Visiting Walker Cove, Rudyerd Bay, and Punchbowl Cove, located on the eastern side of Behm Canal, is like stepping into a grand cathedral of nature’s making. Intricate waterways lead through steep-sided granite walls with cirques, bowls, and spires. Waterfalls roll down vertical faces from snow fields high above, and rich estuaries deposited by rivers provide grasslands for bears and other wildlife. Passing through this incredible place is like a religious experience; one feels small and insignificant, yet a sense of belonging feeds the soul, as if part of the grandeur of nature’s creation. Photos cannot capture the scale and grandeur of the fjords.
The Misty Fjords area is part of an immense National Monument administered by the U.S. Forest Service, and is the largest wilderness in Alaska’s national forest. This National Monument includes both sides of the eastern arm of Behm Canal, from Revillagigedo Channel to Behm Narrows. While mist hangs around the mountain tops and through the valleys, it usually clears later in the day – always misty, always impressive.
Steep mountain faces and deep water means limited opportunities for anchorage. There is one mooring buoy in Punchbowl Cove and one mooring buoy in Walker Cove, along with a couple spots to anchor, best done with a stern-tie. We have named the anchorage bight in Walker Cove, Champaign Bight, for the unusual phenomenon seen at high tide levels, when a field of tiny bubbles rise from fissures in the shallow seabed. Look for the field of air bubbles a few yards from the creek entrance. You are likely to see bears foraging in the grasslands in the early evenings at both Walker Cove and Punchbowl Cove. While exploring inside the fjord area, keep in mind that VHF reception is very limited, including continuous broadcast weather.
Some thoughtful planning is required when making the 100-mile circuit around Behm Canal from Ketchikan. Most boats go counterclockwise when cruising the Behm Canal loop. Shoalwater Pass is a logical stop and offers anchorage for a number of boats, is well protected, and has good holding. A buoy close to shore is usable for smaller boats. Beautiful Manzanita Bay, with a large delta area, has appropriate anchoring depths in a couple of spots. Continuing around the loop, anchorage for several boats can be found in lovely Fitzgibbon Cove, offering nooks and beaches to explore by dinghy. Farther west is a mooring buoy just inside Anchor Pass. Next is Yes Bay, with several cozy anchorage locations in a pretty setting on the northwest side of Behm Canal.
Visiting Misty Fjords National Monument is very doable with a little advance planning. Behm Canal itself may seem rather average with no hint of what lies inside the fjords. Once you enter nature’s hidden cathedral off the main Behm Canal loop, be prepared to be inspired and awe struck.