12 Parks in Sitka, Alaska

Last Updated on March 7, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Sitka is a beautiful seaside town located on the west coast of Baranof Island in southeast Alaska. Known for its abundant natural beauty and rich culture, Sitka offers visitors a chance to experience the best of Alaska.

Park NameFeaturesActivitiesNotable For
Sitka National Historical ParkTotem poles, historical trailsHiking, cultural learningRich historical and cultural site
Totem ParkTotem poles, scenic viewsSightseeing, photographyDisplay of Native American art
Fortress of the BearBear sanctuaryWildlife viewingClose encounters with rescued bears
Harbor MountainMountain trails, scenic viewsHiking, picnickingPanoramic views of Sitka and beyond
Castle HillHistorical significanceSightseeingSite of the transfer of Alaska
Sitka Sound Science CenterMarine research, aquariumsEducational visitsMarine life exploration
Whale ParkWhale watching, interpretive signsWildlife viewing, educationSpotting humpback whales
Russian Bishop’s HouseHistorical building, Russian historyTours, historical learningRussian colonial history
Japonski IslandWorld War II historyWalking, historical toursMilitary history

One of the top highlights of Sitka is its numerous city, state, and national parks that allow you to fully immerse yourself in Alaska’s magnificent landscapes. From seaside parks with spectacular views to trails winding through old-growth forests, Sitka’s parks have something for everyone to enjoy.

Castle Hill

Name and Location: Castle Hill, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Castle Hill, also known as Baranof Castle State Historic Site, is a significant historical landmark in Sitka. It was the site of the transfer ceremony when Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. The hill was originally fortified by the Tlingit people and later became the location of the Russian governor’s residence.

What to Expect:
Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of Castle Hill for panoramic views of Sitka Sound and the surrounding islands. Interpretive signs provide information about the site’s history. The hill is a popular spot for picnics and photography.

Visitor Information: Castle Hill is open year-round and admission is free. The site is easily accessible from downtown Sitka and can be reached on foot. Parking is available nearby. Visitors should be prepared for inclement weather and wear sturdy shoes for climbing the stairs.


Castle Hill is a 28-acre city park that played an important role in Sitka’s history. Located just north of downtown Sitka, Castle Hill was the site of the 1804 Battle of Sitka when the Tlingit fought unsuccessfully against the Russians to retain control of their homeland. Today, Castle Hill offers excellent views overlooking downtown Sitka, Crescent Harbor, and the surrounding mountains.

A paved path leads from the parking area up to an open clearing on top of the hill. Interpretive signs describe the history of Castle Hill along with the various landmarks visible from the hilltop. On a clear day, you can see to the dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe. The views are equally impressive at night when you can gaze out over the twinkling lights of downtown and the harbor.

In addition to the history and views, Castle Hill is a popular spot for picnics. Multiple picnic tables and benches are available, making this a favorite gathering place for both locals and visitors. Whether you come for the history lesson or simply to take in Sitka’s gorgeous scenery, Castle Hill should be at the top of your Sitka sightseeing list.

Sitka National Historical Park

Name and Location: Sitka National Historical Park, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Sitka National Historical Park preserves the site of a battle between the Tlingit people and Russian traders in 1804. The park also showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Tlingit, who have lived in the area for thousands of years. The park features numerous totem poles, a historic Russian Bishop’s House, and a cultural center.

What to Expect:
Visitors can explore the park’s well-maintained trails, which wind through lush rainforest and along the coast. The totem poles are a highlight, with many beautiful and intricate designs. The Russian Bishop’s House offers guided tours, providing insight into the Russian colonial period. The cultural center hosts exhibitions and demonstrations related to Tlingit art and culture.

Visitor Information: The park is open year-round, with reduced hours during the winter months. Admission is free. The visitor center is located at the park entrance and provides maps, information, and restrooms. Guided tours and ranger-led programs are available during the summer. The park is accessible on foot from downtown Sitka.


Sitka National Historical Park commemorates the Tlingit and Russian experiences in Alaska. This 113-acre park is located along the shore of Sitka Sound, just northwest of downtown Sitka. The park offers visitors the chance to explore Totem Trail, a scenic path that winds through the lush temperate rainforest past many totem poles. You’ll also find the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center where Native dance groups perform and Tlingit artists demonstrate their work.

Make sure to visit the Visitor Center which features cultural displays and a gift shop with Native handicrafts. Rangers also provide informative talks on Tlingit and Russian history. One of the highlights is a guided walk to the site of the 1804 Battle of Sitka when Tlingit warriors defended their settlement against the Russians. Though outnumbered, the Tlingits put up a courageous fight before the Russians eventually prevailed. Remnants of the Russian settlement are visible across the sound at Redoubt Saint Michael.

