Located at the tip of Wrangell Island across from the mouth of the Stikine River, Wrangell is a gem in the heart of Tongass National Forest.
Surrounded by islands, mountains, rivers and beauty that will astound any visitor, our friendly little town provides easy access to the Stikine, the last truly wild river in British Columbia and one of the great fishing spots in the world. Adventure is easy to find in Wrangell, from flightseeing over the snow-capped coastal range and glaciers to visiting Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory for an up-close bear experience. Downtown offers shops, galleries and restaurants with varied menus, but most feature local seafood.
The protected waters in Southeast Alaska near Wrangell are filled with islands, bays and harbors rich with wildlife just waiting to be explored. These waterways provide excellent sea kayaking opportunities, or can be explored by wildlife charter tours. Trails in town can provide short excursions, ranging from day hikes to overnight adventures, into the temperate rainforest which range from day hikes to overnight adventures. Walking tours are available if you’re interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna of the rainforest. A waterfront bike and walking trail begins at City Park, about one mile from the ferry terminal, extending about four-and-a-half miles south of town past Shoemaker Bay Recreation Area.
If golf is your game, Wrangell is home to the only regulation USGA approved golf course, Muskeg Meadows in the Inside Passage, and hosts tournaments nearly every weekend in summer months.
With more than 100 miles of forest roads on the island to explore, there are scenic overlooks, wildlife sightings, picnic areas, hiking trails and lakes. Public and private campgrounds are available to choose from, offering full services or remote wilderness experiences. The City Parks and Recreation Department manages two sites, City Park, which is close to downtown offering overnight tent camping or Shoemaker Bay Recreation area, about 4 miles from downtown with tent and RV spots including electricity, a dump station, water and restrooms. The U.S. Forest Service manages several remote camping areas on Wrangell Island in the Tongass National Forest. If your plans do not include RVing or camping, there are lodges, hotels and outstanding bed and breakfasts available to make your stay relaxed and comfortable.
Did you know that Wrangell is the only community in Alaska to have been ruled by four Nations, under three flags: Tlingit Indian Nation, Russia, Great Britain and the United States? Perhaps as far back as 8,000 years ago, native inhabitants at the time carved ancient symbols in rock at what is now Wrangell’s Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, easily explored at low tide. A quick walk through downtown and across a footbridge in the inner harbor will bring you to Chief Shakes Island and Tribal House. Surrounded by carved totems, this site offers a glimpse into the Tlingit way of life. Wrangell has experienced the boom and bust cycles of the gold rush, fur and trapping, commercial fishing and timber; and the Wrangell Museum, located in the Nolan Center, offers an interactive walk through the city’s colorful history.
The two most visited Glaciers in the Wrangell area include Chief Shakes Glacier and LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. Both glaciers, along with dozens of others, are part of the Stikine Icefelds located in the Stikine/LeConte Wilderness of the Tongass National Forest and the Stikine Wilderness of British Columbia, Canada.
Shakes Glacier, located on the Stikine River is in a narrow fjord known as Shakes Lake. The glacier is actively calving and a boat or flightseeing excursion offers an awe inspiring view of a 20-story-tall wall of ice.
The LeConte Glacier north of Shakes Glacier is one finger of the massive Stikine Icefields and is in constant motion, with huge chunks of ice breaking off into the channel. There’s a reason why the Natives called this “Thunder Bay”—the glacier is never quiet.
Wrangell’s easy way of island life surrounded by natural beauty inspires artists to create. Many original pieces of locally made and designed artwork, representing a variety of styles and media, can be viewed and purchased in local gift stores and galleries. Clothing stores provide casual to formal wear as well as items designed specific to Wrangell. Stores have a variety of educational materials and mementos for purchase to help you remember your special journey to the Inside Passage. If you are camping or arriving by boat, Wrangell’s two grocery stores are fully stocked with all the necessities and even provide dockside delivery of groceries. Hardware, auto and marine supply stores will meet any needs to make traveling comfortable. Visitors will find local restaurants and dining establishments that offer a range of cuisine from locally caught and processed wild Alaska seafood to take-out menus.
Whether you are looking for a guided day charter, extended trip, or just fishing on your own, Wrangell’s surrounding waters are premier fishing grounds. All five species of wild Alaska salmon are abundant from May to September, and the mighty halibut can be fished all summer long. Nearby lakes and streams provide excellent opportunities for both spin-casting and fly-fishing experiences. Whether you desire the challenge of the month-long Annual King Salmon Derby, or a relaxing day on a remote river, come and enjoy southeastern Alaska’s fishing at its best. Any seafood caught can be custom-processed to enjoy upon returning home.
Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory is one of Alaska’s prime bear-watching spots. Through July and August, black and brown bears come to Anan Creek, boasting the largest pink salmon run in Southeast Alaska and feast on the bounty to fatten up for the coming winter hibernation. A half-mile trail leads to the observation deck, which was developed by the U.S. Forest Service and overlooks cascading falls allowing visitors to watch the bears up close as they catch salmon. Guides from town transport tourists to and from the site and and assist with permitting requirements.
For the bird lover, the Stikine River delta is a haven to migrating birds in the spring and fall, including tundra (Whistling) swans, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, mergansers, waterfowl and more than 200,000 shorebirds. In late April, 8,000 to 10,000 snow geese stop on their migration north and during the same time period, the largest concentration of bald eagles in the world occurs.