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.
Port Protection is nestled in a quiet cove three miles south of the northern tip of the west side of Prince of Wales Island. Access is by boat or floatplane. A gravel boat launch at Labouchere Bay, a little more than a mile from the community, provides access to the road system.
In the early 1900s, Wooden Wheel Johnson gave the cove its name. A trading post established in 1946 ran for a quarter of a century, growing into a warehouse, rental cabins, dock facilities and fuel sales. The permanent community of Port Protection was established in 1981 through the state’s land disposal program.
Commercial fishing is the principal industry; gillnetters and trollers homeport here. Local artists produce drawings, paintings, carvings of wooden boxes and writing. Full-service and self-service lodging is available nearby. A boardwalk in the forest provides charming access to residents’ homes. Most services are seasonal in Port Protection. Call Wooden Wheel Cove Trading Post for updated information: 907-489-2222.
For remarkable photographic and narrative perspectives on this community and the area,
see an island resident's blog at www.alaskafloatsmyboat.com.
Welcome to Hollis, where your Prince of Wales Island journey begins and everybody waves. Hollis is on the east side of Prince of Wales Island, 22 miles east of Craig and 35 miles west of Ketchikan by water. Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) brings island residents and visitors to Hollis from Ketchikan every day. IFA’s homeport and our floatplane dock are in Clark Bay on Twelve Mile Arm.
Originally a bustling mining town and later a logging camp, Hollis was settled after 1980 through state land sales. Hollis is now a nonprofit community with an elected community council. Hollis Public Library has internet service and books and movies for visitors to enjoy. The library hosts a summer reading program for all kids. Hollis’ small public dock is just down the road from the library.
Hollis Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) and Emergency Medical Services are equipped with a modern building, a pumper truck and ambulance. Members collaborate with the school for EMT training and conduct a Junior Fire Department program. Every August, HVFD hosts the Chili & Cornbread Feed, Art & Farmers’ Market and Fundraiser—a chance to vie for the Golden Ladle honoring the best chili on the island.
Hollis School’s 25 pre-K through 12th-grade students participate in mastery learning. Two teachers support multi-age groups’ academic skill development and exploration through rich reading and writing, projects, art and fieldwork. The school’s chickens, geese and ducks, outdoor art and large garden reflect students' learning.
The best place to watch the stars in Hollis is at the overlook and welcome sign. It has a bulletin board that gives important information about what is going on in Hollis. The Harris River picnic area, with a covered shelter, tables and a fireplace, allows you to relax after a walk on the foot trail, a game of horseshoes and fishing in the adjacent river.
You can feel the charming history in the beautiful town of Craig, Alaska. They have excellent walking trails. The old cannery is an "out and back" type walk that showcases historical artifacts from the Japan Tsunami and at the end is a beautiful hand carved memorial to those lost at sea. The ballpark/graveyard trail is also an "out and back" type that highlights a veterans memorial with a fascinating canopy of trees and many picture friendly sites. The enjoyable 1-mile is low impact, yet slightly challenging is pet-friendly and one you will remember. You can walk "the loop" around Hamilton for a perfect 3 mile walk about. Our Healing Heart Totem Pole is a sacred spot which thousands have visited to share its meaning. We have local artist shops and stores that will ensure you leave with a memorable gift from your trip. Many local restaurants and taverns and over 25 local B&B's and hotels to choose from, they know you will find a place that makes you feel at home.
Craig also hosts The Island Grind monthly which provides music and entertainment to all followed by a light dessert. Monthly swap meet and events are listed on craigak.com. There's not a month that goes by that doesn't have a special event. The 4th of July is a special time of year with more than 3 days of packed events. This year Craig is hosting the Island Art Extravaganza in September! They offer free site seeing trips through city hall, and you can even volunteer for a day and ride with their local EMS squad or the fight the fire you've always dreamed of!
Tlingit and Haida peoples traditionally used this area for its rich seafood resources, and still do. Craig is the most populous community on Prince of Wales Island and the leading business center.
In the early 1900s, a fish saltery was established on nearby Fish Egg Island and a salmon cannery was built in Craig. Beginning in the 1950s, Craig’s major industry was logging, but with changes in demand and less available timber for sale, the town has diversified into many other economic sectors.
Craig is the retail, service and transportation hub of the Island. Fishing, fish processing, timber operations, government and commercial services provide employment and goods for the community. Tourism and recreational opportunities also abound in Craig and surrounding areas. Among the recreational facilities are a community swimming pool, a city gym and numerous parks. A number of fishing charters and wildlife-watching options are available.