St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Petersburg, Alaska

Even the Norwegian town of Petersburg Alaska knows how to honor the Irish. This years parade was held amidst rain and snow but the marchers carried on proud of their heritage and history. This years parade had all walks of life join in on the fun; from children who were apart of their local girl scout troop organization to the nursing homes van with its wonderful residents aboard. The parade was a short and sweet one and ended in the atrium up at the long term care arm of the hospital. We love our little island nestled away in South East Alaska — bag pipes and green cookies were enjoyed by all!  The luck of the Irish was amongst us!  

Your Personal Nite Lite in Petersburg, Alaska

Getting a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or “Aurora Borealis,” is usually at the top of the list for people visiting Alaska. People often think they have to travel far north to see them, but tourists visiting Petersburg, Alaska, can catch a glimpse of this spectacular light show too. These photos were taken right here in the heart of Petersburg by resident photographer Carey Carmichael Case, and perfectly capture the magnitude of the Northern Lights in this little fishing town.

While most people have heard of the Aurora Borealis, the origin of this unusual display of lights is less commonly understood. The “lights” we see are actually collisions between gaseous particles traveling from the sun into the earth’s atmosphere. This type of activity is only visible above the magnetic poles, and is called either “Aurora Borealis” (northern hemisphere) and “Aurora Australis” (southern hemisphere).

Each light show is different, and the colors depend on the type of gas particles colliding. The pale yellow-green that is most common is from lower-altitude oxygen molecules, and blues and purples come from nitrogen particles. Some people have seen the rare all-red aurora, which comes from high-altitude oxygen. The lights can appear in scattered patches, clouds, streamers, arcs, ripples, or rays that shoot across the sky. Each light show will be different from the last, and the only way to fully understand this breathtaking natural phenomenon is to experience it.

“Alaska’s Little Norway” is an ideal place to experience the Northern Lights, as well as an array of other unforgettable new experiences. If you’re ready to plan a trip or relocate to our island to see all of the wonderful things this little fishing town has to offer, we would love to assist you with your journey!  

5 Best Summer Activities to do in Petersburg

Planning a visit to Petersburg? Summer is by far the most popular time to visit, and with good reason — temperatures are pleasant and the sun doesn’t set until 8 or 9 at night, leaving plenty of time to hike, fish, and explore all the town has to offer. July is generally the peak tourist time in Alaska, so if you want to avoid some of the crowds and tourist prices, visiting toward the later part of August or even early September is ideal. Here are just a handful of activities you’ll want to be sure to work into your itinerary during a summer trip.

Take a hike.
Whether you’re in peak shape or haven’t broken in your hiking shoes yet, Petersburg offers trail options for all ages and experience levels. Some of our favorites include: Raven Trail, Three Lakes Trail, Man Made Hole, Ohmer Creek Trail. Plan a backpacking trip if you’re looking for some solitude, or book a cabin to use as your home base if you’d prefer a day hike.

Perfect your fishing techniques.
Try Blind River Rapids, which has salmon running up it, or make a day trip to any of the small lakes dotting the island to fish for trout. Dolly Varden trout and herring are plentiful in the harbor—and while you’re there, don’t forget to watch for sea lions from the docks. They are frequent visitors to the canneries, hoping for a scrap of fish.

Go berry picking.
Did you know there are almost 50 types of berries in Alaska? Berry picking is plentiful in Southeast Alaska, and for most types of berries is best in late July and August. Some of the varieties you’ll find include blueberries, huckleberries, salmonberries, and the elusive Nagoon berry, if you can find a local who will disclose their secret locations. If you don’t know your berries well, it’s best to pick up a book beforehand and learn what is and isn’t safe to eat — some berries, including all white-colored berries in Alaska, are poisonous. If you’re unsure, stick to you-pick farms and orchards, or ask a park ranger to look at your berry loot before consuming.

Stroll through town.
No trip to Petersburg is complete without a day spent browsing the local shops and restaurants in the historic downtown area. Here you’ll find a blend of fine art, souvenir items, and a taste of the town’s history. Make sure to bring home a handcrafted Alaskan item from a local artist and snap a picture of the local storefronts and homes featuring the Norwegian decorative painting style known as “rosmaling.”

