The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area honors both American service members and Native Aleuts whose lives were disrupted during the Aleutian Island chain's Japanese invasion in June of 1942. The site is an “Affiliated Area” of the National Park Service, which means a private organization (Ounalashka Corporation) operates it under the National Park Service's auspices. After the invasion, American forces rounded up the Aleuts and relocated them to the mainland near Anchorage. All Aleut homes, shops, and churches were destroyed in the process, and only a few have seen reconstruction. In memory of those times, Aleut dependents purchased much of the land on Mount Ballyhoo, which stands like a fist overlooking Dutch Harbor. At Amaknak Island, of which Mount Ballyhoo is the eastward extension into the harbor, visitors still find pillboxes and gun emplacements.
RV Parks & Campgrounds Near Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
The Aleutian World War II National Historic Area is on Unalaska Island, far out along the Aleutian Island chain. The nearest mainland is the Aleutian Peninsula, which is rugged and nearly impenetrable, with roads limited to local towns near the coast. That leaves the Kenai Peninsula as the best way to visit the area by traveling as far down the peninsula as possible, finding an RV park, and taking a plane out of Anchorage or the weekly Island Chain Ferry from Homer. Using an RV to travel the Kenai Peninsula allows you to view all the natural wonders along the way in a self-contained unit with modern amenities to make life easy while on the road. The best way to rent an RV in the area is through RVshare.
Things To Do Near Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
To enjoy this area's immensity, drop by the Ounalashka Corporation's headquarters and purchase a permit to explore it thoroughly. Hikes take visitors from pillboxes to bunkers to gun emplacements along various trails that climb Amaknak Island's heights. Walking from one site to another, visitors often notice dips in the land where tunnels beneath the soil have collapsed. At the tip of the island where the foundations of an 8-inch gun emplacement still exist, the view over Dutch Harbor and beyond is magnificent. Many visitors come to observe the bald eagles, ground squirrels, and the occasional fox that have reclaimed this area as their natural home.
Mount Ballyhoo Trail
Mount Ballyhoo Trail is a 3-mile in-and-out walk from the parking lot for the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area on Amaknak Island to the top of Mount Ballyhoo, where the ruins of Fort Schwatka remind visitors of the purpose of this site. The trail is lightly used by hikers, bikers, and bird-watchers who pursue the heights for its incredible views and wildlife. Though the trail is open year-round, it is most often used between April and October.
Ulakta Drive, Unalaska, AK 99692
Bunker Hill Trail
Bunker Hill Trail is a 2-mile in-and-out hike to a World War II concrete bunker set at the top of a hill. The site is accessed from two locations. The trailhead found on Airport Beach Road is the shorter of the trails but much steeper. The trailhead from Henry Swanson Drive is more gradual but a bit longer. The hike leads to the bunker, the foundations of a gun emplacement, and commanding views of Dutch Harbor.
Henry Swanson Drive, Unalaska, AK 99692
Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral
Built in 1898, the Holy Ascension of Our Lord Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox Church still operating today. The main building commands an impressive view of the sea and holds several 16th century artifacts brought from Russia and paid for by donations of furs from Aleuts. The distinctive “onion dome” design draws visitors from around the world.
West Broadway Avenue, Unalaska, AK 99692
Sitka Spruce Park
Sitka Spruce Park, known by locals as Pirate Park, sits just above sea level on Amaknak Island. It features a playground with a pirate ship and a picnic area with a view of the sea. The 4-acre park is a National Historic Landmark and is one of the few remaining places on the outward Aleutian Islands that still has the dwarf trees and shrubs indicative of the flora that once graced all of the island chain.
Biorka Drive, Unalaska, AK 99692
Museum of the Aleutians
Opened in 1999, the Museum of the Aleutians features local art collections, provides a home for history research scientists, and represents the Aleut community in its efforts to discover and publish the folklore of the indigenous people.
314 Salmon Way, Unalaska, AK 99865
Aleutian World War II National Historic Area Visitor Center
The Historic Area’s visitor center is in the Naval Aerology building at the Unalaska International Airport. The center interprets the area’s events during WWII, including the Japanese invasion in 1942 and the Aleut population's forced removal from the island chain.
2716 Airport Beach Road, Unalaska, AK 99865
Nearby Shops and Restaurants
Fishing is one of the main reasons visitors come to Unalaska. Before you venture into the wilds to fish or hire a fishing boat, drop by Kingfisher to get the freshest bait and the most effective angling gear found on the island.
40 Loop Road, Unalaska, AK 99685
Eagle Quality Center
For the freshest produce in Unalaska, stop by the Eagle Quality Center. This grocery store is full of canned and fresh foods.
2029 Airport Beach Road, Unalaska, AK 99685
The Chart Room
If you are looking for an old-fashioned buffet, stop by the Chart Room located inside the Grand Aleutian Hotel. Their seafood selection is excellent.
498 Salmon Way, Grand Aleutian Hotel, Dutch Harbor, AK 99692
For a mix of cuisines, visit Amelia’s. Their hamburgers, quesadillas, and chowder are among the best in the area.
30 East Point Road, Unalaska, AK 99685
How To Get To Aleutian World War II National Historic Area
To approach the area from the Dutch Harbor Airport, get onto Airport Beach Road. Drive for 0.1 miles and turn left onto Ballyhoo Road. Drive for 1.2 miles. At the intersection, continue straight ahead onto Ulakta Drive. Take the twisty Ulakta Drive for 1.3 miles and turn left into the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area parking lot. Aleutian World War II National Historic Area is a day-use area that is open from dawn to dusk each day.
240 W 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501
Fee: Entry fee (single person) $6
Fee: Entry fee (family) $10
Everyone who has the chance should visit the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area as an homage, if nothing else, to those who suffered during that conflict. Though the location is remote and requires a hike, there is nothing like a personal tour of a place with burgeoning wildlife and incredible views framed with wild winds and a frothy ocean. The visit is worth every second. Together with an RV trip through the Alaska wilderness, the journey by ferry or plane to this park will remain with you for a lifetime.