58.42 North – 135.43 West
Excursion Inlet is located on the north side of Icy Straits, east of Glacier Bay National Park, about 38 miles northwest of Juneau. The inlet itself is about 10 miles long. It is surrounded by mountains that range from 3,000 – 4,000 feet tall. There is no road leading to Excursion Inlet. Access is by float plane or boat and there is an airstrip for small crafts (scheduled flights year around). There is also regular barge service (summer only) and mail service (once per week). There is a public seaplane base available.
Less than 10% of homes in the area are used year around, in fact the last census showed only 11 residents. Most of the properties are used as weekend recreation cabins. Power is by generator. Cabins, fishing lodges and private property are on the east side of the inlet. The west side is part of Glacier Bay National Park.
A Tlingit clan, Woosh-Kee-Tawn, inhabited the land long ago, but were forced to leave. A recent conservation easement was created to protect an ancient burial ground.
The first cannery in the area operated from 1906 – 1931. Very little remains of that operation. A second cannery was built in 1918. Originally this facility was used as a strategic base, supply point, cargo staging area, and a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Wards Cove Packing Company operated the cannery until 2002. Ocean Beauty Seafoods acquired the property in 2003. Today they process pink and chum salmon as well as salmon roe, caviar, halibut and sablefish. Their season runs from late June to mid-September and employs about 500 people. They operate a company store and fuel dock plus they sell bait!
Some logging activity took place in the 1980’s but for the most part this area is pristine. The scenery is absolutely stunning and tranquil.