22 Best Things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska

22 Best Things to do in Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan, Alaska is called the Salmon Capital of the world, it homes the world’s largest assortment of standing Totem Poles and it dubs itself Alaska’s First City. Ketchikan received its title as a result of it’s the first port of name for cruise ships in the state of Alaska as you Cruise North alongside the Inside Passage. There are loads of issues to do in Ketchikan and we’re going to spotlight just a few of its prime sights to allow you to determine what tour to take if you’re on a cruise, or what to see and do if you’re touring independently.

Top Things to Do in Ketchikan

Top Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska

We have visited Ketchikan 3 times and through our final journey, it was our final cease on our Alaskan Cruise with Holland America Lines. Our cruise ship, The Nieuw Amsterdam anchored steps away from downtown Ketchikan making for a simple tour of the city.

1. Black Bears Feeding on Salmon


Ketchikan is called the “Salmon Capital of the World,” and for a great cause. Visitors can go salmon fishing in the various rivers, streams, and lakes that encompass the city however when you really need to see one thing extraordinary, e book a tour to see black bears feeding on spawning salmon.

The finest time to see bears feeding in the streams is between July and September as they fatten up for his or her winter hibernation. This time of yr, the streams are stuffed with salmon making their method upstream to spawn and lay their eggs. Once their eggs are laid, they keep in the streams to die. This creates a feast for the black bears. You can e book this one in every of a form journey in advance right here.

Things to do in Ketchikan Black Bears Feeding

When we visited in August, the bears had been consuming a lot that they weren’t even consuming the total fish anymore, they had been merely biting into them for his or her eggs. As our information informed us, the eggs are like their dessert.

Before the tour, we took a guided stroll to be taught in regards to the bears. We noticed the place the bears sleep between feasts, and what they like to eat and we noticed just a few locations the place they’ve scratched and climbed up bushes.

It is actually a captivating tour with the star attraction being the 90 minutes on the hides the place we watched half a dozen bears hunt and work together in their pure habitat. Details right here.

2. Scenic Flight to Misty Fjords

Things to do in Ketchikan Scenic Flight Misty Fjords

During our journey to Neets Bay, we had been handled to a rare scenic flight. But you may e book stand-alone scenic flights in Ketchikan and we extremely suggest it. Ketchikan scenic flights take you over the forest and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. You’ll get a shocking view of Ketchikan and the encompassing islands from the air, together with the Tongass Narrows, Revillagigedo Island, and Gravina Island.

This 1 hour scenic flight takes you over sheer cliffs, waterfalls and the lakes of Misty Fjords. Window seat is assured which is a bonus. One of essentially the most breathtaking views is the Misty Fjords National Monument. This pure marvel has towering cliffs, pristine lakes, and luxurious forests.

Things to do in Ketchikan Misty Fjords National Monument

Ketchikan is situated in the Tongass National Forest which is the most important nationwide forest in the United States. It covers a lot of Southeast Alaska and from the air, you may see the huge expanse of this unbelievable wilderness.

We noticed waterfalls and we even noticed a bunch of sea lions basking on an island throughout our flight. It isn’t unusual to see whales from the seaplane. More particulars right here.

3. Self-Drive Zodiac Adventure

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Zodiac Adventure

One of the very best excursions we took in Ketchikan was the zodiac journey. We had been suited up with our rain gear and heat garments earlier than setting out on our personal self-drive journey. After a quick introduction, we adopted our information alongside the coast of Ketchikan by way of the Tongass Narrows in search of whales and bald eagles.

And we noticed each! As we made our method out to open water, we noticed a humpback whale breaching in the space. After watching in awe from our tiny vessels, we then set out nearer to the shore to see the abundance of bald eagles. We even noticed one dive for fish.

It was then extra time zipping by way of the water driving the wake of our chief taking in the websites. We even stopped to let a float airplane land earlier than persevering with on to dry land to take pleasure in smores by the campfire.

This tour really was a blast. It was pouring rain throughout our journey which made it much more enjoyable as we cruised by way of the well-known misty fjords of Ketchikan. Book the journey right here.

4. Bear Watching

Best Places to Visit in Alaska Bear Watching Neets Bay

Seeing bears in the wild is without doubt one of the most magical experiences. Alaska has the densest inhabitants of bears in the world, and locations the the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary and surrounding forests have a excessive focus of Black Bears.

