Southwest Alaska

The elongated Alaska Peninsula marks the extreme western extension of the North American continent. Tapering out into the Bering Sea like a curled crocodile’s tail, it's a jumble of treeless emerald hills, precipitous cliffs and conical snow-capped peaks heavy with reminders of an erstwhile Russian culture and a still surviving Aleut one.

In the east sit Kodiak Island and Katmai National Park where you can indulge in what are, arguably, the best salmon fishing and brown-bear viewing opportunities on the planet.

Equally special are the surreal landscapes of the lower peninsula and the nebulous Aleutian Islands beyond. The Alaska Marine Highway System runs an economical ferry route, weaving its way twice monthly between Kodiak and Dutch Harbor, stopping at half a dozen pin-prick-sized, off-the-grid communities along the way. Replete with breaching whales, smoking volcanoes and poignant WWII sites, this could well be the best water-based excursion in the state.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Southwest Alaska.