A favorite for many cruise-goers and tourists, Ketchikan, Alaska, is a charming city located near the state’s southeastern edge. A well-traveled fishing destination first used by Alaska natives, including the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian peoples, Ketchikan became an important commercial hub for international fishing operations in the nineteenth century. The city has embraced its nickname, “The Salmon Capital of the World,” and remains a popular site for commercial and sport fishing alike.
A plethora of totem poles, crafted by Native Alaskans, have been preserved by the city and comprise the largest collection of totem poles in Alaska. Visitors will spot totem poles while exploring the city’s waterfront and main streets, but most are housed in Saxman Village or the Totem Heritage Center. Shopping, culture, and history abound in downtown Ketchikan, where art galleries, seafood restaurants, and the historic Creek Street are merely a short walk away.
Nature lovers will delight in the abundant natural areas that surround the city. A quick boat ride or flight provides stunning views of the alluring and majestic beauty of the Misty Fjords National Monument. The nearby Tongass National Forest boasts spectacular wildlife, which can be seen on hikes through Eagle Creek and the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. Those who seek adventure can zip-line, snorkel, or go off-roading in an all-terrain vehicle, all amidst the natural splendor of Alaska’s lush forests. The possibilities in Ketchikan are endless!
Learn more about Ketchikan
Arrive to Ketchikan via air or sea. From Seattle it's a 90-minute flight, and from Juneau it's 50 minutes in the air. Upon arrival to this small community (under 14,000 people reside here), find a walkable downtown and a free shuttle bus network that takes visitors around the downtown loop (May - September). Taxis, municipal buses and rental cars are other ways to get around. Electric cart and bicycle rentals are also available.
Located south of Ketchikan on the South Tongass Highway, the Saxman Village Totem Park houses nearly thirty replicas of Native Alaskan totem poles. A popular spot for tourists, Saxman Village allows visitors to explore their outdoor museum of totem poles or pay for a guided tour of the grounds. Native artists work in the park’s carving shed, where visitors can watch carvers craft new totem poles by hand.
Mere steps from downtown Ketchikan, Creek Street was once the city’s red-light district. Now listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the boardwalk offers a multitude of shops, art houses, and restaurants in its line of restored wooden homes. Stop by the Tongass Historical Museum or the infamous Dolly’s House Museum to learn more about the area’s rich cultural and industrial history.
MISTY FJORDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Tourists have flocked to the famous glaciers and breathtaking views of the Misty Fjords National Monument, over two million acres of unspoiled natural land. Its icy peaks and swaths of green trees, sometimes shrouded in misty fogs, are only accessible by boat or flight.