Natural Features & Ecosystems

The Alaska Coastal Temperate Rainforest is home to a complex web of ecological interactions that allows the organisms within it to thrive. Each participates in a web of life and death that keep the surrounding landscape healthy year after year.
A forest dominated by western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and blueberries.
Hemlock, spruce, and berries are common ecosystem components.


Certain species in an ecosystem drive interactions between ocean, river, and land. Just as an arch would collapse with out the keystone, ecological communities, too, would fail without these all-important animals.

Read more about the park ecosystems.

Cloud covered mountains in the far background, calm ocean mid-ground and rocky tidal flats with seaweed, mussels and barnacles in the foreground.
Geologic forces such as glaciers, volcanoes, and tides are still changing Sitka's landscape.

Geological Formations

Glaciation, deglaciation, volcanic activity, and tidal erosion all shaped Sitka's changing shoreline and landforms. Digging into the soil, geologists can tell how the landscape has changed over the millennia.

Read more about Sitka's geologic features.

Clam flats in the intertidal zone.
Rocky intertidal zone harbors clam beds and tidal pools.
Intertidal and Subtidal Zones

The intertidal zone and estuarine areas comprise nearly half (44%) of the park's total acreage. Water-bird feeding, salmon migration, and provision of essential clam bed habitat are just a few of the important functions of the park's intertidal zone.

Learn more about Sitka's intertidal zone.
Indian River on a sunny day, with spruce, hemlock and leaf-bare alder growing along both banks of the river.
Plants, insects, and animals rely upon a number of variables to live and thrive.

NPS photo by Andrea Willingham

Stream Ecology

A healthy ecosystem comprises an interconnected web of organisms. Adequate water flow and direct sunlight are only two of the elements necessary to maintain sufficient energy production for life.

Read more about the Indian River and stream ecology.

Last updated: February 21, 2019

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103 Monastery St.
Sitka , AK 99835


907 747-0110

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