Located on Chichagof Island, Icy Strait Point is one of the most natural cruise ports you can 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 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 11 things to consider to make the most of your day.
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 who didn’t visit the port because they thought just getting there was too demanding.
Don’t think twice about not leaving the ship. Some carts come right to the ship that will get you to an accessible spot so that you may enjoy this port.
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 whale-watching spot. Most whale-watching operators have a money-back guarantee that you will see a whale.
Remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean 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.
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. 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 enjoying 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.
Icy Strait Point Zipline
If you want a real adrenaline rush, head 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 blocks the view of what will come.
The gate opens like in a horse race, and the six people are off on a race to the bottom at sea level after descending 1330 feet. Speeds of 60 mph can be achieved on this thrilling adventure. The views on the way down are a real bonus.
Take a walk and look for an eagle’s nest
Enjoy a forest walk and look for eagle nests. Taking the TRANSPORTER between Wilderness and Ocean Landings is possible, but why not enjoy the forest’s canopy?
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 there.
Visit the Salmon Cannery
Stroll along the coast to the Cannery, where the restored former fish processing center 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 flat. There are a few residences along the way.
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 sit and enjoy the view, the waves, and the peaceful surroundings.
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 various 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.
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.
Go Kayaking in the harbor
Kayaking for those looking to 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.
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. Trails that weave in and out of the Icy Strait Point port complex are right off the ships. Some trails take you into the woods, and some run along the beach.
Canopy Adventure Park
The Canopy Quest Adventure Park, located under the aerial cableway, is suitable for both children and adults.
It offers four levels of difficulty: Levels one and two are suitable for ages seven and up, while level three is slightly more challenging.
The top-level course, open to those 12 and older, includes six zip lines and 18 obstacles. It is a good idea to bring a camera to capture your family as they navigate bridges, walk on logs, and fly along the zip lines.
Explore the Heritage Museum for free
Icy Strait Point is also rich in history and culture. The Huna Tlingit people have lived in the area for thousands of years, and visitors can learn about their traditions and way of life through cultural experiences.
The Heritage Center Museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the Huna Tlingit people and their connection to the land and sea, and best of all. There is no cost for admission.
Guests can also participate in traditional totem pole carving and basket-weaving activities. These hands-on experiences offer a unique opportunity to learn about the Huna Tlingit culture and create a meaningful souvenir to take home.
In 2021, Icy Strait Point was one of the first Alaskan cruise ports to welcome ships back after the industry shutdown and won the Seatrade Port of the Year Award in 2020.
Whether looking for a high-adrenaline adventure or sitting and enjoying the incomparable scenery and fresh air, you will feel at home in Icy Strait Point.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some popular excursions in Icy Strait Point?
Icy Strait Point is known for its whale-watching excursions, which allow visitors to see humpback whales, orcas, and other marine life. Other popular excursions include zip-lining, bear-watching, and kayaking.
What are some hiking trails in Icy Strait Point?
Visitors to Icy Strait Point can enjoy a variety of hiking trails, including the Hoonah Waterfall Trail, which leads to a beautiful waterfall, and the Chichagof Trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Can you go whale watching in Icy Strait Point?
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Icy Strait Point. Visitors can take a whale-watching excursion to see humpback whales, orcas, and other marine life in their natural habitat.
Do cruise ships dock at Icy Strait Point?
Yes, cruise ships do dock at Icy Strait Point. It is a popular port of call for many Alaskan cruises, and visitors can easily explore the area on foot or by taking one of the many excursions offered.