Best Travel Tips to St. Lawrence, Alaska (For Your First Trip)

floating ice saint lawrence alaska

With an area of more than 4,640 square kilometers, St. Lawrence is a relatively large island. It is located amidst the icy waters of the Bering Sea in the North Pacific. The island of volcanic origin is between Siberia (Russia) and Alaska (USA), south of the Bering Strait, a bit closer to the coast of Asia. In the past, it was part from the existing land connection between Asia and North America. The island has a varied topography.

floating ice saint lawrence alaskaFlat coastal areas dotted with numerous small icy-cold lakes alternate with not very high mountains with permanently covered by clouds peaks.

Some parts of the coastline are steep and vertical and others are low lying and flat. The highest point of the island rises about 631 meters above sea level in the Atuk Mountain.

Due to its year round cold weather, the landscape on the island of St. Lawrence is extremely harsh.

During most of the year, or approximately from October to May, the island is covered with thick snow, and from November to late April the sea surface is covered by ice.

Soon after the snow melts, the few species of plants are in a hurry to grow up before the next winter, which usually comes very fast.

As the ground remains permanently frozen in depth, only some low herbaceous species with shallow root system thrive here.

The most typical plant on this northern island is the arctic willow, which most often reaches a height of no more than 20-25 centimeters. The fauna on the island is definitely more diverse than the flora.

As in winter the Bering Sea is completely frozen, the thick ice cover allows different species of animals such as polar bears to reach the island. During the summer months this place attracts a huge variety of nesting waterfowl, which in turn attracts hungry polar foxes.

The rich in fish and other sea creatures cold arctic waters off the island of St. Lawrence are a haven for large mammals such as gray whales, walrus and seals.

Although in an east-west direction the island is about 162 km long, St. Lawrence is quite sparsely populated. The total population in the year 2000 is about 1292 people, who live in two settlements.

About 681 of them are residents of Gambell, the island’s capital, and most of the other people live in the village of Savoonga.

Typical feature of St. Lawrence is the low standard of living, which is drastically different in comparison with the rich mainland North America.

The specific geographic location of St. Lawrence makes the island a victim of bad weather conditions practically throughout the year. During the winter months the weather in the area is extremely harsh.

There is a lack of daylight, and the temperatures are chilling, most often between (-18) and (-12) °C, but sometimes are possible much lower temperatures.

The total number of days with rainfall are more than 300 per year, and most precipitation falls in the form of snow. Summers are very short and quite cool.

The average daytime temperature even in July barely exceeds 10°C. Although the cold weather, at the height of summer the island enjoys daylight almost 24 hours a day.

When to go to St. Lawrence? The best time to visit this place is in June and July, at the height of summer. The rest of the year is too cold.

What not to miss? Most tourists come here to enjoy the millions of nesting birds on the island.

How to get to St. Lawrence? The best way to reach to St. Lawrence is by plane from Alaska. Another option to take advantage of are the cruise ships whose route passes through the area.

Danger. The biggest dangers while on the island of St. Lawrence are the roaming polar bears and the cold weather.

And while polar bears live mainly is some uninhabited and remote areas, the cold is everywhere and can cause problems for people who are not adapted to such low temperatures.