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The Solomon Gulch Hatchery

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Address: 1455 Dayville Road, Valdez, AK 99686
Phone Number:
+1 907-835-1329
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

VFDA built the Solomon Gulch Hatchery (SGH) in 1981, and released its first...

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.

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Community at work

This hatchery is working because a group of fishermen wanted to help Valdez. Seals and sea l ions are available for viewing from the end of June to the end of September. Brown... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Valdez, Alaska
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159 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 139: English reviews
Valdez, Alaska
Level Contributor
22 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

This hatchery is working because a group of fishermen wanted to help Valdez. Seals and sea l ions are available for viewing from the end of June to the end of September. Brown and black bear show up in the evening. Tours should be available this summer.

Thank alaskanwaterdog
Level Contributor
28 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 February 2017

We go by there every year. To check out the salmon run. See all the campers park on the side. Enjoying see them fishing and canning out side of their campers. If your in Valdez you need to take that drive.

Thank Darlene B
North Mackay, Australia
Level Contributor
109 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 October 2016

Spent a couple of hours here late one afternoon in mid July, just before the hatchery opened.The was seething with returning salmon. Nice opportunity to chat to the locals who were fishing From the shore a little distance away the hatchery intake It was pure, free entertainment to watch the sea lions which were just gorging, the cheeky gulls and... More 

Thank 1never2late
Level Contributor
27 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 September 2016

If your staying in Valdez during the Salmon run this place is worth visiting more than once. Sea Lions feed at high tide, Bears feed at low tide, and there are always birds and eagles around. We visited on July 13th and the fish were in full force.

Thank EricEthridge
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
53 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 September 2016

We saw a bear on the way to this site. The setting was a good place to take photos! The exterior structures provided a fascinating way to learn more about operating a hatchery.

Thank adcrumpton
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
325 reviews
165 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 182 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 September 2016 via mobile

What a great find in Valdez. Free and you can easily spend a few hours here. Abundant wildlife showcasing Alaska's best in nature. Grab a seat a maybe see a bear or sea lion coming down to the water to feed on the salmon. Walk around the hatchery and learn about the lifestyle of salmon.

1 Thank Madjude
Level Contributor
656 reviews
278 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 243 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 September 2016 via mobile

We went when the salmon were swimming up stream. Unfortunately there were no bears when we were there but it was really neat to see.

Thank Palmgirl33
Battle Ground, Washington
Level Contributor
82 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2016

Bears frequent the weir to catch salmon and can be encountered anywhere near. I didn't understand why a weir would be used to block fish from going upriver, but now I know. There's so many thousands because of the release process, they have to be stopped. And they have to capture them to get the eggs and milt.

Thank Gloria B
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2016

It is close to the center of town, it is one half of a mile to it. It is good to see how Alaska is keeping the fisher men working with wild Salmon and not farm raised ones.

Thank Nick G
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
129 reviews
71 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 September 2016

It was pouring down rain and my husband and I were leaving town when we decided to stop at the hatchery. I have never seen so many salmon. They were swimming all over the place and were on top of each other. There must have been the same amount of sea birds there as well enjoying the fish dinners. We... More 

Thank Jo Ellen W

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