History, Hikes, and a Waterfall
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
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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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
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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