From breathtaking scenery to fascinating history and culture, Sitka National Historical Park provides an excellent introduction to Alaska and its indigenous people.

Sitka Sound Oceanfront State Recreation Area

Name and Location: Sitka Sound Oceanfront State Recreation Area, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Sitka Sound Oceanfront State Recreation Area is a popular spot for outdoor recreation and enjoying the scenic beauty of Sitka Sound. The area has been used for fishing, hunting, and gathering by the Tlingit people for generations.

What to Expect:
The recreation area offers a variety of activities, including beachcombing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can often spot bald eagles, seals, and whales from the shore. The area also features a campground with tent sites and RV parking.

Visitor Information: The recreation area is open year-round and admission is free. Camping fees apply for overnight stays. The campground is equipped with restrooms and water. Visitors should be prepared for cool, wet weather and bring appropriate gear for outdoor activities.


For dazzling ocean views and beachcombing opportunities, head to Sitka Sound Oceanfront State Recreation Area. Located just 1.5 miles north of downtown Sitka along Sawmill Creek Road, this 25-acre park sits directly alongside the beautiful blue waters of Sitka Sound.

Several picnic areas with tables are located near the water, allowing you to relax and enjoy the fresh breezes and gorgeous views across Sitka Sound toward the imposing Mount Edgecumbe volcano. A short trail leads along the shore, perfect for a seaside stroll. Make sure to check the tide pools at low tide where you may spot sea stars, anemones, and other intertidal sea life. You can also try your hand at beachcombing along the gravel shore which yields agates, colorful stones, driftwood, and other ocean treasures.

If you brought along your rod and reel, you can fish for rockfish and salmon right from shore. A boat launch provides easy access for kayakers, canoers, and standup paddleboarders wanting to explore Sitka Sound as well. With its diversity of amenities and picture-perfect setting, the Sitka Sound Oceanfront State Recreation Area shouldn’t be missed.

Starrigavan Recreation Area

Name and Location: Starrigavan Recreation Area, located 7 miles north of Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Starrigavan Recreation Area is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The area is named after the nearby Starrigavan Creek, which is an important spawning ground for salmon.

What to Expect:
The recreation area features a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to more challenging backcountry routes. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, wildlife viewing, and fishing in the creek. The area also has a campground, picnic sites, and a day-use shelter.

Visitor Information: Starrigavan Recreation Area is open year-round and admission is free. Camping fees apply for overnight stays. The campground has restrooms, water, and bear-proof food storage lockers. Visitors should be bear aware and practice Leave No Trace principles. The recreation area is located 7 miles north of Sitka and can be reached by car.


Nestled in a picturesque valley 7 miles north of Sitka lies Starrigavan Recreation Area, a popular spot among locals and visitors. This 265-acre park contains multiple hiking trails that wind through the lush temperate rainforest and follow the shoreline of Starrigavan Bay. Numerous recreational opportunities include camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, swimming, and playing on the new playground.

The nearby historic Harmon Sawmill and Herring Cove Trail tell the story of Sitka’s timber industry while also displaying industrial relics. Guided walks are available in summer. Starrigavan Campground contains 13 drive-in campsites and 4 walk-in sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. The surrounding lush forest muffles any city noise, ensuring you fall asleep to just the soft lullaby of the bay’s waves. Make sure to check the programming schedule as ranger-led programs on nature, conservation and local heritage often take place here.

From leisurely shoreline strolls to more intense hikes into the hills, Starrigavan Recreation Area appeals to nature lovers of all activity levels. Located only a few miles away from downtown Sitka, this beautiful park truly displays Alaska’s splendor.

Shea Playground

Name and Location: Shea Playground, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Shea Playground is a community park and playground located in a residential area of Sitka. The playground is named after a local family who donated the land for the park.

What to Expect:
The playground features modern play equipment, including swings, slides, and climbing structures. The park also has picnic tables and open grassy areas for games and relaxation.

Visitor Information: Shea Playground is open year-round and admission is free. The park is located in a residential neighborhood and can be reached on foot or by car. Parking is available on nearby streets. Restrooms are not available on site.


For some family-friendly fun, bring the kids to the Shea Playground located behind Sitka High School. This city park features numerous play structures including twisting slides, challenging climbing walls, swinging monkey bars, and a rotating merry-go-round. Open grassy areas are perfect for playing tag or throwing a ball around.

