Baranof, Warm Springs Bay

Baranof, Warm Springs Bay

by | Jun 21, 2021

Baranof is a community located at the head of Warm Springs Bay, at the outlet of Baranof Lake, on the Chatham Strait coast of Baranof Island, about 86 miles (139 km) south-southwest of Juneau and 20 miles (32 km) east of Sitka, Alaska. The Tlingit name for the island is Sheet’-ká X’áat’l. The name Baranof was given to the island in 1805 by Captain Yuri Fedorovych Lysianskyi of the Imperial Russian Navy, to honor Alexander Andreyevich Baranov who was the first governor of the Russian-American colony that was established in 1799 at Sitka, and that became the center of Russian fur-trading in North America during the period from 1804 to 1867. Following the Alaska Purchase, Baranof Island was subject to many small-scale mining prospects, canneries, whaling stations, and fox farms. Most of these ventures were abandoned by the beginning of World War II.

A series of warm springs are located along the Baranof River rapids that are about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and end at waterfalls that separate Warm Springs Bay from the large glacier-fed Baranof Lake. The warm springs were used frequently by the Tlingit of Angoon. Euro-Americans did not find the springs until 1891. There are nine separate hot springs with temperatures from lukewarm to 120 degrees F (48.9 degrees C). Only one is developed and is located against the white water of the Baranof River. The community built a public bathhouse at the waterfront to provide another option for visitors. Small tour boats visit frequently in the summer, as well as fishermen, and employees of the Hidden Falls Hatchery. The warm springs are also the trailhead for the Baranof Cross-Island Trail.

Baranof is primarily a seasonal community, having only caretakers in the winter and intermittent visitors in the summer. There are about 15 seasonal homes and the commercial Baranof Wilderness Lodge. Baranof is also home to the Coastal Research and Education Center, a research and educational facility operated seasonally by the Alaska Whale Foundation. Read more here and here. Explore more of Baranof and Warm Springs Bay here:

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