The United States Congress designated the Russell Fjord Wilderness (map
) in 1980 and it now has a total of 348,701 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Alaska
and is managed by the Forest Service.
The Russell Fjord Wilderness is bordered by
the Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness
to the northwest.
From Disenchantment Bay, at the upper end of Yakutat Bay, heavily glaciated Russell Fjord penetrates about 35 miles inland, but the advance of Hubbard Glacier is slowly squeezing it off from the sea. Russell Fjord and narrow, 15-mile Nunatak Fiord are the most dramatic features of the ice-carved shoreline of this Wilderness. Within the area, which lies between the Fairweather and Brabazon Ranges, you'll find forested river valleys rising to alpine meadows and snowcapped peaks. From the peaks of the Puget Peninsula, Malaspina Glacier, the largest piedmont glacier in North America, dominates the lowlands on the other side of Yakutat Bay. Above the Malaspina rises Mt. Saint Elias. Rising to over 18,000 ft from sea level it presents some of the worlds most spectacular vertical relief. To the north Mount Logan, one of the highest peaks in North America, graces the horizon. To the south and west the broad, blue Pacific stretches to the horizon. At the northwest boundary of Russell Fjord, the Hubbard Glacier, one of the largest and most active tidewater glaciers in North America, is advancing to Gilbert Point. Twice in the last 40 years, the Hubbard has closed against the Puget Peninsula. Eventually, this unique event will become a long term situation converting Russell and Nunatak Fjords to immense freshwater lakes.
Wolves, mountain goats, and large numbers of smaller furbearing animals roam the Wilderness. You'll also encounter brown and black bears, including some of the rare black bears of "blue" coloring who live near glaciers. Harbor seals and sea lions swim up the major rivers and fjords. Birds are plentiful, especially seabirds, and all five species of salmon are known to spawn in the waters. The wealth of natural-food sources has made the area a harvesting ground for the Yakutat Tlingit for many, many years.
One trail, about seven miles long, departs from Forest Service Road 10 west of the town of Yakutat and leads to a U.S. Forest Service cabin on the shores of Situk Lake. From there, you can scramble to Mountain Lake about 1.5 miles away. Most of the interior is rugged and seldom visited. Wilderness camping is unrestricted. Powerboats, snowmobiles, and airplanes are allowed.