Hundreds of ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings) are found on Wrangell Island, but precisely who carved them or when is uncertain. They may date back more than 8,000 years. The best nearby carvings are only a 20-minute walk from Wrangell. To get there, turn left (north) from the ferry terminal and walk 0.7 miles to a small parking area on the left. A newly built boardwalk provides access to the beach, where you will find a dozen petroglyph rocks along upper parts of the beach, especially those on the right side, facing the water.
One of the best, a killer whale, lies on the edge of a grassy lawn to the right of the path. Most petroglyphs face seaward and are near the high-tide line. They may be covered by water if the tide is over 10 feet.
To protect the originals, the state has set up several stone reproductions of the petroglyphs along the boardwalk for those who want to make rubbings. Rubbings are made by placing rice paper—available in local stores—over the copies and rubbing the surface with crayons, ferns, or charcoal.
Other petroglyphs are in the Wrangell Museum and in front of the library. Do not make rubbings of the originals.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition