First occupied by Tlingit Indians then settled by the Russians in 1799, Sitka, on Baranof Island, became American in 1867. Modern Sitka is an amalgam of this heritage, set on an island stage with rugged mountains as backdrop. History buffs will enjoy exploring the Russian Bishop's House, the Finnish Lutheran Cemetery or Sitka National Historic Park.
Outdoor enthusiasts can conquer Mt. Edgecumbe, a long spent volcanic peak that punctuates Kruzof Island nearby. Hikers are rewarded with a sweeping panorama from the top, and can test their sea-arms while kayaking the 20 miles roundtrip from Sitka to the trailhead and back. There is a Forest Service cabin on the island, one of 24 in the area that can be accessed by floatplane or boat from Sitka.
For those less interested in the numerous mountain hikes in and around Sitka, scenic cruises to St. Lazaria Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Goddard Hot Springs provide ample opportunity to spot wildlife and relax tired legs.
Fishing charters operate out of Sitka's four harbors while scuba divers can explore Alaska's cold-water species from beneath the surface. Tours in a semi-submersible offer a dryer means to explore the underwater habitat during the summer months.
Sitka is southwest of Juneau. Accessible by air or by sea, adverse weather conditions and can often disrupt service to the city, so be flexible.