Sitka Small Group Scenic Tour: Totem Poles, Sitka History, and Fortress of the Bears

Experienced local guides will share their knowledge of the beautiful Sitka region and wildlife with guests on this 2-hour tour. Stroll throughout lofty totem poles in the Sitka National Historical Park, observe brown bears up close at the Fortress of the Bears, and take in the stunning scenery that Sitka has to offer. Japonski Island, O'Connell Bridge, Alaska Pioneer Home, Sheldon Jackson Museum, and St. Michael's Cathedral will be viewed along the ride through town as well. A personalized introduction to Sitka awaits guests on this locally run, small group tour.

After a quick shuttle ride into the town of Sitka, guests will begin their small group tour from the Visitor Center. A comfortable and smaller capacity van will transport guests throughout their expedition in Sitka; positioned at the edge of Baranof Island towards the end of the Inside Passage. Driving over O'Connell Bridge will give guests a wonderful view of Sitka and transport them to Japonski Island, where Sitka's history in World War II will be revealed.

Guests will then be transported within their small group to Alaska's oldest national park, Sitka National Historical Park. A stunning stroll through the Tlingit and Haida totem poles among spruce and hemlock trees awaits each guest on the breathtaking coastal trail. Joining a guide on a scenic walk looking out over the Indian River will educate guests on the salmon life cycle, and midseason opportunities to observe spawning.

The next stop brings guests to the popular Fortress of the Bears; a naturalized habitat offering visitors opportunities for up-closing viewing (within 25 feet!) of local rescued brown bears. Set along the National Forest, the 3/4 acre environment is the largest bear dwelling in North America. Skilled rescuers will share their experience, care and knowledge of a generally feared, yet revered forest dweller. Guests will learn the challenges these rescuers face in the pursuit to protect these amazing creatures.

The local guide will bring attention to historical gems like the Sitka Pioneer Home, Sheldon Jackson Museum, St. Michael's Cathedral, and the Sitka Sound Science Center throughout the tour. A keen eye can often spot wildlife along the way, so guests will want their cameras close at hand. The tour concludes with highlights of Sitka's wildlife and history before returning guests to the Visitor Center in the downtown area. Shopping is a mere 10-minute walk away for those with time to spare, or else guests can hop aboard a shuttle back to the ship terminal.

Included: Entrance and activity fees.

Please note: Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. A small amount of walking is involved. Maximum of 10 passengers.

Duration: 2 hours (Roundtrip from downtown Sitka.)


  • Entrance and activity fees


  • Due to seat availability and guest safety/comfort, passengers weighing 250 lbs or more should purchase an additional seat to reserve adequate space. 

Duration: 2 hours (tour times are approximate)

  • 40 minutes - total transport time to all attractions
  • 15~20 minutes - at Japonski Island for a photo opportunity
  • 30 minutes - Fortress of the bears
  • 30 minutes - Sitka National Historical Park
    • Guests will have a choice to drive back with a guide or stay longer and stroll the Sea walk back to town (a 15-20 minute walk to ship shuttle)

Meeting Instructions:

  • This tour meets downtown, and some guests will need to take a free shuttle. Fully detailed instructions are included on your finalized ticket vouchers. 

ADA Accessibility of Tour:

  • This tour is not wheelchair or limited mobility accessible.

Does the ticket price include admission to the places where this tour stops?

Yes, the ticket price covers all associated entry costs.  

How many passengers can fit in the tour van?

The maximum van capacity for this tour is 10 guests. If you have more than 10 passengers in your party, multiple vans will provide transportation for your group.

Can my child sit on my lap for this tour

All passengers on this tour need to have a seat of their own. Please leave a note in your order if you will be having a child under the age of 3 on the tour.

What is the seating arrangement of the tour bus?

There is open seating on the tour van, however if you require a certain seat due to a physical impairment then please inform your tour guide.

Will I see any wildlife or bears on this tour?

Wildlife is abundant in Southeast Alaska and sightings are possible on any tour. Bears will be viewable at the Fortress of the Bears stop during the tour.

Are there any age restrictions for children?

There are no age restrictions for this tour.

Can I bring a backpack?

Backpacks, small bags, and purses are allowed on this tour.

Can I bring my own food or drink?

