Geography of Yakutat Borough, Alaska

Geography of Yakutat Borough, Alaska

Yakutat Borough, located in the southeastern part of the state of Alaska, is a region of stunning natural beauty characterized by its rugged coastline, towering mountains, vast glaciers, and abundant wildlife. Covering an area of approximately 9,463 square miles, Yakutat Borough is one of the largest boroughs in Alaska, encompassing diverse landscapes and ecosystems.

Location and Borders

According to Health-Beauty-Guides, Yakutat Borough is situated on the Gulf of Alaska, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Saint Elias Mountains to the north. It is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest and is located approximately 200 miles northwest of Juneau, the capital city of Alaska. The borough is sparsely populated, with most of its inhabitants residing in the town of Yakutat, the only significant community in the area.

Topography and Terrain

The topography of Yakutat Borough is characterized by its rugged and mountainous terrain, with the Saint Elias Mountains dominating the northern part of the region. Mount Saint Elias, the second-highest peak in both the United States and Canada, rises to an elevation of over 18,000 feet within the borough. Numerous glaciers flow from the mountains into the surrounding valleys, creating a dramatic and dynamic landscape.

In addition to mountains and glaciers, Yakutat Borough features coastal plains, fjords, and deep valleys carved by ancient glaciers. The Malaspina Glacier, one of the largest piedmont glaciers in the world, covers a vast area of the borough’s coastal plain. This diverse terrain provides habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species, including bears, wolves, mountain goats, and bald eagles.

Climate

Yakutat Borough experiences a maritime climate, characterized by cool summers, mild winters, and abundant precipitation throughout the year. The moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean helps to regulate temperatures, resulting in relatively mild weather compared to other regions of Alaska. However, the borough’s proximity to the Gulf of Alaska also makes it susceptible to frequent storms and heavy rainfall, especially during the winter months.

Summer temperatures in Yakutat Borough typically range from the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit (10-20°C), while winter temperatures range from the 20s to 30s Fahrenheit (-6 to -1°C). Annual precipitation averages around 150 inches, with much of it falling as rain due to the maritime influence. Snowfall is common in the winter months, particularly at higher elevations.

Rivers and Streams

Yakutat Borough is home to several rivers and streams, which originate from the melting glaciers and snowfields in the surrounding mountains. These waterways provide important habitat for salmon and other fish species and support local ecosystems. The Situk River, renowned for its world-class sport fishing opportunities, flows through the borough and is a popular destination for anglers seeking trophy-size salmon and trout.

Other notable rivers in Yakutat Borough include the Italio River, Dangerous River, and Akwe River, each offering scenic beauty and recreational opportunities for visitors. These waterways also play a vital role in the cultural and subsistence activities of the indigenous Tlingit people, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years.

Glaciers

Glaciers are a defining feature of the landscape in Yakutat Borough, with numerous glaciers covering vast areas of the region. These glaciers, including the Hubbard Glacier, Yakutat Glacier, and Guyot Glacier, are remnants of the last ice age and continue to shape the terrain through processes of erosion and deposition. Visitors to Yakutat Borough can witness the breathtaking sight of glaciers calving into the ocean and explore ice caves and crevasses under the guidance of experienced guides.

Coastline and Fjords

The coastline of Yakutat Borough is characterized by its rugged cliffs, rocky beaches, and pristine wilderness areas. The fjords of the region, formed by the retreat of glaciers during the last ice age, provide sheltered waters for marine life and offer spectacular views for visitors. Disenchantment Bay, located near the town of Yakutat, is home to the Hubbard Glacier and is a popular destination for cruise ships and wilderness enthusiasts.

Wildlife

Yakutat Borough is renowned for its abundant wildlife, including brown bears, black bears, moose, Sitka black-tailed deer, and a variety of bird species. The region’s remote and undeveloped wilderness areas provide important habitat for these animals, making it a prime destination for wildlife viewing and photography. The coastal waters of the borough are also rich in marine life, with opportunities to spot whales, sea otters, seals, and sea lions.

Conclusion

Yakutat Borough, Alaska, is a region of unparalleled natural beauty, characterized by its rugged mountains, vast glaciers, and pristine wilderness areas. From the towering peaks of the Saint Elias Mountains to the calving glaciers of the coastline, the geography of Yakutat Borough offers a diverse array of landscapes and ecosystems to explore and appreciate. Whether hiking through ancient forests, fishing in pristine rivers, or witnessing the spectacle of glaciers in motion, visitors to Yakutat Borough are sure to be captivated by its awe-inspiring geography and abundant wildlife.