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Wrangell - Alaska

History, Hikes, and a Waterfall

Alaska Hotels

At the northern end of Wrangell Island, this town of 2,400 people is a scenic microcosm of the Alaskan Panhandle. The town has a mixture of fishing and logging to support its economy and a strong Native heritage.

For many centuries the Tlingit lived along the Stikine River, catching salmon for eating and for trading with other tribes. Russians began trading on the Stikine in 1811. Wrangell was rebuilt twice, after fires which devastated the town in 1906 and 1952. Today it's a perfect place for a two-day visit or for a week if fishing is your thing.

The town's historical museum is open in the afternoons, offering a very good collection of local relics including petroglyphs, Tlingit artifacts, and old photographs.

For a living, out-of-doors display of petroglyphs (which, after all, are just early graffiti) walk along Evergreen Avenue to Petroglyph Beach, where (at low tide, among other revealed rocks) you'll find several dozen large stones, with designs chiseled out by unknown artists from an earlier age. Rock rubbings here are discouraged, but you may obtain duplicates (made with a rubber stamp) at the museum or on the cruise dock.

There's good hiking on the Rainbow Falls Trail, across the road from Shoemaker Bay Campground.

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Practical Information

The local travel Infocenter is the Chamber of Commerce, at Outer Drive and Brueger Street, (907) 874-3901. This A-frame building is set near a large totem pole and City Hall, in the docks area. The Wrangell Convention and Visitors Bureau, located in the City Museum at 122 2nd Street, is open during summer months when ferries and cruise ships are in port, and also between 1 and 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The U.S. Forest Service office is on Bennett Street, past 2nd Ave. toward the airport, 907)-225-3101. The staff has helpful information on Stikine River journeys, and more than 20 recreation cabins available for overnight stays. The cabins can be booked here, although advance application is recommended.

The airport is located off Bennett Street, one mile from downtown. Wrangell Mountain Air can be reached at 800-478-1160.

The terminal for Alaska Marine Highway ferries is located in the downtown area, at the end of 2nd Street, also known as Zimovia Highway. For information on ferry schedules, call The local ferry reservations service at 800-382-9229.

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