Wrangell Wildlife Viewing
Wrangell is the gateway city for the Stikine River. As one of the few rivers that pass through the rugged coastal mountains that separate Southeast Alaska from the interior of North America, the Stikine is a major travel corridor for wildlife. Look for moose, black bears, mountain goats and harbor seals as you travel the river throughout the summer. Each spring, large numbers of birds may be seen on and near the tidal flats at the river’s mouth. Bald eagles congregate on the river in early to mid April, snow geese typically arrive in mid to late April, and migrating shorebirds arrive in late April and early May. The Stikine River Garnet Festival, held the third week of April, celebrates the arrival of migrating birds. The weeklong festival includes wildlife and birding education, keyote speakers, tours to the Stikine Flats, and local artistic and cultural events. Also in the spring, large groups of sea lions congregate on Leisnoi Island, located between Wrangell and the Stikine, to feed and “socialize.” It is sometimes possible to hear their bellowing from town, especially at Petroglyph Beach. Most charter trips and tours will go by the island on the way to the river, especially if visitors ask to see the sea lions.
- Black Bear
- Harbor Seal
- Mountain Goat
- Peeps and Sandpipers
- Steller's Sea Lion
The second largest concentration of bald eagles in the world occurs during the annual spring run of eulachon, a small oily fish (sometimes called “hooligan” by locals) that provides many animals with their first major food source after the scarce winter months. Grasses and sedges shoot up in the spring on the Stikine Flats at the mouth of the river, attracting up to 10,000 snow geese each year. For thousands of shorebirds, like sandpipers and plovers, the Stikine Delta is a critical refueling stopover during annual migrations. These birds feed on tiny invertebrates and small fish before continuing their journey to their Arctic breeding grounds.
- Within Walking Distance
Consult with the Visitor’s Bureau or USDA Forest Service’s Wrangell Ranger District for the most recent information about bird activity on the Stikine when planning a trip. For information on the Garnet Festival, visit http://www.wrangellchamber.org/garnet.php.
Plan to spend at least: 4 hours - full day+
█ Best Month
- Best Month April
- Best Month May
- Best Month June
- Best Month July
- Best Month August
- Best Month September
Several local companies run boat tours on the river in the spring and summer. Most boat tours leave from downtown near the Stikine Inn.
Wrangell Convention and Visitor’s Bureau 1-800-367-9745 USDA Forest Service, Wrangell Ranger District 907-874-2323
Wings Over Alaska http://www.birding.alaska.gov/