A baseball field lies adjacent to the playground for either casual games or league play. Basketball hoops and a skate park are also found at the south end of the park by the playground parking lot. A covered picnic shelter is available on a first-come, first-served basis to host a birthday party or family gathering. Restrooms are open during the summer months.

With its variety of amenities, the Shea Playground is a wonderful park where kids can run, jump, swing, slide and expend all that youthful energy while parents relax on the sidelines. The playground is open year-round and provides a fun, safe place for children of all ages to play.

Thimbleberry Park

Name and Location: Thimbleberry Park, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Thimbleberry Park is a small neighborhood park located in a residential area of Sitka. The park is named after the thimbleberry, a type of raspberry that grows in the area.

What to Expect:
The park features a small playground, picnic tables, and a grassy area for relaxation and play. It is a quiet, peaceful spot for families and neighborhood residents to enjoy.

Visitor Information: Thimbleberry Park is open year-round and admission is free. The park is located in a residential neighborhood and can be reached on foot. Parking is available on nearby streets. Restrooms are not available on site.


Nestled on 13 acres in the heart of Sitka lies Thimbleberry Park, a beautiful green space featuring winding walking paths, a charming stream, and a quaint wooden bridge. Lush ferns, colorful wildflowers, berries and other native plants flourish throughout the park. Benches are conveniently located for taking a break to enjoy the peaceful natural surroundings.

A central grassy field provides the kids ample room to play catch, fly kites or simply run free. You may also spot local artists painting scenes of tranquil park scenery. Community events like summer concerts or holiday celebrations occasionally take place at the park’s open-air band shell.

Thimbleberry Park contains public restrooms and a small playground for the little ones. Leashed dogs are welcome in certain areas of the park. Whether you come for wildflower viewing in spring, berry picking in late summer or just to relax surrounded by nature, Thimbleberry Park enchants visitors with its tranquil beauty.

Sandy Beach

Name and Location: Sandy Beach, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Sandy Beach is a popular local beach and recreation area in Sitka. The beach has long been a gathering place for residents and visitors alike.

What to Expect:
The beach features a long stretch of sand and gravel, with views of the surrounding islands and mountains. Visitors can enjoy beachcombing, picnicking, and swimming in the cool waters of Sitka Sound. The beach also has a volleyball court and a covered picnic shelter.

Visitor Information: Sandy Beach is open year-round and admission is free. The beach is located just outside of downtown Sitka and can be reached by car or on foot. Parking is available at the beach. Restrooms and changing areas are available on site.


When you visit a seaside town like Sitka, finding an enticing beach comes high on the priority list. Located 1.2 miles south of downtown Sitka in Starrigavan Valley, the Sandy Beach Picnic Area more than delivers with nearly a mile of sandy shore hugging Sitka Sound. The gently sloped beach provides perfect conditions for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and beach play.

Volleyball nets are set up in summer for casual games, while multiple picnic tables offer seaside dining vistas. Grassy expanses behind the pebbly sand are ideal for Frisbee, lawn games or simply soaking up some sun. A public restroom and ample parking round out the amenities.

Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles commonly seen soaring over the picnic area and beach in search of their next meal. Sandy Beach presents an easily accessible slice of beachside bliss without having to stray far from Sitka’s main attractions.

Kimsham Memorial Park

Name and Location: Kimsham Memorial Park, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Kimsham Memorial Park is a small neighborhood park located in a residential area of Sitka. The park is dedicated to the memory of a local resident.

What to Expect:
The park features a small playground, picnic tables, and a grassy area for relaxation and play. It is a quiet, peaceful spot for families and neighborhood residents to enjoy.

Visitor Information: Kimsham Memorial Park is open year-round and admission is free. The park is located in a residential neighborhood and can be reached on foot. Parking is available on nearby streets. Restrooms are not available on site.


Tucked along a quiet cove on Sitka’s eastern shore lies Kimsham Memorial Park, providing visitors a chance to experience a more remote side of Sitka. Trails meander along the rocky coast past twisted hemlock and spruce trees. Fishing perches and scattered picnic areas allow you to relax and enjoy the serene setting.

A salient feature is the unusual mushroom-shaped concrete structure along the shore. This oddity was built in 1971 by resident John Kimsham who embedded various symbolic items into the concrete including historic guns, chains, coins, antlers and civilian/military medals. After Kimsham died in 1975, the state took possession and made it into a public park that locals frequent today for its scenic shoreline.

