Craig is a town of just over 1,000 people on Prince of Wales Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska.
It is the most populous town on the island and the westernmost, located about 56 miles northwest of Ketchikan.
Commercial fishing and timber are the two largest industries in Craig, with Viking Lumber Company a few miles outside of town producing a lot of the island’s softwoods.
Unlike most of Southeast Alaska, the most common group of Native Alaskans in Craig and the rest of Prince of Wales is the Haida people. They also give their name to the nearby village of Hydaburg.
The Haida settled here after a series of attacks by British and American colonists forced them to leave their homes in Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, in British Columbia.
After a Haida elder and clan leader was accidentally killed by a Tlingit warrior, the Tlingit gave land to the Haida as a peace offering, which included Prince of Wales Island.
Prince of Wales Island is the fourth-largest island in Alaska and the 97th-largest island in the United States. The city of Craig is officially listed as 7.2 square land miles.
The island, like many in Southeast Alaska, was named by George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, who named it after the then-Prince of Wales who later became King George IV. The traditional Tlingit name for the island is “Taan,” which translates as “sea lion.”
Things to Do in Craig
Island Charters and Prince of Wales Excursion Outfitters both offer a variety of water adventures, including whale and otter watching, fishing charters, tours of Prince of Wales Island, and much more.
Land tours of Prince of Wales Island are also available from Craig, with buses taking visitors to visit
There are also many public parks and hiking trails available for use, including the two-mile-long Sunnahae Trail, which is a little steep but provides some amazing views.
In early April every year, Prince of Wales Island hosts the annual Whalefest, which features guided tours, whale watching expeditions, guest speakers, and fishermen relating their experiences with whales. Craig is host to many of these events.
The Craig Aquatic Center has swimming pools, a fitness room, a hot tub, and a sauna. Open swims are scheduled from 6 PM to 7 PM Monday through Saturday.
If you’re planning a trip to Craig, be sure to check out our (short) list of things to do in Craig.
How to Get to Craig
Despite being the most populous city on Prince of Wales Island, there is actually very little direct access to the town.
There is a seaplane base that allows float plane access to the city, but it typically sees less than 5,000 visits per year.
Craig also does not have its own airport, although small aircraft can land in nearby Klawock, about a ten-minute drive from town.
There are also no cruise ships that stop either in Craig or anywhere on Prince of Wales Island, as nearby Ketchikan is a much larger and more popular destination.
The most common way to get to Craig involves taking a voyage on the M/V Prince of Wales or the M/V Stikine, operated by the Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA).
The IFA dock is actually on the other side of the island in Hollis, which is about a one-hour drive from Craig. The main road between the two is well-maintained, unlike other roads on the island.
Since vehicles are highly recommended for visiting Craig and the rest of Prince of Wales, cars can be rented in Ketchikan before the ferry or in Hollis after landing.
Where to Stay, Eat, and Shop
There are several hotels and other lodging options in town. For a traditional hotel experience, The Great Blue Heron Inn on 9th Street provides amazing views of the water.
For visitors looking for a cozy stay, Aimee’s Rental Cabins on 4th Street offers individual cabins with full kitchens, satellite television, and couches in the living room.
The Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast on East Hamilton Drive has beautiful views of the water in the southern part of town. Fishing charters are also available.
Visitors interested in fishing charters can also stay at one of the fishing lodges in town, like Shelter Cove Lodge.
The Dockside Cafe downtown is conveniently located near the water and has several excellent brunch options. Other excellent choices include Njord’s seafood restaurant, Papa’s Pizza, and Zat’s Pizza
Near The Dockside Cafe downtown is the General Store, a convenience store that also sells souvenirs and other items.
The Camo Shop on Cold Storage Road has a wide variety of clothing available, as well as screenprinting and other services.
History of Craig
Craig was used as a fishing ground by the Tlingit people who lived on nearby islands for thousands of years before the territorial rights were ceded to the Haida by the Tlingit government.
In 1907, a man named Craig Miller established a fish salting facility on nearby Fish Egg Island, with the help of the Haida.
Miller then built a fish packing plant and a cold storage facility on Prince of Wales, which was the beginning of the city that would bear his name. In 1922, the town was fully incorporated.
The population expanded in 1930 after a then-record-setting pink salmon run, then decreased around 1945 after the fish population was reduced.
The city was revitalized in the mid-1950s when the nearby Viking Lumber Company was built, which provided year-round employment.
Today, Craig is proud to be Prince of Wales’ largest town and can’t wait to welcome you on your next Alaskan fishing charter!