Yakutat lacks a downtown, and homes, businesses, and lodges are scattered over several miles. You’ll need a rental vehicle to get around. The boat harbor is interesting, with a nice trail around the nearby lagoon. One local oddity is the old train engine and cars from the Yakutat & Southern Railroad at the intersection of Alsek and Airport Roads. Between 1907 and 1949 the engine was used to haul fish to a local cannery.
The typical visitor to Yakutat is a 55-year-old from Indiana who comes here with his buddies for a week of fly-fishing and beer drinking. Their main focus is the Situk River, where 10,000 or so steelhead return to spawn, primarily March–May. Local lodges provide boats and guides, along with ocean fishing charters for halibut and salmon. Drift boats put in at the aptly named Nine Mile Bridge over the Situk; it’s nine miles out on Alsek Road.
A National Park Service Visitor Center (907/784-3295, www.nps.gov/wrst, Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. mid-May–mid-Sept., Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. mid-Sept.–mid-May) provides information on both Glacier Bay National Park and Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve. A large Tlingit house screen from 1905 is a focal point, with other exhibits on Malaspina Glacier and other sights in the area.
Stop by Tongass National Forest’s Yakutat Ranger District (907/784-3359, www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass) for details on the Russell Fiord Wilderness, public-use cabins, bird-watching, and other recreational opportunities. Looking for wildlife? Head out to the dump on Alsek Road, where brown bears often forage.
Eleven Forest Service cabins (www.recreation.gov, $35) are scattered along the Yakutat Forelands, the relatively flat and forested area that stretches for 50 miles east of town. Especially popular with anglers are three cabins along the Situk River.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition