Stephen’s Passage is an important short cut for ships travelling south from Juneau, Alaska. It is bordered by Admiralty Island to the west and the mainland to the east and runs about 105 miles. It was named in 1794 by Captain George Vancouver, an English officer of the Royal Navy known for his 1791–95 expedition, of North America's north-western Pacific Coast, in honour of Sir Philip Stephens, Lord Commissioner of the British Admiralty. It’s not only ships that use the passage – many whales migrate through these calm waters.
Endicott Arm is a long fjord branching off Stephen’s Passage, the major inner passage heading southeast from Juneau. The easternmost tip of Endicott Arm nearly reaches the Canadian border. Like all the fords in this region, it was carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age which ended about 11,000 years ago. One either side of the fjord the steep, nearly vertical walls, rise to a height of about 370 meters or 1,200 feet. Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees manage to cling onto the rock faces, adding to the breath-taking beauty of the landscape.
Juneau, Alaska's capital and third-largest city, is on the North American mainland but can't be reached by road. The city owes its origins to two colorful sourdoughs (Alaskan pioneers)—Joe Juneau and Richard Harris—and to a Tlingit chief named Kowee, who led the two men to rich reserves of gold at Snow Slide Gulch, the drainage of Gold Creek around which the town was eventually built. That was in 1880, and shortly thereafter a modest stampede resulted in the formation of a mining camp, which quickly grew to become the Alaska district government capital in 1906.