The cove itself offers relatively protected waters for launching kayaks, canoes, or standup paddleboards. You may also try casting for salmon or rockfish right from shore. Be on the lookout for soaring eagles, curious seals, and sea otters that frequent the area. Kimsham Memorial Park delivers lovely vistas coupled with an intriguing shoreline structure.

Indian River Trail

Name and Location: Indian River Trail, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: The Indian River Trail follows the scenic Indian River through the heart of Sitka. The river and surrounding area have long been important to the Tlingit people for fishing and transportation.

What to Expect:
The trail is a popular hiking and walking route, offering beautiful views of the river and surrounding rainforest. The trail is well-maintained and relatively easy, with some gentle hills and stairs. Along the way, visitors can see wildlife, including salmon during spawning season.

Visitor Information: The Indian River Trail is open year-round and admission is free. The trailhead is located near the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center and can be reached on foot. Parking is available at the visitor center. The trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for wet weather.


Nature enthusiasts will love immersing themselves in Sitka’s lush rainforests along the peaceful Indian River Trail. Starting across from Sitka Community Hospital, this 4-mile multiuse path follows the scenic Indian River through valleys, across bridges past rapids, and under the towering rainforest canopy.

Several access points with parking allow you to tailor your own custom hike along the entire trail or just small segments. Benches interspersed along the path provide spots to pause and appreciate your pristine natural surroundings teeming with ferns, berries, colorful wildflowers, soaring spruce and hemlock trees draped in moss.

The river itself offers excellent salmon fishing as well as picturesque picnic areas to enjoy riverside. Keep your eyes peeled for Sitka black-tailed deer, red squirrels, and many bird species. The Indian River Trail allows you to temporarily exchange cityscapes for magnificent Alaskan wilderness right on Sitka’s doorstep.

Kramer Park

Name and Location: Kramer Park, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Kramer Park is a small neighborhood park located in a residential area of Sitka. The park is named after a local family who donated the land for the park.

What to Expect:
The park features a small playground, picnic tables, and a grassy area for relaxation and play. It is a quiet, peaceful spot for families and neighborhood residents to enjoy.

Visitor Information: Kramer Park is open year-round and admission is free. The park is located in a residential neighborhood and can be reached on foot. Parking is available on nearby streets. Restrooms are not available on site.


Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in downtown Sitka lies Kramer Park, a charming and relaxing green space. Mature trees provide ample shade over the meadow lined with benches. A unique feature is the Sundial Bridge, an artistic footbridge shaped in a large arc spanning Indian River. Not only serving as a scenic bridge, it actually functions as a sundial! Bronze markers in the railing and on surrounding rocks indicate the months, dates, and times, using the bridge’s shadow as the sundial’s gnomon.

Kramer Park also contains a quaint one-room log cabin believed to be among the oldest surviving buildings in Sitka. Known as Baranof’s Castle, the diminutive cabin dates back to around 1808-1809 based on the construction techniques. It may have even once served as the Russian governor’s residence!

With its unexpected sundial bridge, historic log cabin, and location abutting Indian River, Kramer Park packs plenty of charm into its small size. It serves as an ideal spot for a picnic or enjoying a little slice of nature without straying far from Sitka’s downtown attractions.

Whale Park

Name and Location: Whale Park, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Whale Park is a popular waterfront park and lookout point in Sitka. The park is named for the frequent whale sightings that occur in the surrounding waters.

What to Expect:
The park features a large grassy area, picnic tables, and benches overlooking the water. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of Sitka Sound and the surrounding islands and mountains. The park is a popular spot for whale watching, especially during the summer months.

Visitor Information: Whale Park is open year-round and admission is free. The park is located just outside of downtown Sitka and can be reached by car or on foot. Parking is available at the park. Restrooms are not available on site. Visitors should bring binoculars or a camera for whale watching and be prepared for cool, wet weather.


While Sitka offers no shortage of picturesque parks, Whale Park stands out even among Sitka’s scenic highlights. Perched 130-feet above Sitka Sound, Whale Park treats you to unobstructed ocean views, from the snow-capped peaks on Kruzof Island across the cobalt blue waters to Baranof Island’s rugged western coast.

Located across from Sitka Community Hospital, the park features a covered picnic shelter, walking paths that descend to the shoreline, and a fascinating sculpture made from a fin whale skeleton located near the cliff’s edge. educational signs detail Sitka’s long history of whaling from when Native hunters first harvested whales to the rise and fall of commercial whaling that brought fleets of whalers to local waters. Keep your eyes peeled for whales which are still commonly seen from the clifftop vista today.

