Whether you are interested in fishing, culture, local artists, shopping or the great outdoors, Ketchikan, Alaska has some of the best experiences in store. The diverse culture and unique history are sure to leave you spellbound. And the best part is that whatever you do or engage in, you will always be surrounded by nature.
Known as the ‘First City’ of Alaska, there is so many exciting things you can do and places you can visit in this fascinating city. Here is our guide to help you fill your to-do list when in Ketchikan.
Take a Long Walk
Although cruise ships are the most desired avenue for excursions around Ketchikan, there is a certain flair to taking a walk around historic Ketchikan. Maps are readily available, and you can get yours from the Ketchikan Visitors Burea which is conveniently set up in 131 Front St.
If you want to indulge in self-walking tours, you can take the downtown walking tour which will take about two or more hours depending on how much you stop and click pictures.
This tour can easily cover the museums, parks, churches, and prominent places like Creek Street. It will begin from the Visitors Center and culminate at Casey Moran Harbor.
You can also opt for walks starting from Harbor View Park and along the enchanting waterfront. If you enjoy long walks, it will be very suitable for you as this tour can easily last at least two and a half hours, and you will cross businesses and historic homes along the way.
Many visitors enjoy the stroll around the city as it offers more flexibility, and you get a first-hand experience of Ketchikan.
Mystical totems and Tlingit Culture
Ketchikan is infamous for its numerous totems, and you will have the opportunity to see them getting carved or completed.
If you are intrigued by totems, you should visit the Totem Heritage Center, which is situated nearby the City Park. The Center preserves a catalog of totems Haida and Tlingit villages, most of which dates back to the 19th century.
You can also visit Saxman Village located three miles down of Ketchikan where you will find a majestic collection of totems, a splendid Cedar community house and you can also learn and immerse yourself in Tlingit culture through stories, dances, and songs. You will even notice numerous totem carvers at work, and you can also purchase native art as a souvenir.
North of Ketchikan, the Totem Bight Park is also an impressive location and is full of totems.
If you are enthusiastic about hiking, you will be pleased to know that Ketchikan has many trails and the Deer Mountain is iconic for hikers. The hike is two and a half mile long, and once you reach the summit, you will get a stunning view of Ketchikan.
You can also hike along the Rainbird Hiking Trail which begins above the third avenue bypass and is surrounded by lush green nature and stunning vistas. This trail will surely take your breath away.
The Ward Lake Trail offers a pleasant and easy walk along a scenic stream or the Perseverance Trail which will take you into the haunting rainforest. If you’re a true hiker, you will probably end up paying numerous visits to so many trail options in the city.
Misty Fiords (National Monument)
To visit the enchanting Misty Fiords, you will have to journey through a boat or seaplane, which is the only way you can reach this place. This park is stunning, with secluded bays and gigantic glacial cliffs. True to its name, the park is often misty and foggy, and its peak is covered by clouds, giving the entire area a mysterious ambiance.
The narrow Fiords makes it impossible for larger ships to cruise through, so you will have to rely on smaller tour boats, or you can even opt to view the Fiords from the sky. Small ships which set sail from Ketchikan provides a day in the park.
The Misty Fiords is truly a visual spectacle, and it will be a massive loss if you do not visit it while you are in Ketchikan. It might be challenging to get there, but this spectacular fiord is worth every bit of your effort.
For the art aficionado, Ketchikan has some interesting spots to offer. The Scanlon Gallery, which is the oldest in Alaska, is treasured for featuring and supporting local talents.
This iconic gallery was set up in 1971 and houses a massive catalog of original works in various genres like woodworks, photography, painting, fine art books, jewelry, ceramics, and sculptures. Whatever art inspires you, your passion will only be ignited in this gallery.
Not just that but the cute gift shop also houses a broad collection of books regarding the history of the artists that were born there. It also possesses a collection of quirky memorabilia which will make an excellent gift or souvenir.
Indulge In Water Activities
Alaska is known as a dream destination for outdoor activity lovers, and Ketchikan is no less. Fishing remains the most popular outdoor activity. During the summer, people flock for Salmon fishing, but you can also opt for halibut fishing. Local outfitters will help you with a guide and a boat.
You can also engage in kayaking, which is a beautiful and calm way to tour Southeast Alaska. Zip-lining has surged in popularity for tourists, and if you are interested, Ketchikan has areas for zip-line adventures as well.
Ketchikan is so diverse that everyone will find something that piques their interest. Whether you want to travel solo, as a couple, or with your family, this city is an excellent destination.
From art shops to beautiful mountains, and the mysterious Fiords, it is truly a captivating and magnificent city.
It is suitable for all types of travelers, but we must note that it is particularly seductive for adventure seekers and outdoor activity lovers. From hiking to kayaking, fishing, and even zip-lining, if you are an adventurous fellow, this city will serve up just the right dose of adrenaline rush.