Welcome to The Inside Passage
Shaped by the carving of massive glaciers millions of years ago,
Southeast Alaska is an astounding region of deep fjords, glaciers,
majestic mountains and forests. Known as the 'panhandle', it
epitomises classic Alaskan scenery. Thousands of islands form a
pristine protected waterway called the Inside Passage that is lined
with many charming towns and small villages rich in history. About
half of the tourists who travel to Alaska arrive on cruise ships
that make their way through the islands of the Inside Passage to
ports of call such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and Skagway.
The area is home to the native cultures of Tlingit, Haida and
Tshimshian Indians and the art of totem pole carving, traditional
music and dance has been preserved especially in Ketchikan. Russian
settlers have also left their legacy of icons and onion-domed
churches, having been drawn to the region in search of fur; the
region's promise of gold, salmon fishing and forests of timber
attracted many profiteers. Today the business of tourism is an
additional income-earner for many of the picturesque coastal
The history of the Gold Rush days is especially evident in the
town of Skagway at the northern tip of the Inside Passage, once a
lawless trading post serving the Klondike Gold Rush pioneers.
Juneau is Alaska's attractive capital, with a bustling waterfront
and a scenic mountain backdrop, and is the gateway to one of the
country's more stunning regions, Glacier Bay National Park.
With no roads connecting the towns the best way to travel is by
the Alaska Marine Highway ferry that hops from town to town, or on
one of the numerous and very popular cruises that ply the channels.
The Alaska Marine Highway is a designated National Scenic Byway and
is one of the most beautiful ways to explore Alaska. The deep
waters and mild climate provide a prime habitat for whales, sea
lions and porpoises, which can often be spotted from the deck.
Between the picturesque fishing town of Petersburg and
Russian-founded Wrangell is the spectacular Wrangell Narrows that
is only 300ft (91m) wide and so shallow in places that the boat is
forced into a slalom course of 46 turns to avoid grounding on the
channel bottom. Frederick Sound is a prime whale sighting area.
Information & Facts
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.