Thousands of islands, millions of birds, and cultural treasures make this an iconic place. Dramatic coastlines, velvety green tundra ablaze with flowers, sandy beaches of every color, and steaming volcanoes are just some of the delights awaiting visitors to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Our visitor center is at 95 Sterling Highway in Homer, Alaska, and can be reached by car or a short flight from Anchorage, but most of the refuge lands are much more remote.
A journey to the far-flung lands of the Alaska Maritime Refuge almost always involves a boat. You will be in good historic company. Boats are how the first inhabitants of these islands and coastal lands traveled, and it's how the refuge research crews usually reach their destinations.
Tour boats, ferries, planes, cruise ships, or your own boat can transport you to parts of the refuge. No refuge lands are accessible from the road system. Homer and Seward are the only road-accessible communities nearby. All other communities in and near the refuge are accessible by scheduled air service; and some such as Sitka, Seldovia, Kodiak, Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan, and Unalaska also have ferry service.
If you have 15-minutes:
Stop by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center to pick up maps and brochures for the area. Can't make it to see us in person? Take a virtual 3D tour.
If you have one hour to a half day:
The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center takes you on a dramatic journey through the refuge's past and present and surrounds you with the sights, sounds (and even the smells of a seabird colony)...and invites you to follow biologists as their research ship sails to remote islands each year.
The Beluga Slough Trail is a roughly 1.2 mile gravel and boardwalk trail leading from the visitor center, through the slough, and down to Bishop’s Beach. Along the way you may see sandhill cranes, ducks, or shorebirds.
If you have a full day:
Tour boats leaving from Seward pass the Chiswell Islands and many other refuge islands with large colonies of seabirds and Steller sea lions. Smaller boats leaving from near our headquarters in Homer pass by small islets in Kachemak Bay or may go as far as the Barren Islands where millions of seabirds and marine mammals have safe harbor.
If you are ready for a multi-day adventure:
The Pribilof Islands are accessible via flights from Anchorage. The windswept islands have thousands of fur seals, millions of seabirds, and gorgeous scenery. St. Paul Island is home to the largest community of Unangax (Aleut) people and the native corporation offers guided tours. St. George Island has a much smaller human population but larger numbers of birds and easy birding opportunities within walking distance of lodging.
The Alaska Marine Highway's ferries and air carriers can transport you to communities near refuge lands such as Sitka, Seldovia, Kodiak, Chignik, Adak, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan, and Unalaska. A few cruise ships visit more remote islands.
Visit the Aleutian Islands WWII National Monument
The Beluga Slough Trail is a roughly 1/3 mile gravel and boardwalk trail leading from the Visitor Center, through the slough, and down to Bishop’s Beach. Along the way you may see Sandhill Cranes, ducks, or shorebirds.
7 days a week 9AM-5PM
Visit the Aleutian Islands WWII National Monument page to learn more.
Access to these remote locations off the road system is difficult, but at least some tour companies occasionally offer boat-based tours with a focus on history or bird watching. There is no regularly scheduled air or boat service directly to the monument locations.
Adak is one of the few places in Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge accessible by commercial airline. Visitors to Adak can find hiking maps, brochures and information here. Drive the road around Clam Lagoon and check out the interpretive panels. This amazing haven from predators like orcas is full of otters with their squealy pups and seals hauled out on the mudflats or hunting under the bridge across the entrance to the lagoon.