Sitka National Historical Park Totems carved with the history of the Tlingit and Haida people border the rainforest trails in Alaska’s oldest federal park. Established to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka between Tlingit and Russian forces, the site includes a historic battlefield and the Russian Bishop’s House.
• Look for migratory birds at the park’s marine shoreline, spawning salmon in the Indian River, and witness the old-growth and multiple canopy layers of the resident rainforest.
The park’s 113 acres sit amongst a coastal temperate rainforest dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock. Alongside this old-growth forest lies a rich marine intertidal shoreline where salmon spawn and migratory waterfowl and shorebirds stopover during spring and fall.
Alaska Governor John G. Brady asked leaders from several southeast Alaska villages to donate totem poles for public exhibitions outside of Alaska, and eventually for display at the park. More than a dozen Tlingit and Haida poles were placed along the park’s trails in 1906. Many of the poles on display at the park today are replicas of the original totem poles and a few of the original poles can be viewed in the visitor center.
Cultural Highlight Step back in history to a time when Sitka was the capital of Russian America and the Russian Bishop’s House was the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Completed in 1842 and used by the church until 1969, the now restored structure is open to the public and offers visitors the chance to see one of the few surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America.