May 25, 2015

Through Wrangell Narrows to Petersburg

First of all, Happy Memorial Day everyone.  It seems that most businesses in Southeast Alaska honor the real meaning of the holiday and close for the day.  That’s nice to see, and we don’t mind not being able to visit some of these places today.  Also, Happy Birthday to me!  What a wonderful place to spend my big day.

When we boarded the ferry in Wrangell on Saturday evening for our three-hour trip to Petersburg, we knew this might be the most exciting ferry ride in the Inside Passage.  Not long after pulling out of the harbor, we began to enter Wrangell Narrows, a 22-mile long channel that is one of the most difficult navigational stretches in Southeast Alaska. 

Getting Ready to Enter Wrangell Narrows

The Narrows, as it is known by locals, is off-limits to large cruise ships because of depth and width restrictions, and the Alaska Marine Highway ferries are the largest vessels that are able to navigate the stretch.  Although approximately 60 markers and buoys mark both sides of the channel, it is still a challenge to make it through.  Ferries must travel during high tide, as the region’s big tides can cause the water level to rise or fall by as much as 23 feet.  A crew member must stand watch at the bow of the ferry for the entire passage.  

There's Not a Lot of Room to Maneuver

We Have to Fit Between those Markers

Almost every passenger on board must have been aware of the special nature of this route since the observation deck was full, and many people were standing outside to watch our passage through the Narrows.  Joining us on board was an off-duty first officer, who explained what we were seeing.  When we asked him why he was traveling as a passenger when he’s sailed this route hundreds of times, he credited his mother.  She had always wanted to travel the Wrangell Narrows, so he was accompanying her.  Nice son.

It seemed as though we could reach out and touch some of the markers, but it was smooth sailing all the way.  We were so fortunate that it was still light for most of the passage.  I feel bad for those passengers who have to travel through this special place in the middle of the night.

A Beautiful Evening for the Ride

Nice Cloud

Even Small Boats Don't Like to Travel the Narrows at Night or in the Fog

That Was Close

The owner of Frog’s RV Park waited up for us to arrive after the ferry docked in Petersburg at 10:15 pm, and we checked in.  The campground appeared to be an odd one, but it was dark and we were tired, so we pulled into our site and went to bed.  In the morning we looked around, and indeed it is an odd park.  If we had any site other than the one we are in (site 27, which is parallel to Wrangell Narrows and has a nice view), I would not be a happy camper.

The owner is very nice and accommodating, but the park is very small and is filled with construction workers and some of the strangest trailers I’ve ever seen.  One looks like a box car on stilts.  Just north of the park, but within full view, is a row of old trailers and shipping containers stacked two high, each with one living unit.  A barge dock facility is also within view of our site, and the activity there can be a bit noisy.

We just hung out here on Sunday and relaxed, and I have to admit that the RV park is growing on me a bit.  The Wi-Fi is good, and the owner gave us homemade krumkake, a Norwegian waffle cookie.  She asked us how many nights we’d like to pay for (our reservation was for four nights, but she apparently thought we might not want to stay the entire time).  I’m also finding it very interesting to watch the goings-on at the barge dock.  In the afternoon, the town’s weekly grocery delivery arrived by barge.  In the evening, the M/V Columbia, the largest Alaska Marine Highway ferry, passed by in front of our site.

Norwegian Krumkake

Groceries for the Week Arriving by Barge

The M/V Columbia Passing By

We Can't Complain About Our Site

Unless you can snag site 27 or absolutely need full hookups, you probably would not be happy at Frog’s.  We’re fine here because the view of the Narrows is beautiful and Kitty has a nice grassy area where she can hang out.  I can turn my back on the rest of the park and either sit outside, or look through our windows, and be captivated by the view.


  1. Sounds like a great trip out of the Narrows! Boy, you did snag a great site! Right on the water!

    1. The view from this site is one of the best we've ever had. It really is difficult to walk away from it and explore the rest of the island.

  2. Nice that you got the right site for your stay. Nice treats from the campground owner.

    1. Despite initial impressions, we have really enjoyed this campground. Watching the eagles, ferries, fishing boats, barges and seaplanes on the Narrows has provided great entertainment.

  3. Happy Birthday! I'm going to have to add Wrangell Narrows to my list of places to go - sounds like a beautiful voyage. I completely understand about the campground - good ones improve with time. Hopefully your stay will get better. A beautiful location to camp though...

    1. Thanks. Yes, Wrangell Narrows would be great place for you to sail through. Isn't it funny about campgrounds? First glances can be deceiving. We ended up really enjoying the campground and hung around more than usual just to soak in the view.


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