Chignik means ‘big wind’in Aleut, and this little city in Alaska is not your usual holiday destination. Located near the northern end of the world about 400 miles from Anchorage and 260 miles of Kodiak, the city sits on the southern shore of the Alaska Peninsula and has a population of less than 100 (as of February 2015). The city can be reached via air and sea, though services are rather limited - flights to Chignik are only available from the region of King Salmon and occasionally from Anchorage, and ferry services are available on a bi-monthly basis only from Kodiak (and the ride takes about 18 hours). Though the city has neighbours about 15 miles away - the villages of Chignik Lake and Chignik Lagoon - these can’t be accessed by road as yet, making Chignik a rather secluded area. Its economy is centred around commercial fishing, with Pacific Salmon, halibut and cod as the main catches.
Difficult though Chignik is to get to, the city makes up for it with its unique natural attractions such as craggy, dramatic mountains, rocky shores, lakes, waterfalls, its own salmon run and plenty more. The city’s climate is also pleasantly mild, contrary to popular belief about Alaska being freezing cold - temperatures range from about -7 to 16 degrees celsius.
Most locals get around Chignik on four-wheel drive vehicles or ATVs. Small boats such as skiffs docked at the city’s public harbor are also commonly used. There does not appear to be an established public transport network in Chignik as of February 2015.
What to see and do
Chignik’s Castle Cape is definitely worth a look - situated on an outcrop from the Alaska Peninsula, Castle Cape consists of craggy rock formations along a rocky coastline that roughly assume the look of a castle with towers and turrets. A noted landmark for ships, it is also an excellent place for wildlife watching (be it for marine or land creatures).
Chignik Lake is also a great spot for a visit, especially during salmon season in the months of August and September. Witness the Pacific Salmon’s desperate migration from the ocean back to the river and onwards upstream - through currents, rapids, bears and fishermen - towards their spawning ground, all the sake of reproducing before dying where they were born. Affectionately known as ‘Humpies’to the local folk, salmon season is a time of great excitement and activity as rivers become full of struggling salmon and people get out their fishing rods to try their luck snagging some of them.
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