Wrangell is located on the northern tip of Wrangell Island, an island in the Alaska Panhandle and 155 miles south of Alaska’s capital of Juneau. One of Alaska’s most historic and oldest towns, Wrangell is named after the island, which was named after Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel, a Russian seafarer and the head of the Russian-American Company from 1830 to 1835. The town is an interesting mix of Alaska Native culture, industry and tourism with a history dating back to Russian rule. Originally Wrangell was the site of a stockade built to fight off Canadian fur traders then drifted into British control and eventually became American.
Wrangell lies across the narrow Zimovia Strait from the mouth of the Stikine River on Alaska’s mainland. The Stikine River, which reaches the ocean near Wrangell, was an important historical trading route to the Canadian interior and a powerful influence on Wrangell’s rich Native heritage. At the mouth of the river lies Garnet Ledge, the source of many of Alaska’s garnets. The ledge was deeded to the local children, who have exclusive rights to mining and selling the beautiful stones. Wrangell also boasts the highest concentration of petroglyphs (ancient rock carvings) in southeastern Alaska.