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Whale Pass, Alaska

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Our Story

Whale Pass is on the northeast side of Prince of Wales Island, north of Coffman Cove. The town sits on a bay in Whale Passage, named by a Navy commander in the 1880s. Orcas and humpback whales are commonly seen in the pass, a nearly 10-mile-long strait between Thorne Island and Prince of Wales Island. The area has been the site of logging camps since 1964. In the early 1980s, the last camp moved out and the area was permanently settled through land disposal sales. The road system reached town in the early 1980s.

Recreational options are numerous. Neck Lake offers beautiful vistas. The shore road is a scenic wonder. Cavern Lake near town drains into a cave and reappears hundreds of feet away in stairstep waterfalls. Twin Island Lake provides a handsome mountain setting and good trout fishing. Exchange Cove offers beach camping. Beaver Falls Karst Trail is handicap accessible and offers a wonderful overview of karst systems. The U.S. Forest Service provides summertime tours of nearby El Capitan Cave for the more adventurous visitors (CLOSED until further notice).

Ancient Alaska Native fish traps and petroglyphs are seen at nearby salmon streams. Coho salmon fishing is enhanced by hatchery stocks released at Neck Lake, which drains in a series of dramatic falls. Visitor services include overnight lodging with meals; cabin rentals; a laundromat; guided stream fishing; and fishing and glacier charters on the scenic Inside Passage. A grocery store offers basic foodstuffs and fishing tackle, as well as products made by local artisans. Take-out food is available during the summer. A gas station opens on limited hours (diesel is not available). A vendor sells fishing and hunting licenses.

Construction and contracting services are available in Whale Pass. A postal drop offers twice-weekly service for outgoing and incoming mail. Whale Pass Bible Church holds regular services at 11 a.m. Sundays. Whale Pass Community Association operates a state-owned seaplane base, a dock, boat slips and a launch ramp. Medical/EMS
and fire department services are available.

Accommodations in Whale Pass, Alaska

There are plenty of places to stay in Whale Pass, but they can fill up fast especially in the summer months so it’s best to plan ahead. Check out the accommodations available in Whale Pass and contact them today to book your trip!

Hiking Near Whale Pass, Alaska

There’s no better way to start your day in Alaska then by taking a hike. Check out the hiking trails located near Whale Pass and add them to your itinerary. You’ll be sure to hear and see a plethora of wildlife and abundant plant life in the forests!
Most difficult

Shipley Bay Trail

This more difficult 3/4 mile hiking trail extends from Shipley Bay Cabin to Shipley Lake where there is a Forest Service skiff for public use.

Distance: .75 miles
Average: 45 minutes
Most difficult

Salmon Bay Lake Trail

Salmon Bay Lake Trail extends from the saltwater flats of Salmon Bay to a forest service cabin. This 1.5 mile hike accesses a skiff that is used to access the cabin. The trail is rated more difficult because of muddy areas and bad footing on the trail as well as some moderate climbing at the […]

Distance: 1.5 miles
Average: 1.5 hours
More difficult

Red Bay Lake Trail

Red Bay Lake Trail extends from the trailhead on Forest Road #20 to a row boat at the north end of Red Bay Lake, providing visitors access to Red Bay Lake cabin. The row across the lake takes about an hour. The trail is mostly boardwalk and winds between large cedar trees and crosses over […]

Distance: .75 miles
Average: 45 minutes
Most difficult

El Capitan Cave Trail

Animal sightings are rare at El Capitan Cave, but there is abundant wildlife sign. River otter tracks are sometimes visible. Small organisms live on rocks and in pools. Bears have used the cave for thousands of years. A 370-step staircase leads to the cave entrance and the U.S. Forest Service runs free guided cave tours […]

Distance: .25 miles
Average: 45 minutes

Upcoming Events in Whale Pass, Alaska

Check to see what events are happening in Whale Pass, Alaska during your visit. Attending local events is a great way to get immersed in the rich culture on Prince of Wales Island. There are many festivals and celebrations planned throughout the year!
  • Start: May 26th, 2024
    Location: Whale Pass
    Contact: Michelle Dempsey
    Contact Email:
  • Visitor Testimonials

    Giles Manwarning

    Was there in the late 1980's just one word BEAUTIFUL!

    1962 Fish & Game Temporary Employee - Gary Varney

    During 1962, while employed by the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game, I lived in a cabin on Big Creek for about 9 months. I was involved in a project to count salmon eggs in the gravel, just hatched salmon heading for the ocean, and adult salmon heading upstream to spawn. In early June 2023, my wife and I intend to visit POW Island with our 5th wheel trailer. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes that 61 years have brought!

    133° 10’ W Longitude — 56° 06’ N Latitude
    est. 80

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