Bethel is 400 miles west of Anchorage, and accessible only by air and river. It is the main port on the Kuskokwim River, and hub for the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. This area is the ancestral home of the Yup'ik, who called their village Mamterillermiut -that means "Smokehouse People" and refers to their central fish smokehouse. Moose, caribou, geese, ducks, and bears make their homes in this area. Experienced bush pilots can take you on chartered flights over the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Each January, hundreds participate in the Kuskokwim 300 dog sled race to the village of Aniak and back to Bethel. For three days every March, singers, drummers, and dancers from all over Alaska come to Bethel for the Yup'ik dance festival - the Camai, which means "warm hello." For three days in late August, the Bethel Fair comes to life - local bird experts give demonstrations with bald eagles and great gray owls. During the short, mild summer you can also kayak and bicycle.

The Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center hosts a bimonthly Saturday Market, showcasing artisan-crafted story knives and traditional Yup'ik gaspeq cloth parkas. Have pizza at Arctic Sun Restaurant. Dimitri's on 4th Ave. offers good Greek cuisine

Photo 1: Courtesy Gary Peltola/