Non-alcoholic beverages in closable containers and snacks are allowed on tour.

Are food and drink included?

No food or drinks are included.

What is the wheelchair accessibility of this excursion?

The transportation van does not have the capacity to accommodate most wheelchairs, collapsible or not, unfortunately. 

Not seeing answers to your questions?

Check out other frequently asked questions here!

Customer Reviews
Sep 2023 - Barbara F.

Beautiful day. Stopped for photos along the way. The Fortress of the Bear was wonderful. Great guide

Aug 2023 - Brian R.

The tour guide gave us a very interesting history of Sitka, the fortress of the bears was a little less than what I was expecting and we were only shown 2 totem poles.

Aug 2023 - Nora G.

I really enjoyed the tour. Our guide was very friendly and helpful. I loved the beautiful totem poles, the salmon swimming up stream, to see the man carving a totem pole and especially the bears. I found it very pleasant and informative. Thank You! Great Tour

Jul 2023 - Stephanie M.

Enjoyed the tour. Our tour leader was really good and friendly.

Jun 2023 - Erin W.

Nice excursion. Enjoyed seeing the rescue bears up close! 5 star!

May 2023 - Chloe L.

Steven was super knowledgable and fun to listen to. Small groups made it possible to ask any questions. This was a great excursion to see as much as possible for an affordable price. He had a great sound system that made it super easy to hear at the back of the bus. I wasn't a fan of the fortress of the bears because they were literally in concrete pens, but the tour was a good amount at each stops.

Aug 2022 - Joe P C.

The guide was outstanding. great overview of Sitka. Alaska Shore Excursions were exceptional to work with. They made it easy and everything was better than expected.

Jul 2022 - Joseph B.

This was a nice mellow tour. We got to see bears, totem poles, and some nature. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable.

May 2022 - Deborah H.

It was a fun day, the driver was knowledgeable and friendly. I enjoyed the comfortable seating on the vehicle. I highly recommend this tour.

May 2022 - Cherie W.

This small group tour was very nice, we were so happy that they waited for us when our ship was late getting us to the tour. We had a great time it was shortened a bit because of the lateness of our arrival.

Sep 2021 - Mark O.

The tour was interesting and informative. A good job of telling the history of Sitka that helped us understand the culture of the area. Fortress of the Bears was extremely crowded, but there was opportunity to get photos of the bears in a natural looking environment. The crowd at F of B, made it difficult to keep the group together. The salmon where numerous in the streams (early Sept.).

Aug 2021 - Susan H.

The benefit of this excursion is the transportation. Fortress of the bears was cool but crowded. We really liked the Totem park but parted ways with our group so we could have more time then we walked back to our final destination.

Sep 2019 - Joan P.

Nice excursion but only went for a little over 2 hours making it feel very rushed. Also no room for wheelchair making it difficult to navigate to most things. But guide was knowledgeable and bears were really neat to see so close.

Sep 2019 - Elisse H.

Excellent, guide (owner?) super knowledgeable

Sep 2019 - Diane V.

Loved our guide, full of local knowledge

Aug 2019 - Albert M.

Having a guide who grew up in the area was great and the Fortress of the Bears was a great way to learn about Alaskan bears.

Aug 2019 - Michelle T.

Unfortunately this tour wasn't as good as we expected. The guide kept asking if we had any questions but didn't really have any information about the history of Sitka to impart. We saw the bears for half an hour and then the totems and salmon for about 20 minutes and then back to the Centre. We had to get back for another group to go on another tour so the tour felt very short. Given all that Sitka has to offer this tour was not a good use of our time or money.

Aug 2019 - Lori L. C.

Tour guide was an awesome, quirky, funny, Alaskan original! I think it was Maria. She was so informative. Saw the salmon just lined up forever at the Totem Pole Site, and The Fortress of the Bears was so amazing. Thank you guys for showing us your beautiful home.

Aug 2019 - Nancy A.

I loved our tour guide. She grew up in the city and was very knowledgeable. She had a great personality and made the tour very enjoyable and unique. I also loved visiting the bears at the Fortress of the Bears and learning about their rescue efforts. Learning about the totem poles was also fascinating. Overall, an amazing tour. The only thing I would want differently is for it to last longer!

Aug 2019 - Richard N.

