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The Solomon Gulch Hatchery

Features Animals
1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, AK 99686
+1 907-835-1329
Review Highlights
Fish frenzy and free see otter feeding 'show'

Good signage explaining the components and science of the hatchery. I was lucky enough to film... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Dianna M
Interesting spot

My dad came up for a visit, this was one spot I took him too after a day of fishing silvers. They... read more

Reviewed 11 October 2017
Valdez, Alaska
via mobile
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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 good26%
  • Average8%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“salmon” (110 reviews)
“low tide” (13 reviews)
“eggs” (9 reviews)
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, AK 99686
+1 907-835-1329
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Reviews (194)
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1 - 10 of 173 reviews

Reviewed 1 week ago

Good signage explaining the components and science of the hatchery. I was lucky enough to film the moment when a sea otter caught a stray salmon entering the opening from the bay. No charge for this self guided tour. Parking lot has lots of "Beware...More

Thank Dianna M
Reviewed 11 October 2017 via mobile

My dad came up for a visit, this was one spot I took him too after a day of fishing silvers. They have s self guided tour, although it's not advertised well it is interesting, especially when fish are present.

Thank Cemoulton
Reviewed 23 September 2017 via mobile

This is a must visit for anyone and everyone. It is just an astounding view to see the salmon run and the dead fish on the river bed. This is life.

Thank Frank D
Reviewed 23 September 2017 via mobile

We found this place when Bayside RV Park suggested a drive out Dayville Road on an overcast day. It turned out to be a great opportunity to see wildlife very close up. In addition to seeing the salmon spawning at the hatchery, we saw dozens...More

Reviewed 15 September 2017 via mobile

Every time I go to Valdez I go over to the hatchery. In the fall I'm not only looking for the salmon coming up the creek but also for bears and sea lions. The hatchery produces a huge run of salmon that feed into Valdez...More

Thank Jim T
Reviewed 10 September 2017

We visited 3 times hoping to see a bear but sadly didn't. The hatchery is very different at low tide than high. There are thousands of seagulls feeding on Salmon during low tide which are not there during high tide. The Sea lions are really...More

Thank HonestCountryCouple
Reviewed 6 September 2017

Salmon make their way back into the hatchery by the thousands, and amazing thing to see. There is a walking tour along the Salmon Route with explanations and we also saw a an employee of the Hatchery and he answered every question that we had...More

Thank erandz
Reviewed 4 September 2017

Really interesting to see and learn how these salmon are incubated and then return. Technically, folks consider these salmon wild because they were at sea for a couple years before returning, but they were incubated at the fishery for the first year or so, so...More

Thank TSSF415
Reviewed 30 August 2017

The time of year we arrived is near the end of the salmon spawning cycle and we saw an amazing spectacle. At this hatchery, which is downstream of a man-made dam, they have placed a blocking mechanism in the water to limit the amount of...More

Thank Fiskenator
Reviewed 30 August 2017 via mobile

The salmon were literally clamouring to get up stream into the hatchery to lay their eggs and at high tide you can see the sea lions feasting on them dramatically surrounded by swooping seagulls and a pair of bald eagles which flew overhead. After they...More

Thank VanessaandPete
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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