Whether you come just to take in the sweeping panoramas or to spot spouts on the horizon, Whale Park presents some of the most stunning vistas you’ll find anywhere in southeast Alaska — an ideal location to observe whales and appreciate their magnificence.

Baranof Castle State Historic Site

Name and Location: Baranof Castle State Historic Site, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: Baranof Castle State Historic Site, also known as Castle Hill, is a significant historical landmark in Sitka. It was the site of the transfer ceremony when Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. The hill was originally fortified by the Tlingit people and later became the location of the Russian governor’s residence.

What to Expect:
Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of Castle Hill for panoramic views of Sitka Sound and the surrounding islands. Interpretive signs provide information about the site’s history. The hill is a popular spot for picnics and photography.

Visitor Information: Baranof Castle State Historic Site is open year-round and admission is free. The site is easily accessible from downtown Sitka and can be reached on foot. Parking is available nearby. Visitors should be prepared for inclement weather and wear sturdy shoes for climbing the stairs.


While Sitka’s pivot from Tlingit to Russian control resulted in great hardship for the Native community, it also birthed Alaska’s fascinating era of Russian America. You can step back in time to the glory days of Russian Sitka at the Baranof Castle State Historic Site perched atop Castle Hill overlooking downtown.

The focal point is a replica of Baranof Castle constructed on the presumed site where the imposing three-story structure originally stood until burning down in 1894. Interpretive displays and dioramas immerse you into daily life as a Russian colonial under the imperial Russian American Company’s rule. Costumed guides offer additional insights during the frequent castle tours.

Outside, you can view the various landmarks visible from this prominent hilltop that helped the Russians strategically defend Sitka from foreign attacks and Tlingit resistance. Wander the surrounding boardwalk to better envisage 19th-century Sitka laid out below. For history buffs, Baranof Castle brings the era of Russian America to life through multimedia exhibits and swooping coastal vantage points.

Sitka National Park Trails

Name and Location: Sitka National Park Trails, located in Sitka, Alaska.

History and Significance: The trails in Sitka National Historical Park wind through lush rainforest and along the coast, offering visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and cultural history of the area. The park preserves the site of a battle between the Tlingit people and Russian traders in 1804 and showcases the rich heritage of the Tlingit.

What to Expect:
The park features several well-maintained trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The Totem Trail is a popular easy walk that takes visitors past numerous beautiful and intricate totem poles. The Russian Memorial Loop Trail offers views of the park’s historic Russian Bishop’s House. The Battlefield Trail leads to the site of the 1804 battle between the Tlingit and Russians.

Visitor Information: The trails in Sitka National Historical Park are open year-round, with reduced hours during the winter months. Admission to the park is free. The visitor center is located at the park entrance and provides maps, information, and restrooms. Guided tours and ranger-led programs are available during the summer. Visitors should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for cool, wet weather. The trails are accessible on foot from downtown Sitka.


While the Totem Trail draws the largest crowds, the 113 acres of Sitka National Historical Park hold over 3 miles of scenic coastal trails that immerse you in the lush beauty of southeast Alaska’s temperate rainforests.

Follow the Forest & Fortress Trails across open meadows carpeted in wildflowers before winding up through moss-draped hemlock forest. Catch views of Crescent Harbor and dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe soaring across Sitka Sound.

The Waterfall Trail as the name implies leads through verdant forest and along a petite waterfall tumbling downward toward the ocean’s edge. Signage details traditional Tlingit uses of various plants you encounter along the pathways. With multiple interconnected trails traversing the park, it makes selecting the optimal route easy to match time and fitness level.

Take a Ranger-led walk or set out to explore these paths on your own to surround yourself with the poetic beauty of Alaska’s coastal forests, all just steps from Sitka’s downtown hub.

Conclusion


From rich indigenous cultural displays at museums and historic sites to majestic wildlife viewing and endless stretches of pristine wilderness, Sitka serves up ample opportunities to experience Alaska at its finest. As one of Alaska’s top cruise destinations, Sitka captivates visitors with dramatic scenery, fascinating history, vibrant cultural opportunities, culinary delights, and an abundance of nearby natural splendor.

Sitka’s 12 parks listed here are just a sample of what this beautiful seaside town has to offer. Whether you come to immerse yourself in history at Castle Hill or Russian Bishop’s House, experience Tlingit culture at Sitka National Historical Park, or surround yourself with the beauty of Alaska’s wilderness along secluded coastal trails, Sitka provides something to delight everyone.

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