Kodiak Island Archipelago

Situated in the Gulf of Alaska, the Kodiak Island Archipelago parallels the Katmai Coast along the Alaska Peninsula for 177 miles. Sixteen major islands and many smaller ones encompass nearly 5,000 square miles, roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. At 3,588 square miles, Kodiak Island is the largest island in the group and the second largest island in the U.S. Only the island of Hawaii is larger. Raspberry Island is the fifth largest island in the Kodiak Aechipelago. Thirty miles across Shelikof Strait lie the coastal lands of Katmai National Park & Preserve.
The archipelago is a continuation of the Kenai Mountain Range, which begins on the Kenai Peninsula to the north. Lying on the Aleutian Trench, the archipelago has been strongly influenced by both volcanic and seismic activity along the "chain of fire." Ten thousand years ago, most of the islands were covered by glaciers that scored and carved the landscape. Jagged peaks, fjord-like bays, and wide U-shaped valleys were left by the glacial retreat.
Nature's handiwork created a place of spectacular scenic beauty and a wilderness ideally suited for land, sea and marine life. The mild, ever-changing maritime climate insulates the islands from the extremes of the mainland. Lush vegetation carpets the terrain, giving the Emerald Isle its name.

Land Mammals

For most people, Kodiak's identity is linked with its most famous resident, the Kodiak brown bear. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1941 to protect bear and other wildlife habitat. About 3,000 bears live in the archipelago, with many additional bears inhabiting the Katmai Coast. The proximity of these two large bear populations make Kodiak an ideal bear viewing locale.
The red fox, short-tailed weasel, little brown bat, tundra vole and river otter are the other land mammals native to the archipelago. Introduced species include the snowshoe hare, mountain goat, Sitka black-tailed deer, arctic ground squirrel, Roosevelt elk, muskrat, red squirrel and beaver.

Intertidal Animals

Tidal variation on Raspberry Island is about 20 feet. Minus tides reveal the unique creatures that inhabit the intertidal zone. Anemone, sea stars, chitons and limpets may be observed. Blue mussels and a variety of clams are also found in the intertidal zone. At low tide near our camp, octopus can often be found under large rocks.

Marine Mammals

Steller sea lions are year-round residents in the archipelago, often seen in boat harbors and haul-out areas. We even have a sea lion rookery nearby which we like to visit often. Sea Otters, once hunted to near extinction, can be seen in sheltered waters near kelp beds. Harbor seals are found in protected inner bays and lagoons. The largest marine mammals found in Kodiak waters are fin, minke, humpback, killer and gray whales. Spring and fall are the best times for observing migrating gray whales. Killer whales are common in the spring and summer. Dall and white-sided porpoise are often seen riding a boat's waves, unlike the shy harbor porpoise.


Kodiak is a birder's paradise. Thanks to a mild climate and plentiful food supply, bird watching opportunities are excellent year-round. Over 200 bird species have been identified in the archipelago. Winter bird counts are usually the highest in Alaska, with sixty to eighty species identified each year.
Common birds include: fox sparrows, golden-crowned sparrows, Wilson's warblers, golden- crowned kinglets, winter wrens, pine siskins, water pipits, and rock and willow ptarmigan. Eagles are seen in abundance throughout the area.
Sea birds and ducks are seemingly everywhere including Steller's and king eider, oldsquaw, harlequin ducks, Barrows golden eye storm petrels, sand hill cranes, horned and tufted puffins and black-legged kittiwakes.


From mountain top to shoreline, the islands are carpeted in lush vegetation. Depending on the season, an ever-changing kaleidoscope of foliage can be found.
The northeastern part of the archipelago is covered with thick Sitka Spruce forests-the only unmixed stand in the world. Heavily laden with moss, these massive trees shelter a variety of shade tolerant plants, including several varieties of orchids. Meadows yield colorful displays of wildflowers including: shooting stars, rose purple orchids and chocolate lilies. Lupine, monkshood and fireweed bloom in profusion.
Other plants have taken hold and adapted on alpine slopes, rocky cliffs and beaches. Deep purple iris, Labrador tea, and the insectivorous sundew thrive in bogs found throughout the island group. In late summer and early fall, berries can be found along most every roadside and trail. Low- bush cranberries, blueberries and salmonberries are local favorites. At Port Vita, we have a particularly good crop of salmonberries in August for visitors to enjoy.

Alutiiq - People of the Land

Linguistically, culturally and biologically the Alutiiq are most closely related to the Yupik Eskimo of the Bering Sea coast. They based their subsistence lifestyle on the rich marine resources of the region. Sea mammals, whales, salmon, shellfish and birds were the basis for survival.
Numerous coastal communities dotted the islands. The Alutiiq lived in large, multi-family sod structures or barabara. Accomplished skin sewers, they favored tattooing, ear and nose piercing and labrets for personal ornamentation.
When the Russians arrived in the late 1700s, the Alutiiq numbered more than 20,000 individuals. Armed conflicts and diseases introduced by the Russians wiped out entire villages. Today, more than 800 archaeological sites throughout the islands are helping to piece together this rich heritage, all but lost after more than 200 years of acculturation.
But the Alutiiq culture is not dead. A visit to one of the Kodiak Island Borough's six villages reveals the continuity of many ancient traditions and a subsistence lifestyle. While seemingly remote, explorers and wayfarers have found their way to Kodiak for centuries. A unique blend of Alutiiq, Russian and Scandinavian cultures resulted. At Port Vita, we offer a day trip to the abondoned Afognak Native Village destroyed by the 1964 earthquake and tidal wave.
Today commercial fishing and small scale tourism form the livelihood of most village residents. In addition to varied and unique settings, each village offers opportunities for sport fishing, wildlife viewing and backcountry recreation.

Climatic Data

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ave High oF 35 36 39 44 50 56 61 62 57 47 40 36
Ave Low oF 25 25 27 31 38 44 48 48 43 34 29 25
Ave Daylight Hrs 7.5 9.0 11.5 14.0 16.5 18.0 17.5 15.9 13.5 11.0 8.8 6.8
Ave Precipitation In Inches 7.4 5.3 4.6 4.2 5.5 4.8 3.7 5.2 7.0 7.2 6.0 6.8