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“worth the drive”

The Solomon Gulch Hatchery
Ranked #9 of 27 things to do in Valdez
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: VFDA built the Solomon Gulch Hatchery (SGH) in 1981, and released its first pink salmon fry in 1982. It has operated consistently since then. The water for the hatchery is provided by the Solomon Gulch Hydroelectric Plant, owned by the Copper Valley Electric Association through a cooperative agreement. VFDA employs a hatchery crew of twelve full and part-time employees, and is directed by Hatchery Manager Rob Unger. Other staff includes an assistant manager, fish culturists, maintenance support staff, and night watchmen. The hatchery staff lives in the Valdez community. SGH has a permitted green egg capacity to incubate 230 million pink salmon and 2 million coho salmon each year. These egg capacities are strictly controlled by the State of Alaska. With this capacity, VFDA achieves annual releases of approximately 218 million pink salmon fry, and 1.75 million coho salmon smolt. Egg take or spawning happens in late summer. Hatchery staff may spawn as many as 16,000 adult brood stock each day. These fish return to the hatchery spawning building by entering the facility using a fish ladder, which carry the fish from salt water to raceways on shore. Over the winter, the hatchery staff tends to the eggs as they hatch into alevin and settle into simulated gravel to subsist from their yolk sacs. In early spring, the fry emerge and are ready to go to sea. VFDA pumps the fry to net pens off shore where they are fed using commercial salmon feeds until they reach a target weight of at least 0.5 grams. From there, the smolts are released to complete their life cycle in the open sea. This process is known as ocean ranching. The adults, which average about 3.5 pounds each, return the following summer, and the process starts all over again. Average adult returns to the hatchery are approximately 13 million adult pink, and 160,000 coho salmon. After harvesting a small percentage of the return for cost recovery and brood stock, the remainder is harvested primarily by the commercial purse seine fishermen. While the hatchery walking tour is open all summer, the absolute best time to visit is during one of the salmon runs. Pink salmon return to the hatchery in July and coho (silver) salmon return in August. This also allows for the best opportunity to view Alaska wildlife as all manner of animals come to the hatchery to feed on returning salmon. You can see seals, sea lions, black and brown bears, eagles and other birds and much more. There is a large paved parking lot located just west of the hatchery site with plenty of parking for guests as there is no parking allowed on the site. The walking tour is wheelchair accessible and paved. While there is no fishing allowed directly in front of the hatchery, many anglers catch their limit of wild Alaska salmon on the east and west sides. It is a must-see attraction in Valdez.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access
Reviewed September 16, 2013

If the salmon are running, this is facinating. However, the smell of dead salmon can get to you. Many fisherman line the road. You should try to go at high tide

Thank RexallWillie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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135 - 139 of 193 reviews

Reviewed September 7, 2013

We went out twice today to see bear at the Solomon Gulch Hatchery. We were disappointed that we did not see bear either in the early morning or late afternoon, but we saw sea otter, sea lions, stellar sea lion, and lots of birds. The salmon were huge and thick and made quite a meal for the animals. Great viewing next to a pretty waterfall. We will try again to see the bear!

1  Thank teachem4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2013

Tons of salmon spawning (kinda sad). Went there thinking we would see some bears feeding off the salmon. After 5 trips, we finally saw one bear...made it worth the drive.

Thank Pakrugg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 17, 2013 via mobile

Tons of salmon. Fun watching them try to jump up the fish weir. There's a pretty waterfall across the street. Didn't see any bears but maybe next time. Definitely worth checking out.

Thank bretzelpdx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2013

Witnessing this was pretty darn cool. We were there for the run of pinks, which I believe is by far their biggest run. The salmon were so thick you could have walked accross them. My son actually was able to just reach down and pick one up with his hands. Another plus is the fishing just before the inlet to the stream. Again thick with salmon so it was easy to limit out. Plus there are bears that regularly frequent the area to feast on the fish. We saw a grizzly the first night about a mile or so down Dayville Road from the hatchery. All in all, definitely worth a visit!

Thank terrapinproud
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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