Great tour guide. She made us feel right at home with her very friendly attitude. Was very knowledgeable about Sitka.

Aug 2019 - Jan N.

Interesting tour and guide, who was a local, and very knowledgeable. Felt we got a good overview of the town and history of the city. Really enjoyed seeing the rescued bears along with the totem poles, flora and fauna. Good value.

Aug 2019 - Donald H.

Our tour guide was exceptional!

Jul 2019 - Deborah F.

This tour was very informative. The best part was Fortress of the Bears. Our tour guide was good and receptive to dropping us off at the Science Museum. The guide was on time and we we were back to port on time. We enjoyed this tour.

Jul 2019 - Rhonda D.

Loved learning some of the history of the area with our wonderful and funny guide. Really enjoyed going to the Fortress of the Bears, what a cool place.

Jun 2019 - Cobie S.

Enjoyed the excursions. Very informative. Our guide was very knowledgable and added to the experience.

May 2019 - Ronald S.

Excellent tour of Sitka. The tour guide was awesome!

May 2019 - Robert H.

We had a great time, the Fortress of the Bears building will be lovely. Our driver Deanna, was wonderful.

Sep 2018 - Kelly C.

MARIA is THE best. She's knowledgeable, funny and just someone I would want to be friends with. Thanks for a wonderful Sitka experience.

Aug 2018 - James R.

Great excursion, the smaller group size was very nice. Our driver was great, passionate about Alaska and her ancestry, very informative and a nice person. Very good value.

Aug 2018 - Mary L H.

Vivian was knowledgeable and informative! Wish we could have seen all the Tatum poles, didn't see the 2 in front. Loved the bears!

Jul 2018 - Brian C.

Fun and very informative. The only recommendation would be to have a small bottled water available in the van for each passenger.

Jun 2018 - David W.

An excellent tour of this nice little town. Our guide was very experienced and knowledgeable, and added a great deal of value through her commentary and explanations. She was enormously enthusiastic, to the extent that we were almost late back on the cruise ship!

Jun 2018 - Douglas N.

A small group of 12, in a mini bus driven by our guide Aatcheck ( sorry not sure of spelling). Started with a tour of Sitka, Aatcheck gave us lots of information about the town including things like the boarding school for children from small communities in the interior and further north. She identified many plants and told us about their medicinal uses and how the native Alaskans harvest and use them. The Fortress of the Bears - a sanctuary for orphaned and injured bears. The staff were friendly and keen to engage, we talked to Chris (who happened to come from a town 10 miles away from us at home in Devon. ) you will see bears, the Brown Bears are in pens which look rather spartan and untidy - apparently the bears have rearranged their surroundings! The Black Bears can come and go from the pen area near the viewing platform into the woods behind and can be more tricky to spot in the woods. We saw them in both places. It is perhaps more "zoo like" than we anticipated but it is a work in progress.

Jun 2018 - Lawrence S.

we had a fantastic time. Our tour group leader was Vivian Mork and she was incredible. She had a wealth of information for us and we could of listened to her all day. best thing we did on our cruise.

Oct 2017 - Sharon E.

Firey well informed guide. New bus.

Aug 2017 - Katharine K.

Enjoyed your very much. Our guide both knowledgeable and helpful.

Jun 2017 - Marie H.

What a great tour, our guide was fantastic, the Fortress of the Bears was GREAT we really enjoyed it. The history and the Totems were really interesting as well with a beautiful stop at the Totems.

May 2017 - Yuan X.

Sitka is small cute town. The first stop was by the bridge and you can see the faraway scenery, which was ok. The second stop was the Fortress of Bear, which is like a zoo with just bears. Above, you will see eagles, quite fascinating. The first stop was a park, quite a short walk. I wish it could be longer. Overall pleasant experience.

May 2017 - Jeffrey B.

Great tour Fran was excellent so enthusiastic about all she was showing us and very interesting.

May 2017 - Teri M.

This was a lovely tour of the town and our tour leader was very knowledgeable of all wildlife in the city, rain forest, and ocean. It was so sweet getting to see the bears and the scenery is to die for! If you want to see the entire town of Sitka and learn a lot about wildlife, you should sign up for this tour.

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Duration: 2 hours

Number of Passengers *

Max of 14

Adult: $79.00

Child (12 and under): $79.00

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