Wrangell Island



Wrangell Island


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Wrangell Island is a small, rugged island located in the Gulf of Alaska, about halfway between Anchorage and Seattle. With an area of only 9 square miles and a population of about 300 people, Wrangell is famously known for its wild salmon runs. The island is also home to bears, eagles, moose, and wolves. Apart from these animals, visitors can also find glaciers, mountain ranges, valleys, and lakes.

Wrangell Island


Wrangell Island was first explored by the Russian explorer and cartographer, Aleksandr Vilenskii, in 1832. The island was officially claimed by the United States in 1867 and became part of the Wrangell–St. Elias National Monument in 1907. However, it wasn’t until 1976 that commercial fishing began on Wrangell Island; this activity continues to this day.


The wildlife found on Wrangell Island is quite diverse and includes grizzlies, eagles, bears, moose bulls, caribou calves (known locally as “doe” bears), mink, eagles, and peregrine falcons. Wrangell island is home to the third largest Grizzly Bear population in Alaska after Anchorage (predominately an urban area) and Katmai National Park at Homer on Kodiak Island.

Every year a salmon run occurs where thousands of fish can be seen feeding in one spot for several days at a time with competitors no more than 20 yards away from each other The biggest part of this migration happens between June 10-August when eggs are hatching upriver .

The island has one of the largest and best-preserved natural salmon spawning streams in Alaska, which attracts thousands during a six-week period each summer. In addition to its other notable features, Wrangell’s earthen dikes are important as they are among the most complete surviving examples of their type left by America’s settlers; there is no land bridge between it and Resurrection Bay on mainland Kenai Peninsula that would permit direct passage from westerly winds like those prevalent further south along the Alaskan coast.


The climate of Wrangell Island is moderated by the Gulf Stream. Winters are long and cold, with average lows around 30 degrees F (-1 C) and highs in the low 50s F (10 C). Summer days can be oppressively hot, with a high temperature reaching into the 90s F (32-34 °C), but thunderstorms may move in from the Gulf at any time during this season. Rainfall averages about 58 inches annually, nearly half of which falls between June and September.


Wrangell culture is a blend of Aleut and Tlingit. Traditional Aleut items include soapstone bowls, walrus ivory carvings, and cedar paddles. Musical instruments include the ukulele, didgeridoo, and jaw harp.

The Tlingit tribe’s artistic traditions are well-known for their totem poles with intricate carving that depict salmon swimming upstream to spawn – Wrangell Island has the third largest population of grizzlies in Alaska after Anchorage (predominately an urban area) and Katmai National Park on Kodiak Island , and is known for the largest survivor population of black, grizzly bears in North America. The island also has 1,800 wintering eagles, including a nesting colony that is one of Alaska’s largest remaining (estimated between 30–50 eagles).


The island is divided between the towns of Petersburg and Wrangell. The borough president presides over both towns, with a mayor selected by popular vote. There are no incorporated cities on the island; all municipal services are provided by the boroughs. A U.S. Census Bureau facility, the Wrangell Alaska Native Tribal Health Center, is located on island a short distance from Petersburg’s population center and other services to rural residents of the island by various federal programs, including HHS (Department of Health and Human Services).

Numerous public restrooms are available in communities throughout all seasons as well as food storage, communications/weather stations staffed 24 hours per day year-round with state funding allocated for their maintenance over time by Congress’ earmarks program during fiscal years 2006 & 2012 respectively; prior to this lack there was no government or independently operated field research programs, although there are a number of privately operated research organizations including the Wrangell Ecosystem Science Center that often conduct scientific studies within and around the island.

Statehood Proclamation signed in June, 1958 states: “Whereas it is self-evident to any who may give attention to its natural beauty, opportunities which could be made available through statehood for such prosperity as would insure continued progress toward self-sufficiency”.

Government services

The boroughs have been self-governing since 1958. The borough presidents preside over both towns with a mayor selected by popular vote. There are no incorporated cities on the island; all municipal services are provided by the boroughs.

The Wrangell Island Borough Council is composed of nine members, six elected from single member districts and three at-large positions.

There are multiple web resources that provide information about state and local government in Alaska: Being a landlocked island, the Wrangells have no local roads. The only interior road is a spur from US-15 that leads to one of the islands unowned airport locations and deliver mail via boat service. In 2008, there were 33 vehicles registered with state or federal plates.



A number of cruise lines visit the Wrangells annually, providing tourists with dockside tours of various towns on the island. There are also overnight camping and fishing opportunities available in several places around both islands.



The airports on the island are Livermore Municipal Airport on St. Lawrence Island and Port Renfrew Airport on Wrangell Island Borough. The only railroad line in Alaska is the Healy Rail Service, which connects Petersburg to McGrath and Valdez, both in the Yakutat Bay Borough. There are no highways that connect with the mainland; all transportation must be arranged by boat or air taxi service from one of several ports on either island.


Nestled almost halfway between the Alaskan mainland and the Canadian province of British Columbia, Wrangell Island is a sparsely populated island that is home to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The island is also known for its abundant glaciers and dramatic scenery. Referred to as the “Great Land of Silence”, Wrangell Island is a delightfully serene destination that is perfect for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers.


What Is The Population Of Wrangell Island?

The population of Wrangell Island is approximately 300 people.

What Are The Main Attractions On The Island?

Some popular attractions on Wrangell Island include the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, glaciers, mountain ranges, and valleys.

What Is The Climate Like On Wrangell Island?

The climate on Wrangell Island is classified as temperate. This means that the weather is generally mild, with occasional cold fronts and heavy snowfalls. Winters are long and bitterly cold, while summers are warm but sometimes humid.

Are There Any Public Services Available On The Island?

Yes, there are public services available on Wrangell Island including medical clinics and a post office branch. Transport options include flights to Anchorage or Seattle via Delta Air Lines or Alaska Airlines respectively, as well as ferries that run between Wrangell and the mainland daily.

What Can I Expect To Cost Me?

The island is quite a bit more expensive than the rest of Alaska, so prices may be comparable or slightly higher when compared with other Alaskan destinations like Anchorage, Palmer, or Valdez/Wasilla.



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