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Fjords of North America


Fjords, the long, narrow, very deep inlets from the sea bordered by steep cliffs, were created by glacial activity. They are found along the glacial regions of the northwest coast of the United States and on the British Columbia coast of Canada. Although the fjords of North America generally carry the name of a canal, they are natural bodies of water, not man-made ones.

Where are Fjords Located in North America?

While the Somes Sound in Maine, located on the south-central coast of Mt. Desert Island, is a fjord, sometimes spelled ‘fiard’, it is the only fjord in New England. Most of the fjords in the continental United States are located off the state of Washington’s Puget Sound. The sound is a fjord system formed from flooded glacial valleys. Many channels and canals originate in the sound. The Puget Sound system is comprised of four primary, deep basins that are connected by numerous waterways. One of the four main basins is the Hood Canal located on the western edge of the sound. The Hood Canal is one of the longer fjords in the world, running approximately 50 miles. It is not deep compared to other fjords. It has a mean depth of 177 feet. Hood Canal separates the Kitsap Peninsula from the Olympic Peninsula. The canal has several bays within it and numerous large and small rivers running into it.

Lynn Canal

Lynn Canal located within the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska is not only the deepest fjord in North America, it is one of the deepest in the world. It is more than 2,000 feet deep. It is also one of the longest fjords in the world, extending 60 miles north from Chatham Strait into the mainland of Alaska. The canal was explored in the last decade of the 18th century by British explorers Joseph Whidbey and Captain George Vancouver. It was named by Vancouver for his birthplace, King’s Lynn, England. The northern portion of Lynn Canal separates into three inlets, the Chilkat, the Chilkoot and the Taiya.

Fjords in Canada

Canada has dozens of named, significant fjords. These are found mostly in the provinces of British ColumbiaNewfoundlandLabrador and Quebec, and in the federal territory of Nunavut. One of the largest of the Canadian fjords is the Portland Canal, an extension of the Portland Inlet. Even longer than the Lynn Canal, the Portland Canal is more than 70 miles in length. It forms part of the border between Alaska and British Columbia. The canal was named by another British explorer, George Vancouver, in honor of the 3rd Duke of Portland. The fjord does not freeze in the winter and so is used for freight and ferry service between Canada and Alaska.

One of the largest, longest and most beautiful fjords in the world is found in Quebec within the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park. The Saguenay Fjord, carved during the ice age, is more than 60 miles long and approximately 900 feet in depth. The fjord’s glacial valley of steep rock faces has average heights of close to 500 feet. Waters from the Atlantic Ocean flow into it and mix with the fjord’s freshwater. Saguenay Fjord is a major tourist destination in both summer and winter. Thousands of visitors go there to appreciate its natural splendor or to explore its waters on sailboats, kayaks or other craft or via rock climbing or aerial ropes.

Other Canadian fjords are the Dean Channel and the Douglas Channel, both in British Columbia, the latter extending to the Fitz Hugh Sound, about 110 miles. It is considered one of the five or six longest fjords in the world. Three fjords in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Anaktalak, the Saglek and the Nachvak, are the subjects of global warming environmental studies.

Nunavut, the largest, newest and northernmost federal territory of Canada, is home to dozens of fjords, many of which are tourist attractions because of their beauty.

List of Other Fjords in The United States

College Fjord
Location: Alaska

Hood Canal
Location: Washington

Icy Bay
Location: Alaska

Misty Fjords
Location: Alaska

Nassau Fjord
Location: Alaska

Puget Sound
Location: Washington

Russell Fjord
Location: Alaska

Tracy Arm
Location: Alaska