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|Popular For||Wildlife Viewing, Self-guided walking tour, Fishing nearby – but not at the hatchery|
|Location||1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, Alaska 99686|
|Cautions||Bears frequent area, tides|
Along Dayville Road, less than a 15-minute drive (10-miles) from Valdez is the Solomon Gulch Hatchery. Operated by the Valdez Fisheries Development Association (VFDA) since 1981, the hatchery releases approximately 250 million pink salmon fry and 2 million coho salmon smolt annually. This program dramatically enhances both sport and commercial fishing in the area and may produce up to $80 million of revenue. The salmon return to the hatchery the following summer and enter the spawning building via a fish ladder that you can watch from above. Check out more details on the hatchery at the Valdez Fisheries website.
Approximately 15.8 million pinks and 83,000 coho salmon return each year. The returning salmon draw multiple predators to the area. Sea lions, seals, eagles, and bears frequent the facility grounds. This makes it one of the best places in the state for wildlife viewing. The waterfall at the bridge is also a stunning sight. There’s a lot of Alaska in this one little spot.
The Solomon Gulch Hatchery is free to visit and has a self-guided tour beginning near the walkway at the salmon ladders. The walking tour offers a ton of information and excellent videos detailing both the history and the operation of the facility.
Time of Year to Visit
The grounds are accessible and the self-guided walking tour is open May – October. Wildlife will be most abundant when the salmon return, beginning in mid-June and peaking in early July. The pinks are mostly gone by the end of July, but the coho may run through late August.
Exercise caution as you may never know when a bear might stroll out of the woods or around the corner! Signs warn you not to go past the rocks near the parking lot, although there’s nothing to stop you from doing it, and many people do. Beware the fast tides along the shore. It is possible to walk out and then find yourself entirely trapped by water within minutes! Don’t disturb the salmon or other wildlife, and there is no fishing permitted at the hatchery.