Take to the seas.
Getting out on the water is a favorite summer activity of the locals! Book a sea kayaking trip or take to the open seas independently by renting boats or kayaks from one of the numerous rental companies. If you’re traveling with small children or are looking for a more relaxing way to enjoy the water, a cruise or marine charter is a great way to go whale watching and learn about the history of the area at a more leisurely pace.  

A look at Petersburg by resident photographer Carey Carmichael Case

Wild Iris Photography by Carey Carmichael Case – I’m based out of Petersburg, Alaska, the place I am lucky enough to call home.  I love the outdoors, living in southeast Alaska, and photography. Being able to combine the three to produce an image is magic to me.  I spend much of my time with my family – husband, two dogs, and my own wild Iris, my daughter who is 9 – out exploring this great place.

For additional images, or to contact me you can find Wild Iris Photography on Facebook.  

5 Things to do in Petersburg for Nature Lovers

Petersburg is a nature lover’s haven, full of activities for everyone from the tranquil nature observer to the thrill-seeking outdoor adventurer. While many of the most popular tourist activities are best in the summer, there are plenty of options for year-round outdoor fun as well.

Lacing up those hiking boots and taking to the trails is one of the best ways to get to know the Petersburg area. The Tongass National Forest offers over 700 miles of trails. You’ll find everything from quick jaunts around a pristine lake to multi-day backpacking trips along alpine trails. It’s a good idea to read up on your adventure before you go to get familiar with the area’s pests and learn what to pack for the time of year you are going and how to stay safe on the trails.

Whale Watching
The Frederick Sound passage is known to be one of the best places to see humpback whales in all of North America. In the summer, Petersburg is a major feeding ground for these whales. Booking a charter or cruise is the best way to get a good view of the whales while learning about their behaviors.

Glacier Viewing
Seeing a glacier up close is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Tours in the Petersburg area take viewers through Leconte Bay fjord to see the LeConte Glacier and take in the beauty of deep-blue icebergs. Some trips will even allow you to hike among some of the icebergs near the shore.

When the tide is right, a patient beachcomber will be rewarded with abundant treasures. Along with the usual beach finds like shells and bits of weathered glass, you might also find Tlingit petroglyphs, pieces from old wooden boats, and remnants of ancient fish traps. While you don’t need any special permits to go beachcombing, you will want to pick up a guide to know when the tide is right. Wear waterproof hiking boots or basic rubber boots and bring (or find) a walking stick for your journey. Make sure to pack insect repellent too.

Petersburg offers incredible opportunities for wildlife viewing. Over 240 bird species have been spotted in the area, including frequent eagle sightings. Birding excursions allow visitors to learn about all the many species of birds and how to spot them, or you can simply pick up a guidebook and find a quiet spot to observe on your own.  

Halloween 2015 with the Sons of Norway

Welcome to Fedrelandet #23 Sons of Norway! Its a spooky time of year — HALLOWEEN in Southeast Alaska. Everyone and anyone who has a little child on Mitkof Island pour into this old hall to partake in spooky festivities. Built in 1912 this hall can accommodate a lot of people within its walls. Weddings, funerals, dances, potlucks, even basket ball games (the hoop is still there) were once had in this historic building.

Halloween for the kids kicks off at 4:00 and ends just before the trick-or-treating begins amongst the houses. Hot dogs, candy, cookies, cupcakes and various other treats await the kids between games in the hall. Halloween in the hall ends with a costume contest and this year the judges picked their top 5 most favorite. Such a great community to live in!  

5 Best Things to do in Petersburg with Children

Petersburg has an abundance of activities ideal for the little ones, especially if you’re visiting in the warmer months (May through September). Pack lots of snacks and sunblock and be prepared to spend a lot of time in the sun — it won’t set until far past most children’s bedtimes. Check out this list of kid-friendly activities to make a great start to your family vacation in Petersburg.

