Updated on February 25, 2020
It may happen to you to have to stay in King Salmon. This is a deserted place in remote Alaska, and the main building there is an airport. People are coming here for fishing or on their way to Katmai National Park. If it happens to you just read below how to kill your time.
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Welcome to King Salmon, Alaska
– How are you? – local guy drinking something, in almost empty, Sockeye Saloon, King Salmon asked Chris.
– Good! And how are you? – answered Chris.
– Great! What do you plan to drink? They don’t have draft beers… I recommend Moscow mule! It’s delicious!
We were wondering how to fill our evening. The airline canceled return flight, and we were stuck for another night in small King Salmon. The village consisted of the airport, two inns, one bar and saloon, and a couple of grocery stores. Everything else was not relevant to us at the time. We stayed for the second time in one of the cabins of expensive Antlers Inn, just a minute walk from Sockeye Saloon (according to google maps, it is 37 minutes walk from the airport, in reality, it was only 5 minutes everywhere!).
Cabins were rather poky but good enough for one night. But… Actually, it was our second night here. Our original flight here a couple of days ago was canceled as well, so we were stuck in this place for the second time. If you spend two nights in such a small village (only 374 people live here as of 2010), you feel to know everyone and know everything about the place. This is how we felt. Like a local.
So Chris joined Rick and ordered Moscow Mule served by Sarah, and we started to talk. Agnes, as usual, was drinking the cheapest and the only red wine one could buy in this deserted place and was taking pictures to kill time. To Chris’ surprise, the drink was perfect! He started to talk with Rick, who was working here during the season as a logistic guy, earning very good money and spending almost all of them in the local bars for alcohol and weed – it is legal in Alaska. It is just nothing else to do here.
How it happened?
Oh yeah, we owe you the explanation of how we ended up the second night in King Salmon. The original plan was to get to Katmai National Park. To get there from Anchorage, you have a couple of options. First, you can go on an organized excursion. Second, you can catch the regular plane to King Salmon then charter to Katmai. Third, charter from Anchorage to Katmai with stopover in King Salmon (you must switch the planes from regular one to seaplane). There’s fourth option to get to Katmai by water taxi from King Salmon, but it seemed too dull to us. We decide to go to seaplane.
The only option to get to King Salmon is by air. There are no roads. In the 1930s, the US government built an air navigation silo at the site of present-day King Salmon. During World World II, the US Army Air Forces built an airbase around the silo. In the 1940s and 1950s, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed 25km long road from King Salmon to Naknek. In 1956 they opened King Salmon Inn. Now the King Salmon is a government transportation and service and shipment center for the commercial red salmon and sport fishing industries. The Air Force based was closed in 1993 and keeps caretaker status, and due to this fact, King Salmon Airport is now a public access airport. For us, King Salmon was just a getaway to Katmai National Park!
Where to sleep?
So what you usually do if stuck in such a place? First of all, you arrange a place to sleep. We had a tent, but there was nowhere to put it up. So we had to book a night in Antlers Inn – out first night was 165 USD, but the second was cheaper (winter season just started on Aug 31st) – only 139 USD! The owner was really kind to us, maybe because she was flying with us to King Salmon on this fatal rescheduled flight. And it was the price for a cabin, not room in the Inn! Of course, we had hot water and a bed, but that’s it! Poky, we said…
The evening was progressing quickly toward the dark night. We finished the Moscow Mule. Paul – the local guy – joined us at the bar. Our dialogue was going pretty lovely, so Rick decided to buy us a drink – a strange local shot. Chris welcomed this idea really well, and Sarah served them. Rick was surprised how Chris swallowed the drink, and then he realized we are Polish guys, so drinks are our regular diet.
Rick and Paul decided to get some break because it was late, but we agreed to meet later for a pizza in Eddies (it got dark in the meantime, and guys had to go for something stronger). We moved to Eddies and ordered the only pizza in town! Just frozen pizza prepared in the oven on your eyes. Once in a lifetime experience. Chris ordered a rum shot and Agnes another glass of awful red wine, again the only one available.
When it got completely dark in the village, Rick and Paul joined us back in the Eddies. This time we decided to buy them a shot…. thanks to Revolut card – we have it, and only it worked in this place! (You should have one for such a trip – just use this link to order yours and support us!)
The night was long, so the next day was tough. We woke up with some light hangover, and needed a morning coffee. Cabins had coffee machines, so it was on the right side. We quickly packed up and took 5 minutes to walk to the airport. Fortunately, we caught our windy and bumpy flight back to Anchorage.
Before You Go – Practical Information
Who is interested in visiting King Salmon?
King Salmon might be interesting for anglers and photographers, but mainly for people on their way to Katmai National Park – this is a kind of gateway to the park.
You can get to King Salmon two ways:
There are no roads here.
There are two Inns in the town – Antlers Inn and Eddie’s Fireplace Inn. You can find some Airbnb options as well, but they are far from the center. All are rather expensive and targeted for more extended stays. No campground in the town, so make sure to have a place to sleep. Otherwise, you can try to survive to late at night in one of the bars.
There is a gas station, post office, bank, car rental, and ATM in the town, as well as a taxi service. Mobile phone coverage is limited, and only Verizon phones were working as of August 2019. Wifi is available only in the Antlers Inn for guests or as a separately paid service.
Sources of information about the history of the King Salmon:
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