When most people hear the phrase “a town in Southeast Alaska,” Angoon will not be the first one that comes to their mind. After all, it’s a small Tlingit village of just under 500 people.
Some people may remember the semi-viral internet music video “This is Angoon” by Eagles N Ravens from the early 2010s but many others may not even have heard of it at all.
If you’re coming to Alaska and have an interest in the great outdoors, Tlingit culture, fishing, or seeing bears, a few days in Angoon will be a perfect addition to your adventure!
I’ve made a list of a few of my favorite things to do in Angoon, but before that, let’s talk about how to get there.
How to Get to Angoon
Since Angoon is on Admiralty Island, there is no road access to town, meaning you’ll have to come by plane or boat.
Thankfully, this is an easy task, as Angoon receives smaller cruise ships several times per week and it is also served by the Alaska Marine Highway System.
If you’d like to fly, you can take a float plane into town from Juneau or one of the other nearby cities.
Charter fishing tours are the backbone of Southeast Alaska and one that can be found in most places in the area.
However, the type of fish that are available to catch is highly dependent on which city, town, or village you’re fishing near. Of course, you can catch halibut and most types of salmon just about anywhere.
Angoon offers both saltwater and freshwater fishing, which will give you the opportunity to catch way more fish than a place that only offers saltwater.
See Some Bears
If there were ever a place where you were almost guaranteed to see some brown bears, it’s on Admiralty Island. There are over 1,600 brown bears on the island, which means they outnumber the humans three to one!
The best place to go and see some bears safely and from a distance is the Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area, which is administered by the US Forest Service.
It will require advance booking and a permit but if you book online as part of a tour group, they’ll handle the permitting and scheduling for you.
Of course, it’s important to remember that even with the number of bears on the island, it’s possible you might come at a time when they are simply not hungry or are sleeping.
However, there are many other types of wildlife that visit the area, including deer, mink, river otters, and a lot more. Even if you don’t see a bear on your visit, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter some wildlife you’ve never seen before!
Talk a Walk or a Hike
If you’re interested in a leisurely stroll, take Aanya Street until it turns into the Cemetery Trail, which, as you may have guessed, goes through and past the local cemetery.
If you’d like an easy hike, a little ways past the gravestones, you’ll find the Danger Point Trail. For the record, the “Point” itself is not dangerous, it’s more about the bears you might encounter on the way.
As long as you remember the basic bear safety tips, you should be fine. In a situation like this, don’t walk towards it, and make sure you’re never standing between a mother and her cubs.
I’ve seen dozens of bears in my life and I’ve never been attacked because I was taught these rules as a kid and I’ve followed them strictly ever since. Half the time, the bears don’t even look at me. I just turn around and walk away slowly.
If you think the bear is about to charge, make yourself look bigger and make as much noise as possible. The bear will back down and leave. If you have a cell phone that can play music, that works wonders, too.
Visit the Clan Houses
There are no museums in Angoon (and no restaurants or grocery stores, either), but that doesn’t mean you won’t have the chance to get a look into some traditional Tlingit culture.
The Tlingit people are divided into two main moieties, the Eagle and the Raven. Both of these are further divided into Clans, which were represented by the clan houses just outside of Angoon.
They were built over 100 years ago, each one representing one of the dozens of Tlingit clans but now only 14 remain at the site. They are no longer used, but the faded artwork on the outside is still visible.
Visit the Angoon Trading Co.
The Angoon Trading Co. is the only store in town. Since most of the village’s residents adhere to the traditional subsistence lifestyle of the Tlingit, their diet consists mostly of fish, animals, and berries.
All of those things are available locally and a lot fresher than the packaged varieties, so they’d have little use for a grocery store.
The store sells many souvenirs, t-shirts, sweatpants, Billiken, Tlingit art by local artists, and many other wonderful items to bring home and remember your amazing Alaskan adventure.
Admiralty Island is one of the best hunting grounds in the entire state, with many people from all over Southeast Alaska coming during the season to get big game, small game, and waterfowl.
In addition to the bears, there are also geese, grouse, mallards, beaver, mink, river otters, and many other species of all sizes for you to bag.
You’ll need a permit from the Department of Fish and Game website, your own supplies, and you’ll also want to make sure that you avoid hunting in the protected parts of the island, but if you like hunting, Admiralty is the perfect place.
Stay in a Forest Service Cabin
There are 13 USFS rental cabins available on Admiralty Island, each with its own unique charm and individual attributes. There are also several campgrounds available on the island if you’d prefer to pitch a tent.
Davidson Lake Cabin is only accessible by float plane or canoe but gives you a wonderful opportunity to get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors. Starting in mid-to-late summer, the lake will even be warm enough for a swim.
The Lake Alexander Shelter is another good option if you’re looking to stay toward the center of the island. You can also walk the 2.4-mile trail to Mole Harbor for more incredible views.
Rent a Canoe or Kayak
If you’re an experienced kayaker or are comfortable with a canoe, there are many excellent places to go from the island. Rentals for both are available in downtown Angoon.
If you’re going through the island, you may have to portage (or carry) your canoe in some places, but overall, it’ll be faster than walking and give your legs a bit of a rest.
Visit a Beach and Look for Glassbuoys
As you might expect from a large island with a lot of lakes, there are plenty of beaches all over Admiralty Island.
You never know what the tide will bring in but if happen to be at the beach as it’s going out, you may be able to find some pretty cool things.
The most coveted item is the Japanese glass float, which is a glass ball that was used to keep fishing nets afloat. They’re no longer used, but they’ve become a fun collector’s item that sometimes wash up on many beaches near the Pacific Ocean.
Summary and Conclusion
The actual city of Angoon does not have a lot for visitors to enjoy as it is primarily a residential town. However, it is also the gateway to Admiralty Island and some of the most amazing scenery and wildlife that can be seen anywhere on Earth.
Whether you’re visiting on a day trip, making port on a cruise ship, or coming to stay in one of the many Forest Service cabins in the area, you’ll have a wonderful time stopping here on your amazing Alaskan adventure!