The Stikine River has drawn anglers, loggers and gold miners to Wrangell for decades. Now this southeast Alaska town attracts tourists, many of whom arrive via small cruise ships.
The only Alaska community ruled under three flags by four nations—Russia, Great Britain, the U.S. and the much-feared Stikine Tlingits—Wrangell boasts a 5-mi/8-km waterfront bike path dotted with ancient rock drawings at Petroglyph Beach. Kiksetti Totem Park, Chief Shakes Island and Tribal House, and the Wrangell Museum provide a glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of Alaska Natives.
Wrangell is located near the mouth of the Stikine River, the fastest free-flowing, navigable river in North America, in an area that naturalist John Muir praised as a 100-mi-/161-km-long Yosemite.
Nearby, accessible by boat or airplane, are the LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America, and the Anan Wildlife Observatory, a traditional Alaska Native hunting and fishing site where brown and black bears go to feed on pink salmon.
In April, as many as 1,600 bald eagles fly in to feast on the annual hooligan run, and 8,000-10,000 snow geese stop by on their annual migration.
Today, Wrangell relies on its salmon-fishing industry and tourism. Since 1952, Wrangell has held a king salmon fishing derby every May and June and draws a crowd of avid fishermen and prize-money seekers (more than US$25,000 is awarded in cash and prizes).
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