John and Sylvia on Walker Glacier during a rafting expedition down the Alsek River.
We have been guiding in the Wrangell area since 1995 and it is our home. We aim to share our love of Alaska with you through the trips we have built around the beauty of Southeast Alaska and the things we like to do even on our days off. We are very privileged to operate in federally protected areas such as the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area and the Anan Bear & Wildlife Observatory.
Alaska Vistas has the experience, attention to detail, equipment, and guides to give you the best, safest, and most comfortable trip. Our staff is made up of experienced naturalists and marine biologists and our trips are designed to access places you simply can’t see any other way.
Sylvia, co-owner of Alaska Vistas and a graduate of marine biology at Texas A&M University class of ’81, came to Alaska to follow her passion in fisheries and landed in Dutch Harbor, spending the next three decades on fishing boats in the Bering Sea. In 1989 she convinced John to join in buying a salmon gill-net permit and the 38ft fishing vessel Fidelia, continuing her love of all things fishery related. In 1995, John and Sylvia added Alaska Vistas to the mix. Now, 39 years and many adventures later, Sylvia still charges ahead full speed. When she’s not driving a jet boat, she’s analyzing numbers for Bering Sea Fisheries, catching fish, catching waves in Kona, rowing a raft down the Stikine or plumbing a new construction project. Sylvia claims that laziness is the mother of invention and a thirst for knowledge should be unstoppable.
John, co-owner of Alaska Vistas, enjoys exploring and introducing visitors to the beautiful waterways of the Tongass National Forest, including the glaciers of the Stikine River and LeConte Bay as well as the bears of the Anan Wildlife Observatory. He feels especially privileged to share these unique places with people from all over the world. John grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University before becoming a commercial fisherman in Alaska. He has been an experienced client-facing guide and adventurer for over 30 years and while Alaska is his home, he also loves to travel. In his free time you can find John river rafting, downhill skiing, or working on house construction and re-model projects.
Ceona graduated from Western Washington University with degrees in Environmental Science and Spanish and has been with Alaska Vistas since 2012. Ceona grew up with the Washington Cascades as her backyard playground and spent the summers of her childhood sailing in B.C. and Southeast Alaska with her parents and sister. She thinks of Wrangell as her second home and is always excited to spend time in the rainforest and on the water. In her spare time you can find Ceona traveling to new countries, working on art and design projects, reading, or out and about in the outdoors.
Denny Strom, a graduate of Wildlife Management at the University of Minnesota, spent the majority of his career as a US Fish and Wildlife service employee in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Alaska. Denny has lived in Alaska for 36 years and loves meeting new people to show them the beauty of the area. Denny’s hobbies include sport fishing, fly fishing, hunting, birding and wood carving. If Denny is your guide you might find him in conversation with a raven or an eagle with his excellent bird calls!
Renee, an experienced guide and adventurer since 1978, holds a master’s in environmental systems from Humboldt State University. She has been a guide for most of her adult life, first as a white-water instructor and then as a USFS Interpreter at the Anan Bear Observatory. Currently, Renee is a college math professor in California in the winter and a guide for Alaska Vistas in the summer. All winter she looks forward to getting back to southeast Alaska so she can share rainforest and Inside Passage adventures with visitors that come to Alaska from all over the world. In her off time, you’ll find Renee canoeing, bird watching, dancing, and reading about cetaceans and cephalopods.
Robert is a photographer, biologist, and bear behavioral expert with over 12 years of experience guiding at the Anan Wildlife Observatory. He is retired from a 40-year career as an Alaska Fish and Game biologist and continues to share his passions through photography, particularly with original multimedia photo and video art documentaries. In his off-time, Robert enjoys anything to do with rivers, streams, and oceans. He is an avid angler, boat operator, and R/C fixed-wing and drone pilot. Robert believes that through education others about nature, more people will come to a greater appreciation and amazement of our incredible Southeast Alaska temperate rain forest.
