Located on Chichagof Island, Icy Strait Point is one of the most natural cruise ports that you may ever visit. With outstanding views wherever you look, you will get a real feel for the grandeur of Alaska.
Intent on keeping those views a part of the visit to Icy Strait Point, the docks have been designed so that visitors always have a scenic view of the wilderness.
Icy Strait Point has changed through the years with new attractions and even better access. If you haven’t been there for a few years, you will be pleasantly surprised by the new improvements.
When you visit Icy Strait Point, here are 10 things to consider to make the most of your day.
1. Get off the ship, even if you have mobility issues.
Icy Strait Point is accessible, so don’t be tempted to stay on the ship when you see the long pier. Unfortunately, I met people with mobility issues that didn’t visit the port because they thought just getting there was too demanding for them. Don’t think twice about not leaving the ship. There are carts that come right to the ship that will get you to an accessible spot so that you may enjoy this port.
2. Watch for whales.
Many whales congregate around Point Adolphus and hang out for the summer. Its proximity to Icy Strait Point makes it a perfect spot for whale watching. In fact, most of the whale-watching operators have a money-back guarantee that you will see a whale.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see a breaching or bubble netting group of whales. Boat operators cooperate and let others know when they spot a whale. Whales migrate through the area on their way back from wintering in Hawaii.
3. Take the Icy Strait Point gondola up the mountain.
One of the newest additions to Icy Strait Point is a gondola that reaches amazing heights and offers great views of the area. Actually, there are two different gondolas.
The complimentary TRANSPORTER gondola moves guests between the two cruise piers, Ocean Landing and the newest pier, Wilderness Landing. This transport gets Wilderness Landing guests closer to the Cannery area and Ocean Landing guests close to the SKYGLiDER to reach the top of the mountain.
The new SKYGLiDER ascends to 1,600 feet of elevation at Sky Peak. The 54 cabins each hold eight passengers, all of whom enjoy window seats. The cabins accommodate wheelchairs. The SKYGLiDER carries 2,800 guests per hour in each direction. The views at the top showcase the magnificence of this spectacular area of Alaska.
At the top, guests may hike a 1.5-mile trail to Hidden Lake or head to the ZipRider.
4. Icy Strait Point Zipline
If you are looking for a real adrenaline rush, head up to the World’s Largest ZipRider. As the longest in the US and one of the longest in the world at over a mile in length, the ZipRider requires no special skills. It is accessible as well.
Riders get into individual seats and place their feet on a board that does block the view of what is to come. The gate opens, just like in a horse race and the six people are off on a race to the bottom at sea level after having descended 1330 feet. Speeds of 60 mph can be achieved on this thrilling adventure. The views on the way down are a real bonus.
5. Take a walk and look for an eagle’s nest.
Enjoy a forest walk and look for eagle nests. It’s definitely possible to take the TRANSPORTER between Wilderness and Ocean Landings, but why not enjoy the canopy of the forest?
The walk between the two is just a little over a mile and mostly flat, with a slight rise. Be sure to look up and you might spot an eagle’s nest. Look at the forest floor and take notice of the native plants such as skunk cabbage. Along the way, you can cut over to the shore and continue your walk along there.
6. Visit the Salmon Cannery.
Take a stroll along the coast to the Cannery, the restored former fish processing center that has been transformed into shops, restaurants, and a historical museum.
Along the way, you will see the new Wyland whale sculpture, pass by other restaurants, and might even enjoy the chip fire. This walkway is accessible and basically flat. There are a few residences along the way.
7. Hit the beach… yes, really!
You might not think of Icy Strait Point as a beach destination, but there is a beach on the way to the Cannery. Many visitors walk along the shore, some searching for stones. But, on every visit, I have seen people swimming. Others just take a seat and enjoy the view, the waves and the peaceful surrounding.
8. Go on a fishing expedition.
Icy Strait Point has a history based on fishing, not only because of its cannery, but also as part of the Tlingit tradition. Legends from the Tlingits tell stories of fish and fishing. The area is home to a variety of fish including salmon and halibut.
For those interested in trying their hand at catching a local species, it’s possible to go out for a fishing adventure. Fly fishing in local creeks is also an option.
9. Eat some seafood at local restaurants.
Speaking of fish, trying some of the local specialties appeals to many. The Cookhouse, Duck Point Smokehouse, and Crab House Restaurants are popular. It’s possible to see passing humpbacks from the waterfront restaurants. Coming in July of 2022, the Alaska food truck will be at a Beer Garden up at Sky Peak.
10. Go Kayaking.
Kayaking for those looking to really connect with the water takes place in the protected waters of Port Frederick. Tandem kayaks glide across the water. There’s always a possibility of spotting whales or eagles. The views back to the shore give a nice overview of picturesque Icy Strait Point.
11. Go for a Run.
If you’re a runner or enjoy the outdoors, this is the place for you and you don’t have to stray too far. Located right off the ships are trails that weave in and out of the Icy Strait Point port complex. Some of those trails take you into the woods and some run along the beach.
Icy Strait Point, a winner of the Seatrade Port of the Year award in 2020, offers many more activities, so be sure to do your research. Whether you are looking for a high adrenaline adventure or just wish to sit and enjoy the incomparable scenery and fresh air, you will feel at home in Icy Strait Point.