Spend a Day at Sandy Beach Park
Not far from downtown Petersburg, this day-use area will keep the kids busy all day long. Start the afternoon with a picnic lunch, then leave time for playing on the beach or playground. There’s also a volleyball court and horseshoe pits. At low tide, you can explore the many different types of creatures on the beach, as well as Tlingit petroglyphs and remnants of old fish traps if the tide is low enough. You can also access two different trails from the park, including the one-hour City Creek Trail hike — perfect for spotting whales.

Visit the Petersburg Boat Harbor
The three harbors in Petersburg are home to hundreds of commercial and sport vessels, and kids will love watching the array of boats passing by. You can often catch a glimpse of sea lions from here. Older kids might like to try their hand at fishing — go jigging for herring, or cast for Dolly Varden trout or even salmon. The harbors are just outside the downtown area, making it a convenient stop.

Play at the Aquatic Center and Gym
Kids of all ages will love this indoor facility, which includes a lap pool, warm water pool, and a water slide, as well as a gym with open play time. Adults can hit the gym too — there is a basketball court, weight room, and courts to play squash/racquetball. If you’re not visiting Petersburg during the summer, this is a great way to make sure the kids still get enough swim time during their vacation.

Blind Slough Recreation Area
This is another perfect spot to pack a picnic lunch and make a day out of. Do some fishing, check out the bird viewing area, go for a swim, or hunt for frogs and tadpoles. In the spring, this is a great place to see baby fish.

Pitch a Tent at Green’s Camp
This gem of a campground is a fun place for a family camping trip. There is a giant hammock net in the trees to play on, and kids can go beachcombing nearby. The campsite is located at Mile post 27 on the Mitkof Highway.  

From “Little Norway” to Busy Fishing Hub: A Short History of Petersburg

Petersburg is a Southeast Alaska fishing community located on the northern tip of Mitkof Island, within the Tongass National Forest.

Over 1,000 years ago, before becoming an official town, Petersburg was inhabited by a group of native Alaskans known as the Tlingit. The Tlingit, native to the Pacific Northwest Coast, used the area for hunting and fishing long before European settlers arrived. Today, Alaska natives are still an important part of the culture in Petersburg.

In 1897, a Norwegian named Peter Buschmann discovered the area and would later became the town’s namesake. He and his family built the area’s first cannery, called the Icy Strait Packing Company cannery, along with a sawmill and a dock. The family’s homestead grew, and Petersburg was now mostly inhabited by Scandinavian immigrants, earning it the nickname “Little Norway.” The town was officially incorporated on April 20, 1910.

Petersburg quickly grew into one of Alaska’s major fishing communities. In 1916, Alaska’s first shrimp processor, Alaskan Glacier Seafoods, was founded, and in 1926 a cold storage plant was built. The original cannery is still in operation, and is now named Petersburg Fisheries.

The fishing industry is still central in Petersburg, and it has grown to become one of the major fishing ports in Alaska. Even the streets in downtown Petersburg are named after historic fishing vessels that came through the area. Over 3,000 people live in Petersburg year round, with 50,000 tourists visiting each year to take in the beauty of this busy fishing village.


Petersburg Alaska’s Oktoberfest Art Share 2014

Petersburg’s largest arts and crafts fair, featuring handmade items by artists and crafters from around the state. Food booths sell lunch throughout the day and there are bake sales, candy, jellies, jams and syrups for sale. Start shopping for Christmas early. One of the food booths was raising money in support of a clean water drinking program at the Ban Huaysomtai School, Phukradung, Loei, Thailand. 100% of the proceeds went to the installation of a new clean water drinking system. Currently there is none. The food cart raised close to four thousand dollars towards this movement. Lots of crafts were also for sale all made locally here in Southeast Alaska. Face painting, home made chocolates and jellies, as well as ornaments, stained glass and home made hand bags just to name a few. A very well attended event indeed!   

Halloween with the Sons of Norway

Halloween time again in the halls of Sons of Norway which is the oldest lodge in Alaska. Every year a Halloween party is thrown for all the children to come, participate in games and a costume contest and, of course, overindulge in candy! This building dates back to 1912 and has been kept up in such great shape throughout the years that hosting events like this are possible! To learn more about our lodge and see what’s new please visit:  

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