300 Villages: Hoonah

This week we’re heading to Hoonah, a small community on Chichagof Island in Southeast. Chris Erikson runs a guiding business in Hoonah.

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“My name is Chris Erickson. I live in Hoonah, Alaska. I run a guiding and outfitting business during the spring and the fall seasons for brown bear and back bear and, then during the summer season I am a charter captain on my 45-foot boat, The Icy Lady.

To access Hoonah, the most common method is to fly into Juneau, and then either come over on the ferry or take one of the small airlines about a 20 minute flight over here or a three mile ride on the Alaska Marine Highway.

Hoonah, we’re on the northern end of Chichagof Island about 40- miles west of Juneau. Just a beautiful little community right at the mouth of Port Frederick. We’re kind of uniquely situated because we’re an easily accessible community from the main road system or the main towns.

We have very good fishing and deer hunting and, of course, lots of bears. Anywhere in Southeast Alaska you’re going to have lots of bears.

We’re very close to Glacier Bay. It’s about an hour and a half, a two hour trip by boat from Hoonah to the entrance of Glacier Bay to Bartlett Cove. And of course you can also fly with the smaller airlines. They offer daily flights into there as well.

About the last ten years the cruise ships have established a presence here through the Icy Straight point and so there’s a bit of tourism going on. But by far, I would say commercial fishing is probably our largest private employer.

If you’re looking for nightlife, Hoonah is not the place to go. Most people who live in Hoonah or come to Hoonah come here because we do have very good fresh and salt water fishing outdoor opportunities, kayaking, climbing, hiking, and, of course, hunting. Deer hunting, bear hunting that sort of thing. People that live here, live here because that rural lifestyle is what they prefer. We don’t have all the social activities of all the malls and the shopping and all the conveniences that come with it. So for a lot of people it is difficult. But for those of us, that’s not the sort of thing that we cater to, this is the place to be.

For most Alaskans I think Alaska more than a geographic place. I think it also occupies a huge part of their heart and maybe it’s a state of mind as well.”

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