Kodiak Island, Alaska
Executive summary by darmansjah
Alaska’s Emerald Island is the nation’s second largest after Hawaii, but its landscape—a Last Frontier in microcosm—and accessible location (about an hour from Anchorage by air) make it a manageable destination for wading boot-first into the state’s natural and cultural wonders.
The city of Kodiak—the first capital of Russian America—serves as the staging point for seaplane and boat trips throughout the nearly 5,000-square-mile (12,949 square-kilometer) Kodiak Island Archipelago. Though steeped in Russian Orthodox and native Alutiiq history, the area is best known for the estimated 3,500 massive Kodiak brown bears (above) roaming the archipelago, primarily in the 1.9-million-acre (769,000-hectare) Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
The months of July, August, and September are prime bear-viewing times, so plan ahead to join a guided backcountry tour. Trained biologist Harry Dodge and his wife, Brigid, lead small group treks from their Uyak Bay wilderness lodge via Kodiak Treks, an Adventure Green Alaska (AGA) gold-level sustainable tourism-certified outfitter.
Kodiak Island is a large island on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, separated from the Alaska mainland by the Shelikof Strait. The largest island in the Kodiak Archipelago, Kodiak Island is the second largest island in the United States and the 80th largest island in the world, with an area of 9,311.24 km2 (3,595.09 sq mi). It is 160 km (100 miles) long and in width ranges from 16 to 96 km (10 to 60 miles). Kodiak Island is the namesake for Kodiak Seamount, which lies off the coast at the Aleutian Trench. The largest community on the island is the city of Kodiak, Alaska.
Kodiak Island is mountainous and heavily forested in the north and east, but fairly treeless on the south. The island has many deep, ice-free bays that provide sheltered anchorages for boats. The southwestern two-thirds of the island, like much of the Kodiak Archipelago, is part of Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.
Kodiak Island is part of the Kodiak Island Borough and Kodiak Archipelago of Alaska. The town of Kodiak is one of seven communities on Kodiak Island and is the island's main city. All commercial transportation between the island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline. Other settlements include the villages of Akhiok, Old Harbor, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Port Lions, and an unorganized community near Cape Chiniak. The village of Ouzinkie on nearby Spruce Island is also part of the island community. Kodiak is also home to the largest U.S. Coast Guard base, which includes Integrated Support Command Kodiak, Air Station Kodiak, Communications Station Kodiak, and Aids to Navigation Station Kodiak.
The Kodiak Bear and the king crab are native to the island. The fishing industry is the most important economic activity on the island; fisheries include Pacific salmon, Pacific halibut, and crab. The Karluk River is famous for its salmon run. Logging, ranching, numerous canneries, and some copper mining are also prevalent.
An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city of Kodiak provides primary communications to and from the island.