Home to the Tlingit people for centuries and to the brown bear even longer, Admiralty Island spans across nearly a million acres of old growth rainforest, rugged coastline, and alpine tundra.The native Tlingít people call this island “Kootznoowoo,” meaning “Fortress of the Bear” and their name for this island is could not be more accurate.
The 956,155-acre monument is home to an estimated 1,600 brown bears, the highest concentration anywhere in the world and more brown bears than the rest of the states combined. The island also has the world’s greatest concentration of nesting bald eagles. More than 5,000 eagles live on Admiralty Island and average a nest every mile along the coastline of the Seymour Canal.
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Admiralty Island has a variety of other wildlife as well. The Mitchell, Hood, Chaik and Whitewater bays house harbor seals, porpoises and sea lions. Humpback whales can often be spotted near the Seymour Canal. Sitka black-tailed deer are ample, and the waters are filled with all five species of Pacific salmon that reproduce in July and August.
Admiralty Island is planted on the east and north by Stephens Passage, on the west by Chatham Strait and on the south by Frederick Sound. Mountains rise to 4,650 feet and the majority of its’ land is covered by permanent icefields. Numerous lakes and rivers break up the coastal rain forest of Sitka. More than 90 percent of the monument is designated as the Kootznoowoo Wilderness while the lone community is Angoon, a predominantly Tlingit village at the tip of Mitchell Bay on the west side of the island.
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Scattered across Admiralty Island are 14 cabins that can be rented and two free-use shelters. Many of the cabins are located on lakes and can be reached from the Cross-Admiralty Canoe Route. The 32-mile trail system links eight major lakes and allows paddlers to travel from the east end of Mitchell Bay to Mole Harbor in Seymour Canal.
Kayaking, hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography are all popular activities in Seymour Canal. Admiralty Island is best known for bear viewing at Pack Creek. Most visitors on Pack Creek arrive on floatplanes from the closest city of Juneau just for the day. Upon arrival, they are met by a ranger and then hike a mile-long trail to an observation tower from which they can watch brown bears feed on spawning salmon. No camping is allowed at Pack Creek but a camping area is maintained on nearby Windfall Island for kayakers visiting Pack Creek.
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