This extremely rated tour provides black bear viewing with no need to get in a airplane. Visit the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary the place you’ll hike to an elevated boardwalk to watch bears from the security of the raised platforms.

You’ll additionally undergo the wetlands of Eagle Creek in search of bald eagles and different wildlife in the world. Book your tour right here.

5. Misty Fjords National Monument Cruise

Things to do in Ketchikan  Misty Fjords National Monument Cruise

While seeing the Misty Fjords National Monument from above is wonderful, probably the greatest methods to discover it’s on a ship tour. Book this non-public small group tour to cruise previous its glacial fjords, dramatic cliffs, and waterfalls. You’ll even be conserving an eye fixed out for sea lions, whales, bears, and mountain goats.

Places that you will notice are Rudyerd Bay, New Eddystone Rock, and Punchbowl Cove, and have a non-public commentary and tour as you cruise at your personal tempo. This 6 passenger bot cruise takes you by non-public constitution to see the cliffs, whales and wildlife of the Misty Fjords to see Rudyerd Bay, New Eddystone Rock, and Punchbowl Cove

6. Go Shopping on Creek Street

Things to do in Ketchikan Creek Street

We love historic Creek Street. It was pouring rain our first time in Ketchikan so we actually didn’t perceive simply how picturesque this elevated boardwalk operating alongside Ketchikan Creek is. That is till we lastly explored it on a sunny day.

Creek Street is stuffed with boutique buying, museums, and eating places. The boardwalk was as soon as the city’s crimson mild district and there are nonetheless indicators from the Gold Rush days of the Nineties.

The historic colourful buildings line the boardwalk alongside the water and look the identical as they did in the nineteenth century. Take your time to benefit from the views from Creek Street and maintain an eye fixed out for salmon spawning in Ketchikan Creek. We even noticed a sea lion swimming in the water.

7. Dolly’s House Museum

Things to do in Ketchikan Dolly's house museum

One of the buildings that basically stands out on Creek Street is Dolly’s House Museum. This museum is situated in the previous dwelling of Dolly Arthur, a well-known madam who ran a brothel on Creek Street throughout the early twentieth century. The museum provides a glimpse into the historical past of prostitution in Ketchikan and the lifetime of Dolly Arthur.

8. Salmon Ladder

Things to do in Ketchikan Salmon Ladder

If you see a crowd gathering whereas trying on the creek, likelihood is you’ve got come to Salmon Ladder. Creek Street is constructed over Ketchikan Creek, and throughout the summer season months, you may watch salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The creek has a ladder that enables the fish to bypass a waterfall and proceed upstream. So you will notice loads of them congregating proper right here.

9. Chief Johnston Totem Pole

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Chief Johnston Totem Pole

The Chief Johnson totem pole is without doubt one of the tallest totem poles in the world, standing at 55 toes tall, and is a distinguished landmark in the town. The totem pole was initially carved in the late nineteenth century by Tlingit artist Charlie Jones and stood in entrance of Chief Johnson’s home in Tongass.

You can’t miss seeing this work of ar, it stands on the entrance to historic Creek Street the place it has develop into a well-liked vacationer attraction and an emblem of the area’s Native American heritage. The totem pole options a lot of completely different figures, together with an eagle, a bear, and a human determine, every with its personal symbolic which means.

10. Visit the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

Ketchikan is stuffed with cultural and historic experiences and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is not any exception. The museum showcases the historical past and tradition of Alaska’s southeastern area by way of interactive reveals.

One of the reveals features a simulated rainforest, a reproduction Tlingit longhouse, and shows in regards to the area’s fishing and logging industries.

There can be a media heart the place guests can watch movies to be taught in regards to the historical past and tradition of Alaska and its Indigenous folks.

11. Tongass Historical Museum

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Tongass Historical Center

If you need to see some extra museums, or if it raining in Ketchikan (because it typically does), The Tongass Historical Museum reveals the city’s historical past and heritage. There is a free shuttle from the cruise ship port in the summer season making it excellent for a wet day.

12. Visit the Totem Heritage Center

Things to do in Ketchikan Totem Heritage Center

One factor you’ll discover throughout downtown Ketchikan are the totem poles. To be taught extra about them, the Totem Heritage Center is a should. The museum is devoted to preserving and showcasing the artwork and historical past of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Peoples.

But what attracts many individuals to the museum is its spectacular assortment of totem poles, a few of that are greater than 150 years outdated. You may even see conventional masks, carvings, and artwork in addition to reveals displaying the Indigenous tradition of the world that features conventional searching and fishing.

