Humpback whale swims into the sunset in Frederick Sound near Juneau, Alaska.

Southeast Alaska

Explore the Inside Passage, a place where ancient icefields meet lush rainforests.

Shot of a cruise ship departing Juneau.

Southeast Alaska

Explore the Inside Passage, a place where ancient icefields meet lush rainforests.

Majestic shot from the White Pass Railway on the outskirts of Skagway Alaska.

Southeast Alaska

Explore the Inside Passage, a place where ancient icefields meet lush rainforests.

Standing in front of Meade Glacier in Skagway, Alaska.

Southeast Alaska

Explore the Inside Passage, a place where ancient icefields meet lush rainforests.

Native Totem Pole in Skagway Alaska.

Southeast Alaska

Explore the Inside Passage, a place where ancient icefields meet lush rainforests.

Southeast Alaska

Known alternatively as the Alaskan Panhandle or the Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska stretches 500 miles from the base of Mt. Fairweather to Misty Fjords National Monument. To the northeast is Canada, to the southwest only ocean. It is a strikingly beautiful region, with forests of Sitka spruce and cedar, emerald mountains, sheer fjords, and tidewater glaciers connected by intensely blue water.

More than 75 percent of the Southeast is covered by the Tongass National Forest. It's a temperate rainforest, the largest in the world, and the misty, mossy, lushly green woodlands contribute greatly to the region's magical feel. Also within the Southeast border lines are Glacier Bay National Park, Misty Fjords National Monument, the farthest tip of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

Small port towns like Ketchikan, Wrangell, Angoon, Sitka, and Gustavus dot rocky coastlines throughout the Inside Passage. Many were originally sites of Native Alaskan villages or seasonal fish camps, while others were settled by Russian fur traders in the 1800s. The area is also home to gold rush boom towns like Skagway and Juneau, Alaska's state capital.

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Recreational activities are abound in the Southeast, with nearly all centering on the area's protected waters. You can whale watch in Icy Straight and Glacier Bay, rich feeding grounds that support gray whales, humpbacks, and orcas. You can fish for everything from salmon to halibut to rockfish out of Ketchikan and Gustavus. You can sail up to the face of massive tidewater glaciers in Disenchantment Bay and the Tracy Arm, or see 3,000-foot granite cliffs shooting straight from the water in Misty Fjords.

Visitors can do all this by taking an Alaska cruise from Vancouver to Seward through the Inside Passage. Along with favorite ports of call in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and occasionally Sitka, cruises often spend a day exploring the scenery within either Glacier Bay National Park or sailing alongside the Hubbard Glacier. You can use the Alaska Tour & Travel cruise finder to browse potential voyages by date and cruise line.

Except for Haines, Skagway, and the tiny town of Hyder, there are no roads into Southeast Alaska. Most visitors travel through the region by cruise ship. Juneau is the hub for major air travel, with Alaska Airlines flights connecting to Anchorage and Seattle. Most other Southeast communities are reachable by floatplane air taxi. The area is also served extensively by the Alaska State Marine Highway.

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Southeast Alaska