Petersburg, Alaska Employment and City Information
Petersburg offers an escape from the cruising crowds. The big ships don’t stop here, but the friendly locals are always ready to welcome tourists who veer from the traditional Inside Passage path.
While it isn’t a cruise port, the sea is still vital to the success of this coastal town located at the north end of Mitkof Island. Fishing is one of its key industries, so you can always count on the freshest Alaska salmon and halibut from the charming local restaurants.
With the waterways full of fish, a trip to Petersburg is also a great opportunity to drop a line yourself. You can fish at the shore’s edge or take out a rented skiff or charter boat to secure your catch. Hundreds of humpback whales feed in the waters of Frederick Sound during the summer. If you’re lucky you might spot them from the shoreline, but you’re more likely to have a close encounter on a whale watching tour.
Petersburg is proud of its past, and celebrates both its American and Norwegian roots. While native Kake Tlingit people have lived there for around two thousand years, Petersburg was officially settled by a Norwegian immigrant, Peter Buschmann, in the late 1890s. The enterprising Norwegian built a cannery, a dock, and a sawmill within his first decade in Petersburg, and his efforts encouraged many Scandinavian families to join him in making the town home. No wonder the region is now known as Little Norway! The region goes into party mode in May to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day, with four days of activities that upstage even the ones in Norway itself! Once the Mayfest excitement dies down Petersburg is ready to paint the town red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July.
These mid-year months typically enjoy sunny weather, with average highs of around 60°F during the summer. However Petersburg does experience high annual rainfalls, with around 110 inches on average, and those showers often hit with little warning. Stashing an umbrella and raincoat in your suitcase is the best way to deal with the often unpredictable weather. Rain is most common between October and December, when temperatures fall to average lows of 20°F. However it’s been known to drop to zero, so if you’re traveling around Christmas you should come prepared with a suitcase full of warm, winter clothes.
Petersburg’s island location sees it happily isolated from the rest of Alaska. This makes it an unspoiled natural paradise, with clean air and untouched natural wonders. One of the most beautiful is the Le Conte Glacier, which can be seen on a day cruise expedition or from the air in a floatplane or helicopter. The hiking trails in the Petersburg part of Tongass National Forest are also spectacular, with Stikine Icefield, Devil’s Thumb, Kuiu Island Wilderness making the walk more interesting.
That isolation makes a stay in Petersburg very affordable. Accommodation is generally less expensive than you’ll find in other Alaskan cities, whether you’re looking for a hostel, boutique bed and breakfast, or long-term vacation rental. The stores in downtown Petersburg also sell authentic Alaskan art and Scandinavian keepsakes, rather than the tacky souvenirs seen in Alaska’s more popular tourist centers. You may spend a little more on these goodies, but their quality helps to justify a little splurging!
Without any bridges between it and the mainland, the town is only accessible by air and sea. Ferries regularly take travelers to Petersburg from Bellingham in Washington and Prince Rupert in British Columbia. While the large cruise liners tend to bypass Petersburg, small cruise ships often dock at its terminal. Alaska Airlines flights from Wrangell and Juneau also makes layover stops in Petersburg on their way to Anchorage and Seattle.