Your brilliant Alaska’s Inside Passage has arrived, and I’m at a loss for words. Congratulations-it really is superb, as much for its beautiful design and illustration, for the scope and depth of the subjects you cover and for the authority with which you write. I’m looking forward to combing through it and learning about so many aspects of SE I’ve missed before. 

— Mark Myers, distinguished maritime artist, RSMA, F-ASMA (Royal Society of Marine Artists and American Society of Marine Artists) 

see Mark's work at  http://www.kirstengallery.com/MMyers/myers.htm 

Alaska’s Inside Passage by Dale Pihlman is an encyclopedia of all things Alaska Panhandle, offering insights only an insider could muster up; Pihlman grew up in a commercial fishing family north of Ketchikan and has spent his whole life in the area. The 400-page book is broken down into sections that cover topics like rainforests, wildlife, marine environments, Native American groups, and historical industries of Alaska....

     Alaska’s Inside Passage does an excellent job of capturing the finer details and interesting facts that tend to get overlooked when planning the logistics of an extended trip. It would make a worthy addition to the collection of any boater thinking of venturing to Alaska, whether it’s the first or fifteenth time. 

Read full article: https://www.nwyachting.com/2019/06/alaskas-inside-passage/

Northwest Yachting Magazine, Nautical News, June Issue, 2019

Dale has written the best book I have ever seen about Southeast Alaska. The title is Alaska’s Inside Passage.  It should be in every boat, RV, and duffle bag heading north. Pihlman has written a comprehensive and enjoyable look at the nature, history, Native culture, and the industries of Southeast Alaska. His skillful writing brings it all to life in a most approachable fashion. Give it a look.
— Seaport Books Newsletter, LaConner, WA, Feb 6, 2019 


Thank you for sending the requested book, Alaska’s Inside Passage. I had a hard time setting it aside. Congratulations on your very enjoyable, beautifully illustrated, and informational masterpiece of literature. I wish to order three more for sons who have been interested in Alaska.

— Eugene Fairbanks, MD, Co-author of The Sound and the Sea. 


Alaska’s Inside Passage by Dale Pihlman presents a wealth of information on a variety of subjects, a fascinating journey through Southeast Alaska. Dale Pihlman’s knowledge and experience as a biologist, mariner, commercial fisherman, and pilot draws the reader into a colorful life in the bush. His in-depth, easy to read topics cover everything from community history and culture, to wildlife and the industries of Alaska, a must read for visitors and locals alike.

Waggoner Cruising Guide 

I just received your book. It is a table top beauty! The extent of your research is impressive, Dale. The quality and variety of the pictures are stunning. It is a Magnus Opus. Great Job!

— Cindy Barber, BS Wildland Recreation, Management and Forestry

Essential reading for anyone already in love with Alaska’s beauty and diversity, as well as those planning a trip to the 49th state. 

— Molly Hollenbach, PhD 


I have been looking forward to the release of this book. It is the best book that I have seen on our area, SE Alaska. Nice overview, with details that many locals may not be aware of, balanced with good pictures and good history. Have been spreading the word to others. Congratulations on an excellent job. 

— Clark Davis DC 

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and have aspirations of going to Alaska, then this is the book for you. Even if you do not plan a visit, this narrative of ALASKA’S INSIDE PASSAGE by Dale Pihlman is a wonderful guide and definitive work on the history, nature, industries and Native culture of the panhandle of Alaska. It also includes anecdotal stories of the hardy individuals who chose to make this frontier their home. It is a thoroughly researched compilation of enthralling information for anyone wanting to know more about this area of our 49th state...  Dale Pihlman should hit the lecture circuit. 

— Charles G. Summers Jr.,  BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 1985 


Few travelogues attempt and accomplish as much as Dale Pihlman’s Alaska’s Inside Passage. While providing the expected geographical and historical information about the southeast portion of the state, the narrative often reads like an absorbing novel.

   Pihlman probes his subjects, revealing salient facts about potlatches and totemic art. One section, distinguishing among totem poles produced by Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl-complete with illustrations, is particularly informative. 

   Regarding Missionaries, Pihlman meticulously differentiates among ministers of various Christian sects, noting that some were merely interested in acquiring converts, while others such as William Duncan, mastered the Tsimshian language, endeavoring to provide indigenous people with education and practical skills.

The section on Native American acculturation is particularly astute, enriched by person experience. He discusses Tillie Paul, a Tlingit Native from Wrangell, whose arrest for illegal voting, then subsequent acquittal laid the foundation for the Indian citizenship Act of 1924. Pihlman notes that his own father challenged discriminatory regulations by sitting in the section of a Ketchikan movie theater reserved for Natives. 

   This comprehensive and engaging study is enriched by detailed maps, as well as spectacular photographs of the area’s flora and fauna, including marine life. Like exemplary novels, Alaska’s Inside Passage rewards rereading.

― Suzann Bick, PhD English

New Author Pihlman writes about essence of the Southeast. 

A Ketchikan man (Dale Pihlman) has published not only a local’s perspective of Alaska’s Inside Passage, but a well-examined history of the land he has meticulously explored and called home for his entire life…

    Each chapter is filled with colorful photos and illustrations of wildlife, botany, geology and historical accounts. With subjects ranging from fishing to art, the new author created a guide with a wide appeal for people with a collection of diverse interests…

In addition to the beautiful landscapes the region offers, he is also fascinated with Native history, culture and art. Pihlman makes this very apparent by contributing a significant portion of the book to the vast complex history of the Alaska Native cultures. He researched the cultures within the settlements scattered along the coastline and delivered it into not only an interesting read, but a fascinating narration of events… 

    …Pihlman did face some challenges while compiling all the data and paraphrasing it. “The biggest challenge was to keep it light enough to keep it interesting, but have the technical information there that is important to the subject.” He said…

    The author’s life experience transcribes into a guidebook of the region….Pihlman’s book “Alaska’s Inside Passage” offer a traveler a light read while at sea or a quick reference while at port. This is an adventurer’s short guide that crosses over to in -depth research and entwines the rich history of the area with a scientific account of the visible beauty along the shorelines, including the forests…

    The importance of the subject matter is its significant history. This is a book about the Alaskan culture of not just the here and now but the then and there. A time of the past and its relevance to the present.  

Ketchikan Daily News Alaska Inside Passage review

— Dustin Safranek, Daily News Photographer, December 23, 2018

Part Memoir and Part Almanac, Ketchikan man’s book details flora, fauna, and history of Alaska’s Inside Passage

…In retirement, Pihlman said he had plenty of time to think about things he’d learned growing up off the grid north of Ketchikan, crewing on a family salmon troller, operating a fishing vessel, spending five seasons as an Alaskan Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist and operating sightseeing tours for 23 years. 

     Pihlman said he wanted the book to be comprehensive and specific to the Inside Passage. “I wrote it for visitors,” he said.... “Also, I think everyone in the panhandle will appreciate the depth of information of my material. It is a practical guide to marine and terrestrial animals, birds, fish, trees, seashore animals, etc. Alaska's Inside Passage has a lot of generally unknown history which I think will be particularly well received as well as a distillation of the complexities of relevant science on subjects such as ecology of the rainforest, plate tectonics, and the evolution of salmon.”

A learning experience

     Pihlman said he was able to put together most of the book via his files and firsthand experience, but he wrote close to his bookcase so he could grab books for reference and the internet aided the project too.

     That meant sometimes coming across surprising nuggets of information such as learning that Alaska Packers Association ships used sails for a half-century after the steam engine became popular.

     Pihlman was keen to research the movement of people, which he found surprising. “There were people here 5,000 years ago who just moved on," Pihlman said. 

     Writing Alaska’s Inside Passage also changed how Pihlman thinks of missionaries. “Like a lot of educated people, I guess I thought missionaries came and messed up the Native culture, but it turns out fur traders came first, and they brought alcohol and fire arms.” Pihlman came away with a more positive feeling about missionaries. “However,” he said, “that isn’t to say there weren’t some missionaries who demanded forced adoption of European customs. The Presbyterians were pretty demanding—cut down your totem poles, stop speaking your language, burn your regalia,” Pihlman said.

― Ben Hohenstatt

Capital City Weekly, FEATURES, Tuesday, October 30, 2018