The museum provides a spread of instructional applications, together with workshops on conventional arts and crafts, guided excursions, and cultural performances.

The Indigenous People have inhabited the Ketchikan space for hundreds of years and visiting the Totem Heritage Center is a wonderful method to achieve a greater understanding of their tradition.

13. Take A Tour of the Salmon Hatchery

Things to do in Ketchikan Salmon Hatchery

We had three excursions in one whereas watching the bears feed because it passed off on the Neets Bay Salmon hatchery (And we had a beautiful scenic flight) If you may’t make the journey to Neets Bay, it’s your decision to take a tour of a salmon hatchery downtown.

The Deer Mountain Hatchery and Eagle Center is concentrated on breeding salmon and releasing them into the waterways. Visitors can take excursions to be taught in regards to the course of and the significance of sustainable fishing practices. The hatchery additionally has a viewing space the place guests can watch the salmon as they swim upstream to spawn.

10. Eagle Center

Things to do in Ketchikan  Eagle Center

Another standard attraction inside the heart is the Eagle Center which is dwelling to a number of rescued eagles which might be unable to survive in the wild due to harm or different components. The heart offers a protected and pure atmosphere for the eagles and permits guests to observe these majestic birds up shut.

The Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center is a vital cultural and academic heart in Ketchikan, offering guests with a singular alternative to study conventional indigenous practices and the native wildlife.

11. Tongass National Forest

Things to do in Ketchikan Tongass National Forest

The Tongass National Forest is the most important nationwide forest in the United States and covers over 17 million acres. When you go to Ketchikan, you may e book excursions to discover the forest’s huge wilderness and observe a various vary of wildlife, together with black bears, and bald eagles.

There are loads of mountaineering trails, tenting websites, and fishing spots inside the Tongass National Forest that provide a singular alternative to expertise the pure fantastic thing about Alaska. This electrical bike tour takes you thru the city’s highlights adopted by a trek by way of the wilderness. Book your tour right here

12. Wildlife Tour of Ketchikan

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Wildlife Tour

Ketchikan is understood for its plentiful wildlife, so taking a wildlife tour is without doubt one of the finest issues to do in Ketchikan. You received’t be hard-pressed to spot bald eagles, black bears, humpback whales, and sea lions. Visitors can take a wildlife tour, the place you may observe these animals in their pure habitat.

This whale and wildlife viewing journey is ideal for these with a short while and who need to see extra in much less time. The tour consists of whale and wildlife viewing boat journey that features snacks and non alcoholic drinks.

14. Saxam Native Village

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Saxam Native Village

The Saxman Native Village is a cultural heart is situated in the Saxman Village, which is a standard Tlingit group that has been inhabited for hundreds of years. The heart showcases cultural performances and demonstrations. the place guests can watch conventional Tlingit dances, hear to Tlingit music, and see demonstrations of Tlingit arts and crafts.

The Saxman Native Village is dwelling to the Saxman Totem Park, which options the most important assortment of totem poles in Alaska. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park to be taught in regards to the historical past and significance of the totem poles, in addition to the tradition and traditions of the Tlingit folks. The park additionally includes a reproduction Tlingit longhouse, the place guests can study conventional Tlingit life.

15. Totem Bight State Park

Another necessary place to go to in Ketchikan Alaska is Totem Bight State Park. The park is dwelling to over a dozen totem poles that had been both carved in the early 1900s or had been created in the Seventies as a part of a Works Progress Administration mission. Each totem pole has a singular story and which means, and there are informational indicators that present extra details about each.

The park provides guided excursions and also you’ll have the ability to watch cultural performances together with conventional dance and music. This Ketchikan 4 in 1 Tour will meet you at your ship dock to take you on a journey by way of the highlights of Ketchikan together with Creek Street, the Totem Parks, seek for sea creatures in tide swimming pools and a salmon hatchery.

18. Go kayaking

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Kayaking

We have performed loads of kayaking in Alaska and it is without doubt one of the finest excursions you may e book. Kayaking is a well-liked exercise in Ketchikan, because the city is surrounded by water. Visitors can lease a kayak and discover the various coves, bays, and inlets that make up Alaska’s shoreline however we propose taking an organized tour for security and to actually expertise the fantastic thing about the panorama.

