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Wrangell is a small, friendly town located near the mouth of the Stikine River, the largest undammed river in North America. (John Muir, the 19th-century naturalist who founded the Sierra Club, made Wrangell his home base during his travels through Alaska.) Quintessentially Alaskan, it's the kind of place where the hardware stores keep better hours than the restaurants, and since the channel is hard to navigate, it isn't as overrun with cruise ship passengers as some of Southeast's other towns. The town has a museum of local history, and Shakes Island, in the middle of the small boat harbor, is a good place to see totem poles and a lodge house. Wrangell also has Southeast's only major gemstone deposit, a garnet mine—kids sell the dark purple stones at the ferry terminal and around town. Anan Wildlife Observatory and the rarely visited LeConte Glacier, one of the most actively calving glaciers in Alaska, are nearby.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

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The Heart of Southeast Alaska

Forget about the Cruise Line’s version of the Inside Passage. This is the heart of the real deal. Within 75 miles of Wrangell you’ll find bears, eagles, whales,... more