Captain Terry is a legend in our small community. He prides himself on having been born in Alaska before statehood, while it was still a territory. He grew up on the Stikine River and in the forests and waterways of Southeast Alaska. He has been guiding friends and guests in this area since before most guides were born. Between working with the Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department and operating his own businesses, Aqua Sports Enterprises and a local outboard and small engine shop, we are honored when he offers his services to us. If there is a local Mc Gyver, it’s Terry. His experience in the wilderness with no means of communication makes him the go-to person for search and rescue operations in our area. Terry has stories that awe about life on the river that many can’t imagine.
Bruce was born and raised in Colorado where he found a scout troop that was mostly about hiking, skiing and backpacking. While in high school he trained for and participated in mountain searches and rescues with the local mountain rescue team. After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy, his first assignment was on a ship in Kodiak, and Alaska has been his home since then. Bruce moved to Wrangell after winning a land lottery parcel at the south end of Wrangell Island in 1983 where he and his wife built a log cabin on Zimovia Strait. He still enjoys hiking and cross-country skiing, but now mostly swims for exercise and has shifted his recreation focus to anything with an oar or paddle. Bruce first visited Anan in 1984 and has enjoyed sharing the Anan experience with visitors over the years, who help remind him how lucky he is to live, work and play here.
Butch, a retired high school teacher, has been living in Southeast Alaska for the past 42 years, hunting, trapping, and fishing. He and his wife have raised two children in Wrangell and now enjoy bringing their children back for visits in the summers. Butch enjoys sharing the beauty and wildlife of Southeast Alaska with family, friends and Alaska Vistas' clients. On "warm" summer days, you can find him on a jet ski shooting across the water in front of town.
Bruce is a long-time Alaskan resident, who has lived in Wrangell since 1980. He is a retired carpenter, a subsistence hunter and fisherman. He is an experienced trekker during the winter months while he travels around the world, while bringing donations to the Maiti Nepal orphanage located in Kathmandu, Nepal.
John is a lifelong Wrangellite with an Alaska Native (Tlingit) Heritage he enjoys sharing with our guests. He has fished commercially, served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and sailed as a mate on ocean tugboats. One of his joys is paddling on extended wilderness river canoe trips. John considers it a privilege to have had a career as a classroom teacher in Wrangell. He says many of his guiding skills come from that experience (especially all those years with kindergarteners). John believes life in a small community offers some comfort in seeing familiar faces on a daily basis and that Alaska Vistas brings the world to us in the form of new faces and new friends. Gunalcheesh (thank you).
Liana was born in Billings, Montana and has lived in Alaska for eight years with her family of seven. She is a junior at Wrangell High School and has exceled in both sports and academics. She is in the National Honors Society as well as student government and won several sports titles in 2019, including 1st in state wrestling (leading to a national ranking), 5th in state cross country, and 1st in basketball regionals. Besides wrestling, Liana loves spending time with her family, hunting, fishing, camping, and traveling. She is a hard worker in every aspect of life.
Jack grew up in the interior of Alaska and has lived all over the state, ending up in Southeast Alaska to teach middle school and high school after attending college in Idaho and Montana. Jack has fun guiding for Alaska Vistas because he can get outside, meet interesting people from all over, and share what he knows about the history of the region and his home state. Jack enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, coaching wrestling, traveling, and learning about history.
Christie has lived in Wrangell for over 60 years, born and raised on the island. She is part Tlingit Native and is the direct descendent of Chief Shakes VII, Charles Jones. She had a long career in local and state government from 1980-2015. Since retiring in 2012, Christie loves to read, exercises by walking, trekking along with her husband Bruce, yoga and cooking. Christie is the owner of The Squawking Raven Bed & Breakfast, which opened in 2015.
Copyright © 2020 Alaska Vistas - All Rights Reserved.
Alaska Vistas is an equal opportunity provider
permitted to operate in the Tongass National Forest.
Photos courtesy of Robert E. Johnson with contributions from Arlene Woodward and Vincent Balansag
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