The Inside Passage stretches for roughly 1,000 miles from Puget Sound in Washington State and along the coast of British Columbia and Alaska up to the Lynn Canal in Skagway, Alaska, where the mountainous coast meets the Pacific Ocean. Alaska's portion of the Inside Passage stretches about 500 miles, boasting fjords, glaciers, lush forests, wildlife and plenty of islands. The Tongass National Forest, which is the largest national forest in the United States and the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, covers the vast majority of the Inside Passage in Alaska. The Inside Passage is a popular cruising area and marine transportation route, due to its absence of open ocean swells and its relatively flat and calm waters. Plus it's a highway of water, and in fact, the Alaska Marine Highway System uses the Inside Passage, as there are not many roads that connect different parts of southeast Alaska.
The Inside Passage is home to Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Alaska Native peoples whose history is reflected in towering totem poles and whose vibrant culture can be seen today. These first settlers to Alaska arrived at least 13,200 years ago, when the oldest footprints found in North America come from. Unfortunately, many records of early human habitation along the Inside Passage is now underwater and permanently lost. Spanish, English and Russian explorers came to discover the region. During the period when Alaska was a Russian colony, settlers left their legacy through onion-domed churches in cities like Sitka. My own explorations of Alaska came by cruise ship on the Inside Passage. While I stopped on land in Hoonah, Juneau and Skagway, I also spent plenty of time sailing around past some of the islands of the Alexander Archipelago, including Baranof Island, Chichagof Island and Admirality Island.
How to Get There:
Sources and Links:
Travel Alaska - Alaska's Inside Passage
Maple Leaf Adventures - Inside Passage