Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Tour of Excursion Inlet, Alaska, July 2011

 Our summer home for the past 28 years has been at a remote inlet in Southeast Alaska on the eastern border of Glacier Bay National Park.  The Inlet is home to a handful of year-round and summer cabin residents, a growing number of luxury vacation homes and sport fishing lodges, and a large fish processing plant that has operated since 1908.  It also was the location of a German POW camp and military re-supply base for the Aleutian campaign during WWII, leaving numerous relics of the camp and military infrastructure around the Inlet.  More about that later, perhaps, but on to our tour of the Inlet.

This is me standing above our lot and cabin site on a beautiful day, with a glimpse of the Ocean Beauty cannery facility in the far distance.

Our original A-frame cabin on left is now flanked on the right by a bath house, woodshed, generator/freezer building, and the shop/boat house/guest room combo on the far right.

We have added a phone booth on the point so that it faces the nearest cell tower, 25 miles across Icy Strait in Hoonah.  The phone booth was added after several years of making calls in cold rain while sitting on a rock on the beach, and it works great.

The hummingbirds just outside our living room window provide lots of entertainment as they feed, zoom around, and occasionally fight over feeder rights.  You can see our greenhouse and Starband satellite dish in the background.

This is the view looking to the south from the opposite (west) side of the Inlet, which is actually within the boundary of Glacier Bay National Park.  The small island on the left is one of the four Porpoise Islands, and Pleasant Island is in the distance on the right.  The area is well known for its good halibut and salmon fishing, and is a popular destination for fishing charters from nearby Gustavus.

 My husband, Tom, and I, leave our beach for some kayaking in the calm waters on an early morning in July.

We are heading north up the Inlet towards the cannery about 2 miles from our cabin.

Near the cannery we paddle through the scum from what we call the gurrey shoot, where ground up fish waste is discharged.  This scum disappears pretty fast, probably gobbled up by the gulls, small fish, crabs, or other critters in the area.

The Ocean Beauty dock has a steady stream of tenders, seine boats, trollers, and other commercial vessels that off load fish for processing at the plant.

The fishing fleet comes from various ports around Southeast Alaska and Washington state.

The smaller public dock located a short distance from the cannery dock is used by the fishing fleet, charter boats, and pleasure craft passing through the area.  Yachts traveling between Glacier Bay NP and Juneau often stop to resupply or wait out weather at Excursion Inlet.

A view of the cannery complex from near the public dock shows a few of the buildings, including the store, employee housing, and the cannery museum.

A short walk from the public dock is the store, which is open to the public and stocks groceries, fishing gear, souvenirs, and a variety of clothing.

Beyond the store is the cannery village, with the fisherman's laundry and shower facility.  

Another view of the village and playground area.

Back out by the public dock we see an old barge formerly used as a fish buying station that was probably anchored in Elfen Cove near the outside water fishing grounds so trollers didn't have to make the long run to offload their fish at Excursion Inlet.  

Back at the public dock we load up and relaunch our kayaks for the trip back.

On our return trip we swing by the barge ramp, located just south of Ocean Beauty's main dock.  This barge, operated by AML (Alaska Marine Lines), comes about once per week to deliver containers with supplies for the cannery and local residents and pick up canned fish.

Van containers are stacked high on the barge and in the storage yard.

We are back at the cabin here, with Tom walking toward our boat house.

Tom's road up our steep hill was a huge challenge to build, taking about three summers of hard work cutting through enormous trees, bogs, and solid rock.  The quarter mile road connects us to an upper trail that allows us to get to the cannery overland by ATV, which is much more convenient that using our boats.

This is all I have for now, but there is so much more I want to share.  I'll try to post more soon.  Thanks for tuning in and please come back to read more about our life at Excursion Inlet.


  1. It's always great seeing Excursion Inlet. I just stumbled onto your blog via a Google image search for "Excursion Inlet". I spent three summers working in the cannery, 1993-1995, on the slime line of the fish house. Many fond memories of the cannery camp were brought to mind after looking at your photos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice pics worked for xip in 94 again in 97 loved it up there the inlet not the work met alot of good people. Wish anonymous left a name just curious.

  3. Thanks for this info. My husband & I hope to work a couple seasons at Ocean Beauty, starting May 2017, and your info filled in some questions for us!

    1. Happy the post was of help to you and hope your work experience at Ocean Beauty is a good one. They are a good outfit, run by good people! Maybe we'll run into you on our visits to the store, where the manager, Erika, usually knows our whereabouts.

    2. I was looking at buying the misty river retreat. If you have seen it at the north end of the inlet could you give me some info on it.

    3. Also, I would like to say thanks for your tour and keep on doing a good job . I love it.

    4. Sorry, but I'm not familiar with the north end of the inlet, and haven't heard of a place by that name. There are several lodges and cabins at that end, but we don't know anything about the owners. If you ask around the other folks at that end, I'm sure they could help you.

  4. Thanks betsy, more pics they are great

  5. Do you know of any properties for sale in your area?

  6. There are a couple 2nd row cabins in the south subdivision and one waterfront lot that I think may be for sale. You might check the Juneau real estate listings and search for Excursion Inlet. One has been listed with a realtor in the past and she may know of others in the area. I can't remember her name or company, but she is a Juneau realtor.