Alaska is one of the popular tourist destinations and vacation spots for travelers. Many will visit the state on a cruise ship while viewing the magnificent glaciers and breathtaking views of nature. If you're an outdoorsy type that likes to stay active while vacationing, there's a ton of things to do in the state, particularly Southeast Alaska.
The coastal route for ships and boats through Southeast Alaska is known as the "inside passage,". As you navigate through this mountainous passage, you will see natural habitats for all types of wildlife, like bald eagles, sea lions, and porpoises. There's much more to Alaska than glaciers, polar bears, and cold weather. Not only is it one of the most beautiful and pristine parts of the world, there are many opportunities for the active visitor to explore and experience the real Alaska. Some of the popular activities include fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. You can also do tours on land to view the indigenous wildlife or boat for marine life. The city of Ketchikan facing the inside passage, is a good location to find amazing fishing and a host of other fun outdoor activities. This area of Alaska is also known for the colorful totem poles that were created by the native Indians in the area. Contact Southeast Alaska Rental and allow us to assist you with accommodations for your stay in Alaska.
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Alaska and the experience is not only mind blowing, but very humbling as well. You will venture out to the deep waters with a tour guide and get the opportunity to see the magnificent, gentle creatures feeding, swimming or moving in and out of the water. Kayaking is another way of experiencing the ocean, but on a deeper level. It's almost like a feeling of oneness, and more of a connection with the ocean and its inhabitants. As you're flowing with the waves, you can see many of the ocean's marine life up close. Whales, seals, otters, and minks to name a few. A kayak can also navigate those tight spots for those wanting to explore areas like caves and coves. Rafting is another fun experience on the water, where you'll be able to view beautiful scenery and get an easy workout. The Mendenhall River, that was formed from the runoff of the landmark Mendenhall glacier, is a good place to go rafting. Hiking is another activity to see Alaska up close, as there are endless trails available, from top to bottom. They run through the landscapes from the top of the mountains all the way down to the ocean.
Sitka, Alaska is a beautiful city in Southeast Alaska and the home of Sitka National Historical Park. It's the oldest National Park in Alaska and boasts miles of trails, as well as access to beach areas. Nature lovers can walk for miles through acres of nature and cool off in the many tidepools. Denali National Park and Preserve is another great destination to experience wildlife and view amazing scenery. The park is centered on the highest mountain in North America. Sport hunting, camping, and hiking are a few of the favored activities. Wild animals abound but interaction is limited with some, to maintain their wildness and your safety. These include birds, bears, caribou, sheep and moose. This park is known around the world for its amazing scenery and wildlife. Another area to visit in Southeast Alaska is the Misty Fjords National Monument, which is located about 40 miles east of Ketchikan. This national monument and wilderness area has been described as being spectacular and awe-inspiring, among other things. There is much to see including granite cliffs, crystal clear lakes, roaring waterfalls, and colossal glaciers. We haven't even mentioned the beautiful people of this unique state. While visiting the splendor that is Alaska, our Southeast Alaska Rental will be your home away from home.
Commercial fishing for salmon and herring is a huge industry in Southeast Alaska, which employs a significant number of our residents. While you’re out on the water sport fishing during your visit, you’re likely to see commercial boats out on the water fishing near you. These vessels are commonly independently owned and operated by locals who then sell their fish to processors, which is how they provide for their families.
Sport fishers from around the world come to POW Island during the summer to get their fill of fun and fishing on the ocean. Whether you want to come in April-May for the Steelhead, May-June for Chinook Salmon, July-September for Coho Salmon or Halibut, you’re sure to get a boatful of fish. Freshwater fishing is also extremely popular. August and September are the best time of year to get your limit of Coho, so bring your fly rod and visit one of the popular fishing destinations in Klawock or Whale Pass.
After a few days fishing, you’re going to have more than enough to keep your family and friends fed with fresh seafood for the rest of the year. There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling a package of salmon or halibut out of the freezer, and reminiscing about your Alaskan adventure!
