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The Solomon Gulch Hatchery

#5 of 23 things to do in Valdez Features Animals
1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, AK 99686
+1 907-835-1329
Review Highlights
Best place to see bears, sea lions and Eagles

Go to the hatchery a few hours before high tide when the salmon are in. The water is full of fish... read more

Reviewed yesterday
Mark S
Fish galore

In late July there is a run of pink salmon coming to the hatchery with 100s of thousands of salmon... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Steven f
via mobile
Read all 171 reviews
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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.
  • Excellent64%
  • Very good25%
  • Average9%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“salmon” (87 reviews)
“eggs” (8 reviews)
“low tide” (10 reviews)
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, AK 99686
+1 907-835-1329
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Reviews (171)
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1 - 10 of 151 reviews

Reviewed yesterday

Go to the hatchery a few hours before high tide when the salmon are in. The water is full of fish then in come the sea lions, bears and eagles to feed. You can fish 300 feet from the hatchery weir - read the regulations!...More

Thank Mark S
Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

In late July there is a run of pink salmon coming to the hatchery with 100s of thousands of salmon! While they are stuck at the weir they attract a bunch (we counted 18 one night) of Stellar's sealions and harbor seals. And if your...More

Thank Steven f
Reviewed 3 days ago via mobile

Hundreds of salmon leaping in the water. Sea lions laying down randomly swallowing salmon. Bellies are full, waterfall backdrop. A wonderful nature experience

Thank SueVirginiaBeach_Va
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We took a drive to Solomon Gulch heading towards the end of the Alaska Pipe Line in Valdez Alaska. There is a parking lot right next to the bridge in Solomon Gulch this is where you want to park and walk back to where the...More

Thank dbtravels2
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Lots of nature to view with easy access. The Pinks are there, and the local sea lions are getting their bellies full at high tide. Some Brown Bears can be seen occasionally, so beware of them. Adult and immature Bald Eagles will NOT be hard...More

Thank OHtravels
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

We saw sea lions EVERYWHERE! It was amazing! That alone was worth the visit. I saw salmon too, but they were being eaten by said Sea Lions. I would definitely recommend going here just for the chance of seeing sea life.

Thank Heather T
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

In the evening several members of our family went to look at hatchery. Found it closed but was able to see numerous bald eagles up close along the road to the hatchery. Was able to read the signs about the purpose of the hatchery and...More

Thank jeffriesj17
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We have been to Solomon Gulch several times in different months of the summer. When the salmon are in later in the summer it is a feeding frenzy of sea lions, gulls, eagles and even bears. This time is was quiet........until 2 sea lions began...More

Thank laborman1
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

We were not sure what to find driving here, but what a surprise. The Gulch is gorgeous. We did not see salmon, but we were fortunate to see a seal. We did not have time to hike up to see it from the top, but...More

Thank efustok
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We visited Valdez last weekend and stopped by the hatchery. Being that we were there in June, we were WAY too early to catch the pink salmon run and harvest. I've seen pictures of the run, and it's spectacular. You want to be there in...More

1  Thank Mstraha
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Questions & Answers
9 August 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Joshua B | Property representative |
A visitor can spot salmon returning to the hatchery from mid July until September. With so many salmon returning to one spot, VFDA-Solmon Gulch Hatchery hosts a multitude of wildlife to our facility all capitalizing on the... More
9 August 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from RobEnJolanda | Reviewed this property |
Well, we saw them end of July, so my guess is all the fish will be dead and gone by then. The bears may be in the area, but probably not at the hatchery. Maybe you can e-mail the hatchery directly.
14 July 2016|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Joshua B | Property representative |
The hatchery is open all year round and the public access walking tour should be available for you to visit in September and October. The only things that shut down the walking path are bears on our property and snow (as we... More