“Opening of Daylight”

The word Kake comes from the Tlingit word “Keix’,” meaning “opening of daylight.” Nestled in the Tongass National Forest, the community is blessed with breathtaking scenery. Kake is in many ways a traditional Tlingit town, and is home to one of the world’s largest totem poles. 

Kake is located 100 miles south of Juneau on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island in the Alexander Archipelago.

This beautiful beachfront village has been home to the Kake tribe of Tlingit Native Americans for thousands of years and nearly 70% of the 500 current residents are of Tlingit heritage.  In fact, the word Kake comes from the Tlingit word “Keix’,” meaning “opening of daylight” and many of the Tlingit traditions remain at the foundation of the community; with the people of Kake continuing to live off of the land through hunting, fishing and gathering vegetation.

Visitors to Kake find themselves immersed in steep heritage as they experience the community’s traditional dancing, storytelling, basket weaving, beading and carving. However, one of the village’s most iconic traditions is to stand at the foot of the village’s 132-foot totem pole to learn the history and heritage of the community. The totem pole was created in 1971 by a trained Native carver and raised according to traditional ceremony it is recorded as one of the world’s tallest sanctioned totem poles.

The Keku Cannery is another popular stop. The historic salmon-packing cannery was an economic driver for the city during the early part of the 20th century.  in 1997 it was listed as a National Historic Landmark, as the best-preserved Alaska salmon cannery in Southeast, with original worker housing, boardwalks between buildings, and period machinery.

When not exploring the historic buildings and traditions of Kake, visitors often chose to embark on their own wildlife adventure; hiking through one of the area’s several trails discovering waterfalls, fishing or wandering along a stretch of beach.

Eagles, black bear and whales can all be seen from the shore.  Sitka black-tailed deer, Alexander Archipelago wolves, beaver, porcupine, red squirrel, marten, moose and around 300 species of birds all can be found among the vistas of blue-gray seas and dense forested lands of the island, however, most animals prefer to stay hidden from sight.

Unlike other communities of the region, Kake does have roads and a small number of trucks are available for rent on the island so that visitors can get around town, explore old logging roads on Kupreanof Island, and find popular trailheads. Some visitors also opt to rent a vehicle in Juneau or Petersburg and bring it to Kake by ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway. This option may require an extra day of travel, but may be worth it for those who want a guaranteed way to see more of the island.

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the Fourth of July, the day’s celebrations offer an unforgettable experience. Good food, good fun and grand fireworks are the order of the day with parades, vendors and a variety of family-friendly events.

Should you miss Fourth of July, other annual events include Kake Day, which occurs in January and celebrates the city’s legacy as the first Native village to incorporate under Federal law; and the summer Dog Salmon Festival that celebrates the bounty of Mother Nature.


In Kake, black bear eagles and whales are all lured to shore in search of the tasty fish that populate the waters.  This makes a lazy stroll on the beach an easy way to spot some of Kake’s most famous creatures.

If you arrive by boat, otters can be seen floating on their backs in the waters approaching Kake.  Kupreanof Island is also home to Sitka black-tailed deer, Alexander Archipelago wolves, beaver, porcupine, red squirrel, marten, moose and nearly 300 species of birds. Birds are the most visible of these native creatures as most of the others prefer to stay out of sight.

If your hope is to to see signs of wolf, head toward Hamilton Creek or Big John Bay.

Activity Highlights

BEAR and EAGLES WATCHING – Eagles are frequently spotted during a visit to Kake and its not unusual to see a black bear taking a stroll up the street.  However, there is nothing like watching them fish and amble about in their more natural habitat. For the best bear watching on the island, head to Gunnuk Creek and stake out your location at Silver Spike Bridge.  The bear viewing platform at the old Gunnuk Creek Fish Hatchery is another perfect place to watch the bears in action.

WHALE WATCHING – Point White Junior and Long Beach are two of the best places in Kake to watch for whales as they feed, breech and play. Pack a picnic lunch and bring your binoculars to help you spot the whales off shore.

KAKE DOG SALMON FESTIVAL – The Kake Dog Salmon Festival, informally cofounded by former Kake Tribal Corporation President Gordon Jackson and Juneau resident Peter Metcalfe during a fisheries meeting in 1994, was first organized to celebrate the one millionth pound of salmon processed at the local plant. Now the festival celebrates area fisherman and past cannery workers, and has become a major community event; the town of just over 700 residents has seen as many as 400 visitors attend the day-long festival. For event schedule and additional information, please follow the link to the Kake Tribal Corporation website: http://www.kaketribalcorporation.com/dogsalmon.html

***Note – For your safety and the safety of the wildlife, please resist approaching animals. Know bear safety guidelines, especially if you are hiking out on the trails.***


Kake is accessible by boat or airplane. The community has a runway, so visitors can arrive on a wheeled plane instead of a float.

Alaska Seaplanes Service provides service 3 times daily in summer and 1-2 times daily in winter. Charter service, weather permitting is also available.

Ferry: The Alaska Marine Highway System
The Alaska Marine Highway System offers an 8-hour ferry ride between Juneau and Kake a few times a week year-round. Call the AMHS reservation call center at 800-642-0066.


There are two primary lodges available in Kake so reservations are encouraged.

Keex’ Kwaan Lodge

Website: www.kakealaska.com

Phone:  (907)723-8386

Email: lodge@kakealaska.com

Located near the beach and in close proximity to the local store, Ferry system, and the up and coming Historic Cannery Preservation Dock. The lodge  features a local observatory hosted by the Gunnuk Creek Hatchery.

Black Bears and Eagles can often be seen during the summer months when the Dog Salmon run up the creek.

Waterfront Lodge

Phone:  (907) 785-3472

Email: pattimhandy@yahoo.com

Mailing: 222 Keku Road, Kake, AK 99830

A relaxing stay in charming surroundings with excellent service and a convenient central location.  Lodge features comfortable rooms, a first-rate restaurant and exclusive service.