It’s so difficult to get to Passages Alaska
It’s a two hour flight from Seattle to Ketchikan and then either a short 30 minute flight or a scenic 3 hour ferry ride to our island. There are three airlines and a large car carrying ferry that provide service to Prince of Wales (POW) Island from Ketchikan. It's a little more complicated getting here but it's definitely worth it!
-It’s so far north:
Prince of Wales island is on the very southern tip of Alaska. We are closer to Seattle than we are to Anchorage
-Don’t They Wear Parkas & Live in Igloos?
NO! We generally have similar weather to Seattle and the Washington’s Olympic Peninsula The weather on POW is very moderate. It doesn’t get too hot and it doesn’t get too cold. Most of the time, winter temperatures are above freezing and summer temperatures seldom reach the 80’s.Parkas? Not most people and Igloo’s? Not here. Pema frost is reserved for the further north and much colder parts of Alaska.
-There’s too much snow.
The Japanese current warms the waters on the west side Prince of Wales Island and keeps the low elevations from accumulating much snow. It occasionally snows on the beaches where we camp but it doesn’t stay for long.
-It’s dark all winter and light all summer:Our daylight hours climate are similar to Seattle. At the shortest we get 7 hours of daylight in the winter. And likewise in the summer, the shortest night is about 7 hours.
-Students have to be able to canoe
:Most students that come do not know how to canoe. They develop the safety practices and necessary skills as they go. Staff members teach needed skills and ensure compliance with safety practices and students take on a mentor role for newer students.
-Students have to be in shape and not have any physical limitations
We travel by canoe at Passages Alaska so we are able to accommodate students with a varying range of physical ability.
-It’s dangerous with Grizzly Bears
There are NO grizzly bears on Prince of Wales Island.There are black bears that have plenty to eat, with salmon and berries, and other vegetation. We keep a clean camp and we use bear bins so they don’t associate humans with a meal ticket. Generally, bears prefer to stay away from humans.
-It’s so remote there’s nothing there
Yes, we operate in a remote area where our participants probably won’t have any opportunity for unintended contact with outside influences. Prince of Wales Island however, has two full service medical clinics, several grocery stores, sporting goods store, dining, schools and infrastructure to support our over 5500 year-round residents. POW Island is also home to some of the best sport fishing for cold water species in the world. There is a robust tourist industry here and it really is a world class eco touring destination.
-It’s so remote there’s no way to contact
Cell service with AT&T works well in Klawock and Craig as well as portions of our operating area. We maintain nearly real time communication in the field with Garmin In Reach satellite Communicators.
Passages Alaska uses the Marco Polo App-Marco Polo combines the best of texting, social media and video chats and it’s a great way for parents to actually see and hear their student. Students and families exchange messages weekly.
-Sleeping on the ground in a rainy area is too wet.
At Passages Alaska we love our hammocks. Add an under-quilt, pad and sleeping bag then add a tarp and voila! A very comfortable wilderness sleep system.
-The diet consists of oatmeal, peanut butter, rice and beans, and lentils like most wilderness programs.
Passages Alaska students have the ocean to provide for meals and at times we eat fresh salmon, halibut and Dungeness crab. Traveling by canoe allows us to carry the amenities that would be unrealistic on a backpack trip. We keep a Dutch Oven in camp and participants help and learn to prepare recipes that can be standard fare and wonderful treats back in the “real” world; including fresh fruit and vegetables.
Click on the button below to see an interactive map where we are and some of our camp sittes.