Before you go out fishing, it’s important to ensure you have the correct licenses and know the regulations. Residents and non-residents have different regulations regarding what type and the number of fish you can keep. Additionally, there are times during the season when regulations are changed, so make sure you’re aware of the rules in place during your visit. For more information on sport fishing regulations, please visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.
The opportunities to explore are endless on Prince of Wales Island. Hike up into the alpine following old logging roads to forgotten lakes. Cruise through the islands and get lost exploring the beauty Southeast Alaska has to offer by charter or self-guided boat. Fly high above it all in a float plane, and spend the day exploring remote beaches not often seen by humans.
No matter where your Alaskan adventure takes you, the memories you make will be ones you’ll store for a lifetime. Between the towering trees, flowing waterfalls, soaring eagles, breaching whales, abundant fish, and plentiful deer, there’s something for everyone here. Come looking for an adventure, and you’ll leave having found so much more!
Prince of Wales Island is located in the Tongass National Forest, and as such, a lot of our land is managed by the Forest Service. Whether you’re looking for beaches for tidepooling and picnicking, trails for hiking and biking, rivers for kayaking and canoeing, or cabins for remote fishing and camping, a plethora of information about activities on the island can be found on their website.
For a nice day trip, consider a drive out to Sandy Beach (near Craig) or Memorial Beach (past Whale Pass) for a little tidepooling and a picnic lunch. If you’re interested in a nice hike to check out Harris River Trail or Twenty Mile Spur Trail (both near Hollis). For a little more exciting adventure, visit the El Capitan Caves or canoe the Honker Divide.
Our island has numerous attractions, so to make the most of your stay it’s important to plan ahead. Maps of the island can be purchased through the Prince of Wales Chamber of Commerce. Additional information about the adventure that awaits you on POW can be found on the Travel Alaska website.
There is nothing more breathtaking than watching humpback and orca whales jump and play around you. From late spring to later summer, May to September, you are bound to hear them blowing their spouts in the distance and slapping their tails to show off. While whales can sometimes be seen from shore, the best way to see them is from the deck of a boat.
Whether you’re out fishing for the day and happen to spot a pod, or you’re on a trip specifically designed to see the most whales, these giants of the ocean are sure to leave you awe-stricken. With an average length of 45 feet, humpback whales are best viewed from a distance. They are baleen whales which means they feed on small ocean animal like krill, but their size alone warrants keeping your distance. Make sure your camera is set to multi-shot mode so you are most likely to get a good picture!
Humpback whales spend the winter months in warm waters near the tropics and then migrate to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska. They are typically independent foragers, but during the spring and summer when their favorite foods are abundant, small fish and krill, they can often be seen in large groups. These are the best times to see them in action!
While humpbacks are the most commonly sighted whales, you may be one of the lucky people to see a pod of Orcas. Whereas humpbacks tend to find a food source and stay in the area, Orcas tend to travel much farther and faster. Orcas are toothed whales which feed primarily on fish and marine mammals (sea otters, seals and sea lions), and are known to have well-developed brains and social systems. Orca sightings are unpredictable, so for your best chances to see them, talk to local tour guides and experts so they can take you out or point you in the right direction (https://www.princeofwalescoc.org/charters-guides-outfitters)!
Prince of Wales Island (POW) is home to a large population of Sitka black-tailed deer, black bears, gray wolves, as well as many smaller animals. While driving the Scenic By-Way across the island, be on the lookout for deer and bear which can commonly be seen on the sides of the roads. Drive carefully when deer and bear are around as they often cross the road without warning! Spring is a wonderful time to visit the island to see the baby deer and bear all over the place.
While you’re exploring, hiking, hunting or fishing, you’re bound to see a plethora of wildlife. Keep your cameras close at hand because you never know what you’ll see… to get the best pictures, remain as quiet as possible and use a long zoom. If you see a bear or a wolf, stay calm, make lot of noise with your voice, bells or air-horn and back away slowly… they are best viewed from a great distance. Respect their space and they will respect yours!
