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Kodiak, Alaska

People call Alaska's largest island the Emerald Isle for its lush glacier-carved beauty. Russian whalers and fur traders established the first non-native settlement in Alaska on this island in 1784. It became Alaska's largest fishing port, with abundant catches of king crab and salmon. Kodiak Island also belongs to the Kodiak bear - the largest brown bears in the world. They have lived isolated here for 10,000 years, since the last Ice Age, and are found nowhere else.

Experienced guides can take you into the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, home to 3,500 bears - some exceed 1,500 pounds and stand 10 feet tall. On other parts of the island, discover hiking trails that wind through forests of Sitka spruce. Bicycle the 3.5 mile paved path from downtown to Fort Abercrombie State Park. Kayak in sheltered bays as sea otters swim by.

The Alutiiq Museum tells the story of 7,500 years of Kodiak's cultural history. The Baranov Museum holds tales of the Russian colonial period. Fuel up at Java Flats with a lunch of delicious sandwiches and fresh cookies. Watch the sun rise in Kodiak as you enjoy hot chocolate and the beautiful view at Harborside Coffee.

Photographer: Kristen Kemmerling