Bethel was originally inhabited by the Yup'ik tribes and was called "Mumtrekhlogamute", a mouthful of a name that meant "Smokehouse People". In the late 1800's, the Alaska Commercial Company established a trading post in the area, and missionaries settled there in 1885.
Bethel today is a thriving community of just over 5,000 people with a strong subsistence based culture and an active tourist trade during the summer months. Accessible only via air or riverboat, flights depart daily from Anchorage.
Bethel is home to the popular sled dog race, the Kuskokwim 300, which commemorates an early mail route in the area and takes place each January. Other activities that visitors can enjoy include the Camai Dance Festival, held each March and featuring traditional dancers from all over Alaska, as well as hunting, biking, hiking, skiing and snowmachining. There are nearby streams with trout and salmon fishing, as well as flightseeing and helicopter tours.
Accommodations, restaurants and shopping are all readily available, and Bethel is unique in that it has a surprisingly large taxi industry despite only having about 10 miles of paved road
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