If you prefer shooting with a rifle rather than a camera, hunting on POW is best in the spring and fall. Hunting on POW consists of Black bear in the Spring (May-June) and Fall (beginning in September) and Sitka black-tail in the Fall (beginning in August). The regulations for hunters are subject to change, so please be sure you understand the rules before you set out on your adventure. For more information on hunting regulations, licenses and permits, please visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Website: Licensing , Regulation.
The north end of the island is the best for hunting due to the extreme remoteness. Across the island you’ll find areas called clear-cuts in which the trees have been harvesting by logging. These are the best areas for hunting deer as they are often found grazing in these areas. Black bear can be a little harder to find, but if you hunt in the Spring bait can be used to bring them out of hiding. In addition to being able to use bait, the meat is much tastier!
The majestic bald-eagle can be frequently seen around the island. While you’re out fishing, they can often be seen perched high in the trees scanning the water for salmon. Watch them circle their potential dinner, plan their attack and then swoop down… if you’re lucky you’ll witness this amazing fisher catch its dinner and take it back to shore. Or fight it out with another eagle.
Other birds you’re likely to see out fishing are golden eagles, goshawk, and osprey. These beautiful raptors are a sign that the fish are plentiful, so when you see them get your pole in the water… just keep your fingers crossed that they don’t try to snag your catch of the day!
Listen carefully and you may just hear the birds calling out across the water to their bird friends letting them know when food is found in the area. Watch the number of birds grow before your eyes as you get to watch the discovery channel live… nature is a beautiful thing to behold!
Alaska is home to 471 species of birds, 350 of which can be found in Southeast Alaska, which makes it a birder’s paradise. The Fall Southeast Alaska Bird Observation Report (August-November 2017) noted sightings of the following birds in Craig and on the greater POW Island: Great Egret, Gyrfalcon, White-Crowned Sparrow, Great White-Fronted Snow Goose, Eurasian Collared Dove, and Pine Siskin.
The west side of the island is designated by the Audubon as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for a variety of Auklets and Petrels. The Outer Island Marine IBA is home to 154,189 Rhinoceros Auklet, and Forrester Island IBA is home to many birds including Cassin's auklet (44,400), Rhinoceros Auklet (108,030), Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel (111,212), and Leach's storm-petrel (575,688). The Alaska Audubon is also in the process of developing a Southeast Alaska Birding Trail. More information and updates can be found on their site (Southeast Alaska Birding Trail).
Additional information about what birds you can see in the area can be found on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.
Prince of Wales Island is located in Southeast Alaska and is situated within the Tongass National Rainforest. Throughout the year, we may get as much as 200 inches of rain, which is what makes our landscape so lush! In the old growth forests, there are trees close to 800 years old. Remnants of these old growth trees can be found in various locations across the island where the timber was harvested in years past.
The timber industry has been rapidly declining over the years which has cause island residents to redefine how they earn their livelihoods. Now rather than logging, many people are involved in the tourism industry. There is something undeniably special about the rugged beauty you can find in Alaska. People of all ages come to Alaska looking for adventure, and they never leave disappointed!
The abundant natural resources and spectacular sights are a boon to local artists and photographers. Many of our local residents specialize in creating beautiful works of art out of found items such as shells, sea glass, conchs, moss, washed up fishing gear, and driftwood. As you’re out and about adventuring across the island, keep your eyes open for special items on the beaches you could take home and create your own works of art. If you’re not that crafty, many local artists hold classes and sell their art at gift shops in town.
Photographs can preserve your memories, but often visitors spend more time behind their lenses rather than focusing on the present moment. Snap a couple pictures to capture the moment, and then put your phones away so you can enjoy every second of the sights and sounds you’re unlikely to see anywhere else in the world!