Kayaking is a wonderful method to stand up shut to Alaska’s wildlife and to expertise the fantastic thing about the world’s surroundings we have now seen lots from a kayak in Alaska and Ketchikan is a wonderful place to have some encounters. You could have the chance see to quite a lot of wildlife, together with bald eagles, seals, sea otters, and even whales. Because you’re silently paddling by way of the water, possibilities of spying on wildlife are vastly elevated.

This kayaking tour really takes you off the crushed path. Take a excessive velocity boat to Orca Cove after which paddle by way of the islands and coastal coves following an skilled information. You’ll take pleasure in snacks in your boat journey again to city whereas conserving an eye fixed out for wildlife.

19. Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show

If you’re on the lookout for some enjoyable leisure in Ketchikan, take a look at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. This is a battle between Alaska and British Columbia that takes place at Ketchikan’s Lumberjack Sports Arena.

The lumberjacks compete in occasions that remember their logging heritage. Things to count on to see are lumberjacks operating throughout floating logs, chip and noticed wooden at lightning-fast speeds, an ax-throwing competitors, and extra. You’ll study lumberjack historical past and have a rip-roaring good time adopted by a meal that includes Dungeness crab. Book your tickets in advance right here.

20. Deadliest Catch Fisherman’s Tour

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Deadliest Catch Fishing Tour

One of the extra distinctive issues to do in Ketchikan is to head out on the ocean to get a really feel of what life is like for fishermen in Alaska. Hop aboard the Aleutian Ballad fishing boat to cruise the Inside Passage. Seasoned fishermen haul their catch on deck as share their experiences and lore of the ocean.

This tour is 2 journeys in one as you retain an aye out for wildlife like whales, sea lions, and eagles. If you’re a fan of the present on Discovery, you’ll love this tour. Get extra particulars right here.

21. Trolley Tour

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Trolly Tour

If you merely need an summary of the city of Ketchikan, a trolley tour is a superb possibility. The Totems, City & Wildlife by Cable Car Trolley takes you round in a San Francisco type trolley to see the Saxam Native Village and fish ladder. You could even spy bears, seals and a bald eagle ore two with a cease on the Herring Cove viewing space. Book your trolley tour right here.

22. The Rock

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska The Rock

Make certain to stroll alongside the waterfront of Ketchikan and maintain an eye fixed out for The Rock sculpture. The Rock is an exquisite piece of Alaskan artwork depicting the origins of Ketchikan City. It shows seven figures that characterize the individuals who helped to construct the town. Chief Johnson stands on the prime surrounded by a local drummer, a frontierswoman, a minor, fisherman and a logger. This is without doubt one of the prime stops for pictures.

About Ketchikan

All about Ketchikan Alaska

We love Ketchikan. From its plentiful wildlife to its wealthy historical past there’s something for everybody. If you’re looking to expertise Alaska or an Alascan cruise, be certain that to add Ketchikan to your checklist.

This small city in the southeastern a part of Alaska, recognized for its excessive focus of wildlife, totem poles, and its wealthy native tradition. With a inhabitants of roughly 8,000, Ketchikan provides guests a singular and unforgettable expertise with loads of thrilling actions and sights to discover.

There is not any denying that Ketchikan is a well-liked port of name for cruise ships, with a number of ships stopping in the town every day. Chances are you’ll be visiting Ketchikan by cruise ship. For us, every cease we made was by cruise ship, and whereas it took us just a few journeys to have the ability to expertise loads of Ketchikan Alaska, you may see lots in a short while.

Downtown Ketchikan Map

It is straightforward to discover downtown in simply a few hours when you don’t spend too lengthy in museums.

If you select a tour that mixes a scenic flight with wildlife viewing, you’ll have the ability to have two excursions in one. You’ll then have the remainder of the afternoon to discover downtown Ketchikan and the previous red-light district. You can most likely even pop into Dolly’s House Museum for a fast tour.

Cruise Ships in Ketchikan

Things to do in Ketchikan Alaska Cruise Ship Dock

We took a Holland American Cruise that included a cease in Ketchikan and it was excellent. Our ports of name on our cruise included Anchorage to Whittier, Juneau, Skagway and cruisin by way of the Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage and Vancouver. More particulars on our Yukon, Denali Land Tour with Holland America right here.

The Cruise ship dock is situated downtown and is only a brief stroll to the outdated crimson mild district of Creek Street. Even when you don’t e book a tour of Ketchikan, you’ll have the ability to expertise loads of this cool Alaskan Gold Rush city.

Have you been to Ketchikan? What is your favorite factor to do?

Read extra about journey to Alaska


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