Sitka, Alaska’s historic Russian-American island city, is situated on the  west side of Baranof Island. Mt. Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano that looks like Japan’s Mr. Fujiyama, dominates the horizon and tiny flowerpot islands dot the harbor. Sitka is easily accessible as it is a scheduled stop on the Alaska  Marine Highway System and has daily flights from Seattle and Juneau. It is also a favorite stop for cruise ships during the summer.

The name Sitka, or “Shee Atika” in Tlingit meaning “people on the outside of Shee (“Shee” being the Tlingit name of Baranof  Island). Looking back upon Alaska’s historical happenings, it was indeed here  that much of Alaska’s history was written. Sitka was the headquarters for the Russian-American Company which  colonized and exploited their new found possession. Sitka was the site of  the historic transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States, and the location of Alaska’s first capital.

Emergency only 911: Sitka Hospital 747-3241, 209 Moller Drive; Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital 966-2411, 222 Tongass Drive.

Post Office: 1207 Sawmill Creek Road.

ATM: First Bank 203 Lake St.

Vitus Bering, commanding a Russian expedition, is credited with the discovery  of Alaska. There were two vessels in his expedition—the “St. Peter” and the “St. Paul.” The St. Paul commanded by Alexei Chirikof, drifted apart from Bering’s vessel, the “St. Peter,” in a storm and one  month later landed “near the entrance of a large sound, surrounded by forested mountains, beneath the towering majesty of a cone-shaped peak.” Since there seems little doubt that Chirikof’s landfall preceded Bering’s,  Sitka has been accepted as the site of Alaska’s discovery by Russia on July 15, 1741.

In 1799, Alexander Baranof built Fort Redoubt St. Archangel Michael six miles  north of the present day Sitka (near the ferry terminal). This settlement  was destroyed two years later by Tlingit warriors, and in 1804, Baranof returned from Kodiak to re-stake a settlement in the Sitka area. Following the battle  at Indian River with the Tlingit, the Russians were able to settle in the former Indian site which is now Sitka, and the Indians evacuated the area until about 1822.

Flying the flags of many nations, explorers and traders followed on the heels  of the discoverers, seeking the fur wealth of the sea-otter. The first major  development effort, however, was that of Gregor Shelikof, the Russian Merchant Prince. Shelikof organized the Russian American Company and founded the headquarters  on Kodiak Island in 1784.

Alaska was officially transferred to the United States at Sitka on October 18, 1867. Sitka remained the capital until 1912, when the territorial government was moved to Juneau.

Sitka’s fortunes had ebbed to that of a small fishing hamlet, until the beginning  of World War II brought a naval center to Japonski Island, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. Today the naval center has been converted  to Mt. Edgecumbe Educational and Medical Center, a boarding high school and hospital for native children from all over Alaska.

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Best Places to Stay in Sitka

Westmark Sitka Hotel

Located near the harbor in the heart of downtown, offers comfortable lodging and fine dining in an environment designed to reflect local cultural influences.


Best Things to Do in Sitka

Sheldon Jackson Museum

Sheldon Jackson Museum is the oldest museum in Alaska and the building itself is on the National Historical Register. Named for Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson, the driving force behind the construction of the museum as well as the collector of many of its artifacts. Summer visitors can observe Native Artisans taking part in the Museums’s residency program. These artist demonstrators link historic and contemporary Native culture for visitors.

Allen Marine Tours – Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest

On this exciting tour, you’ll have the opportunity to observe some of the area’s  most famous residents: sea otters, humpback whales, puffins, bald eagles, or even brown bear, all in their natural habitat! Trace the rugged coast of pristine Sitka Sound or explore the narrow waterways that divide countless untouched islands and if conditions permit they will cruise to St. Lazaria, a world famous bird sanctuary. Let Allen Marine share the wild places around Sitka few have ever seen. 

Sitka Historical Museum

Learn about the lives and histories of the people of Sitka: the Tlingits, Finns, Russians, and early American settlers of the 19th century. There are informative and attractive displays, a diorama of early Sitka and great photographs.

St. Michaels Cathedral

St. Michaels Cathedral originally completed in 1848, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1966. This Russian Orthodox Cathedral is home to a collection of art and rare church treasures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harrigan Centennial Hall

Exhibits portraying Alaska’s history, art and wildlife. New Archangel Dancers perform here. The Isabel Miller Museum run by the Sitka Historical Society in the Harrigan Centennial Hall houses Russian artifacts. The prize being a diorama depicting Sitka in 1867.


Dining in Sitka


Subway® has RV friendly locations open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat Fresh with a Footlong Sub and add chips and a drink for your adventure! Stop and fuel up at over 50 Subway® locations across the state, order online at or on the Subway® APP.


Getting Around in Sitka

Alaska Marine Highway

The Alaska Marine Highway provides year-round ferry transportation throughout Southeast Alaska. The ferries provide residents and visitors with an opportunity to experience the scenery, wildlife, and warm hospitality of a variety of ports between Bellingham, Washington and Southwest Alaska. Regularly scheduled ferries between Sitka and Juneau.

Avis Car Rental

Avis Car Rental has locations all throughout the state of Alaska, including the Sitka Airport.


Sitka, Alaska FAQs

What is Sitka, Alaska, Famous for?

Sitka, Alaska, is renowned for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and thriving cultural scene. As the former capital of Russian America, Sitka boasts a blend of Russian and Tlingit influences. The city is also famous for its picturesque setting, surrounded by mountains, forests, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s often referred to as the prettiest town in Alaska.

Does Sitka, Alaska, have 24 hours of daylight?

No, Sitka experiences just shy of 18 hours of daylight at the Summer Solstice on June 20. By the end of August, the number of daylight hours is down to 14.

How to get to Sitka, Alaska?

Sitka is accessible by air and sea. Visitors can fly directly to Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport from Juneau, Seattle and various locations around Southeast Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System also provides regular ferry service to Sitka. 

What to do in Sitka, Alaska, in one day?

With only one day in Sitka, you can explore its historical sites, such as the Russian Bishop’s House and the Sitka National Historical Park. Enjoy a scenic hike, visit the Alaska Raptor Center, and take in the breathtaking scenery from Totem Square.

Can you fly to Sitka, Alaska?

Yes, Sitka has its own airport, Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, served by several airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Alaska Seaplanes.

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