar with a big screen television; surround sound for all the current sports, pay per-view boxing and UFC. Also available are pool tables, dart board, music and dance floor. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Glacier Bay Lodge. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Glacier Bear Lodge.
The lodge is made up of 7 waterfront cabin style units & 3 larger units with fully equipped kitchens & private baths. Basic hotel rooms are also offered in the main lodge for the budget minded traveler. Hotel guests share a full common kitchen with adjacent view deck & propane barbecue. With our lodging options we welcome single travelers, families, large groups, & conferences. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Leonard’s Landing Lodge.
Tucked away on the South side of Icy Bay, built with all the comforts of home and then some! Satellite wifi camp-wide. The comfortable lounge/living room is a popular place to relax and discuss the fishing tales and adventures at the end of the day. Five heated cabins, each equipped with hot showers and privacy can sleep up to 4 persons each although we usually try and limit to 2 persons per cabin. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Icy Bay Lodge.