Tim and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Wrangell and would definitely recommend it as a worthwhile stop on the Inside Passage. It’s a small town and is not widely known, and therefore feels more “authentic.” Few cruise ships stop in Wrangell, and those that do are smaller in size. Wrangell is a real working town, and it is not polished like some Alaska towns. To me, it seems a bit earthy, or should I say, salty. I like that.
|Wrangell Harbor at Dusk
Wrangell certainly lived up to its reputation as “the friendliest little town in Southeast Alaska,” as Tim and I can attest. It started with the manager at the ferry terminal and her staff, who went out of their way to help us find a place to get the RV repaired. People on the street spoke to us, and a man sitting with his family at a restaurant started a conversation with us.
Even more remarkable, however, was the elderly couple that called out to us as we were walking back to the RV from downtown. “Would you like a ride?” the woman asked us. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we had the nicest chat on our way to the RV. As we were getting out of the car, she gave us her telephone number and urged us to call if we needed anything at all. That was a first for us, and it left us with such a nice feeling about the people of Wrangell.
In addition to our jet boat adventure, we found lots of things to keep us busy. We seemed to find ourselves downtown for at least a little while every day and enjoyed walking by the boatyards. We also visited the Wrangell Museum. For such a small town, Wrangell has a very fine museum with an impressive collection that chronicles the history of the town and the Stikine River.
|Colorful Wrangell Harbor
|Tlinget Basket Collection at Wrangell Museum
We also visited Shakes Island where the Chief Shakes Tribal House is located. The Tribal House was recently restored and rededicated by local Native organizations. Several totem poles once stood on the island but have recently been taken down. We were still able to view the totems, which are now lying under the shelters while funding is sought for restoration or reproduction.
|Chief Shakes Tribal House
On one morning we hiked to Rainbow Falls through the lush, old growth temperate rainforest. The trail was less than a mile in length, one way, and mostly on a boardwalk surface. The trail may have been short, but boy were there a lot of steps to climb. The view of the falls and Shoemaker Bay was a nice reward.
|That's Just the Start of the Steps
|Nice Spot for a Picnic
Our favorite activity (excluding the jet boat ride!) was a visit to Petroglyph Beach. This State Historic Site contains the largest concentration of rock art in Southeast Alaska. There are more than 40 petroglyphs hidden among the rocks, and it is believed that at least some date back 8,000 years.
Tim and I had a great time walking along the beach and searching for the carvings. They were not so easy to find, even for an archeologist like Tim. Once we found the first one, however, we seemed to more quickly spot others. There were a few other searchers on the beach, and we enjoyed assisting each other. Tim was especially helpful in pointing out the petroglyphs to the newcomers and offering insight into the stylistic differences.
|Do You See This One?
|Face Designs Like This Are Likely Older
|Spirals Are Universal Designs
|Other Finds at Petroglyph Beach
|Look Closely Among the Rocks Here to Find Petroglyphs
On our last day, a cruise ship docked in Wrangell, and almost 500 passengers set out to explore the town. We somehow managed to avoid the bus tours, even though we at times visited the same sites. As we were leaving Petroglyph Beach, for example, two busloads pulled in. Gee, that was close. As it turned out, the ship was the Seven Seas Navigator, the same one Tim and I sailed on for our honeymoon. It was actually sort of fun to see her again. We certainly loved our Mediterranean cruise, and I’m sure that this Alaska cruise is one of the better ones offered.
|Seven Seas Navigator Docked in Wrangell