An open field marks the site of the Tlingit Fort and battlefield, where Russian forces won a decisive victory over Alaskan Natives in the 1804 Battle of Sitka.
In 1910, this site was designated Alaska’s first national park. Sitka National Historical Park includes exhibits about the battle, as well as the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center.
Walk along the shore, and you’ll see many different migratory birds, particularly in spring and fall when the herring and salmon run.
A two-mile trail along the shore through the coastal rain forest is lined with replicas of totem poles brought to Sitka by the district governor in 1905. The beautiful and haunting cedar poles tell the stories of Southeast Alaskan Native tribes.
Sitka was the colonial capitol when Alaska was under Russian Imperial rule. The Bishop’s House, renovated to look as it did in 1853, reflects the log construction and opulent decoration of Russian churches in Alaska. The gold embellished icons in the Chapel of the Annunciation are particularly memorable.
From the park you can venture up to Castle Hill, where Russia officially transferred Alaska to the United States in a flag ceremony on October 18, 1867.