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Prince of Wales Island

Prince of Wales Island, Alaska – Where the Wild Things Are

Prince of Wales Island provides the perfect venue to drop out and get in touch with your wilder nature. For the adventurer seeking a road less traveled, this SE Alaska destination offers a lot to discover.

There are two distinct versions of Prince of Wales Island, the one that 99% of visitors from the lower 48 will experience, and the one I am about to describe. For most visitors, Prince of Wales Island is known for its many world-class fishing lodges and resorts which dot both the eastern and western shores. For a few who dare to look behind the curtain and venture into the interior, Prince of Wales Island is a vast wilderness of pristine temperate rainforest waiting to be explored.

Prince of Wales Island

If you’re going to Prince of Whales Island’s interior, don’t expect to find the services you’re accustomed to at home like a Starbucks or McDonald’s on every corner. You’ll want to bring most of your supplies, as the cost of goods and services on the island are somewhat inflated but more importantly limited. There are over 1,500 miles of road to explore leading to spectacular inlets and bays with views or the surrounding islands.

Prince of Wales Island
Thorne Bay

There are ample opportunities to hook into all five species of salmon as well as steelhead (early spring), rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and arctic char while you’re exploring the diverse regions of the island. The Klawock River offers some great salmon action as does the Thorne. If you want to bring home copious amounts of fish I suggest getting out on the ocean. Saltwater charters are popular from Craig. Coffman Cove, Klawock, Naukati and Thorne Bay also have limited charter services.

The Prince of Wales Island road system is a mixture of paved byways and hard packed dirt. If you’re going to explore the miles and miles of logging roads, I’d recommend a four wheel drive vehicle equipped with winch. There are ample camping options on Prince of Wales Island. As a matter of fact you can camp most anywhere as long as you’re not within town limits. The island is all part or Tongass National Forest which is the largest in the United States with over 17 million acres.

There are designated campsites located between Craig and El Capitan, but the best spots you will discover on your own. There is a sense of freedom that you just can’t find anymore. If I were to sum up the island culture, it would be just to live and let live. A rich Native American culture thrives on Prince of Wales Island. The two tribes that inhabit the island and its surroundings are the Tlingit, and Haida. The Tlingit are concentrated in Klawock, and the Haida are concentrated in Hydaburg. If you go to Hydaburg, you will see a great collection of totems, but don’t expect a warm welcome. In contrast I found my Klawock totem park visit quite memorable. I meet a Tlingit named George from the Raven clan.

Passing BoatGeorge invited me to his humble home and we shared music and gifts for over two hours. Prince of Wales Island is located 600 miles north of Seattle. It is the third largest Island in the US. Alaska Airlines provides service to Ketchikan International Airport. Float or wheel plane service is available to Hollis, Klawock or Craig. The Inter-Island Ferry service is just a three hour ride from Ketchikan to Hollis. Ketchikan 90 minutes from Seattle via Alaska Airlines. If you’re interested in learning more about Alaska and Prince of Wales Island, contact Alaska’s Inside Passage by calling 800-926-2477

4 comments

  1. Demetri says:

    Alaska is a wonderful place to live. I grew up in a small town caelld Valdez that is ideal for families: supportive community, a lot of school activities for kids to be a part of, safe, on the road system, and the wilderness is at your backdoor. The past five years I have been teaching in the Bering Straight School District (BSSD) up by Norton Sound. There are a lot of teaching opportunities in bush communities like the district I am with. Of the rural Alaska school districts, I believe BSSD to be the best educational program with the most teacher support. It might be a great place for you and your family to begin researching. There are so many amazing small communities on the road system that would be a dream to get into, however those locations are typically more difficult to get your foot in the door. Families come and stay for life. Out here there is a lot of fluctuation of staff over the years. There are a lot of unique experiences you will see out here (meaning northern Alaska): limited grocery selection (we generally buy the bulk of our supply at the beginning of the year), long, cold winters, having to fly out to go anywhere (even on student trips), your teaching staff becomes your family, etc. Some communities love for the teachers to explore the surrounding environment, but there are also some communities where it is illegal for a white person to be more than 3 miles from the city limits. You and your husband will want to check that out. The whole reason to live out here is to take part in what the world has to offer! If you have any more specific questions, feel free to send them on!

    • I appreciate your insights on living on POW Island. Most people just fly in to fish at a resort of lodge and never really get what goes for local residents. My wife is a teacher so I enjoyed your comments regarding education on the island.

  2. Jake says:

    If you enjoy seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, Prince of Wales is the place to be. There are many wildlife viewing sites that you can choose from. Many of them have viewing platforms that are wheelchair accessible and that have restrooms. There are about 1,300 miles of roads on the island. Some of the roads are paved and some are well-maintained gravel roads, making it easy to get around.

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