Paddling in Alaska

My paddling partner and I are starting to plan this summer’s trip. Last year was central coast BC, this year we’re heading to Alaska. We haven’t decided where yet and I know many on this board have been there or live there now.

Here are what our needs are:

-Not more than 1 day travel before we launch (we only have about 3 weeks total).

-Able to rent decent kayaks, preferably NDKs.

-Remote enough that if we run into another paddler or trekker we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

Homer seems like a good starting point, then maybe ferrying out. Kodiak Island is mighty tempting.

Thanks for any and all opinions.


Try Misty Fjords outside of Ketchikan
Lyn, Look at We rented Current Designs Solstice kayaks there, were dropped off in Mysty Fjords and spent the week there. E-mail if you want more info.


Thanks Jim
That’s definitely one of the places we’re considering. It looks amazing.

Did you have any trouble finding campsites?


no problem
We had no problem finding campsites with simple planning and using a map.


The big questions are what type of conditions are you interested in and how much do you want to spend. The areas in southeast Alaska will be similar to what you saw in BC and will tend to be calmer on most days. Kodiak and the places near Homer are more exposed to the open ocean. I’ve heard Prince William Sound is a mixture of the two. A lot of the areas you go to you will run into other people, although not necessarily too many paddlers. Summer is the time when people are fishing, both for sport and commercially, so there are a lot of boats out there.

If you want to go cheap you can hop on the Alaska state ferry and get dropped off in Sitka, Petersburg, or one of the other southeast towns. Other places it may cost a bit more for a commercial service to get you to where you can paddle easily.

I recently moved down from Anchorage to Ketchikan and am just getting into kayaking and learning the area, so I can’t offer you too much specific advice. Pick an area and call or email one of the outfitters nearby and see what they say.

Hope you have a good trip. I have been out 3 times in the past week, and it really can be magical when the conditions are right.


Ketchikan, AK

May depend on which month you go
I’ve been to AK twice so far, both times SE AK. First trip was a month-long camping trip along the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Skagway. We did it in June 2004. Even though this is supposedly a popular route, we saw very few paddlers during that entire month. We met exactly TWO other long-haul paddlers, plus a couple near Juneau out on a day-trip, and we saw maybe another 8 paddlers day-tripping near small motherships (these 8 were all in one area).

I had expected to see lots of paddlers, like hikers on the Colorado Trail or the Appalachian Trail. Not so. Maybe if we had been out in July there would have been more. Not that I minded!

We used topo maps for all our navigation purposes, maybe not the best choice but they helped us get an idea of where good campsites might be. (And we never got lost.)

Two years later but in August, my husband and I took a mothership-based vacation in Misty Fjords. We still saw few paddlers. One thing I noted in sharp contrast to the June trip, though, was that whereas on the first trip we only saw ONE bear (plus tracks and/or fresh scat at a few other places), on the August trip we saw bears at every place that you might consider suitable for camping on. I think out of 8 days on the water there was only one on which we didn’t see bears.