Ketchikan / Alaska attractions


In 2023, there were 649 cruise ships in, according to the Ketchikan Visitor Bureau Ketchikan, Alaska's second-largest cruise port, reported. Over the course of the season, up to six ship calls can be expected almost every day. On some days even seven ships visit the small town, which has around 12.000 inhabitants. Up to 13.000 passengers are expected on such peak days.

Ketchikan - harbor area

Ketchikan - harbor area


Things to do in Ketchikan

The question rightly arises as to what so many people suddenly want to do in the tranquil county seat of Ketchikan. A large proportion of day guests will undoubtedly follow the tour offers of the shipping companies. Below is an excerpt from the excursion offers from the US Norwegian Cruise Line in 2017:

  • By boat to the Misty Fjords - 184 euros
  • Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour - 193 euros
  • Rainforest Island Adventure - 125 euros
  • By seaplane to the Misty Fjords - 244 euros (non-refundable in case of cancellation)
  • Lighthouse, totems & eagles - 100 euros
  • Ketchikan Highlights by Trolley - 49 euros
  • Bear Country & Wildlife Expedition - 193 euros

As is often the case, the range of guided excursions on offer is extensive and expensive. It's always cheaper: it makes sense and useful to do research before you start your trip. The Internet is ideal for research and booking individual activities.


Ketchikan Center



Ketchikan Visitors Bureau 


If you don't have time to do this before you start your trip, Ketchikan's Visitors Bureau can help. You can find it in the center in front of the jetty no. 2. In the professional facility, a variety of excursions and activities can be booked ad hoc and at the last minute. Maps and useful materials are also available for two self-guided tours of Ketchikan. Interesting circular tours lasting up to two hours lead e.g. B. through Ketchikan Downtown or through Ketchikan Newtown & West End.

Sculpture The Rock - you stand for Ketchikan


Ketchikan's main attractions

Regardless of which of the many offers visitors choose, some time should be planned for the city of Ketchikan. Our highlights are the following:

Creek Street National Historic District

The ensemble of houses on the narrow Ketchikan Creek was originally a place of residence for the Tlingit Indians. Alaska's natives fished on the river. At the end of the 19th century, the creek's water power was used for sawmills. The work made you thirsty; So it made sense to set up a few bars.

Creek St


Ketchikan owns up to its partly disreputable past. Creek Street, which seems so picturesque today with the impressive boardwalk, degenerated into a red light district in 1902. More than 30 establishments, some of which had a bad reputation, offered what the masters of creation longed for. It is no coincidence that the area around the creek was called the “Married Men's Trail”. With Prohibition at the beginning of the 1920s, so-called “speakeasies,” speakeasies that served illegal alcohol, emerged. At high tide, the establishments were supplied with liquor at night from rowing boats hidden under the boardwalk. The Star House was a dance hall and Ketchikan's only registered brothel.

Ketchikan-Creek Street National Historic District


Ketchikan-Creek Street National Historic District


Ketchikan-Creek Street


Ketchikan-Creek Street 


Ketchikan - Creek Street - Star House


Ketchikan - Creek Street - Star House


Ketchikan - Dolly's House


Ketchikan - Dolly's House 


Today, the approximately 300 meter long Creek Street no longer has any flaw. Rather, visitors enjoy the shops, cafés and “Dolly's House”. Dolly Arthur was the city's most famous “madame”. Dolly's House can be visited. There are antiques, secret storage facilities and flashy decor on display.

In the neighboring creek, masses of beautiful salmon swim and die after spawning. In this context, we learn that wild salmon live for five to six years and die after spawning. It's not a pretty sight, but it's great food for the seals lounging in the creek and the always hungry seagulls.

Full seal in Ketchikan Creek


Full seal in Ketchikan Creek


Seagulls in Ketchikan Creek


Seagulls in Ketchikan Creek 


Totem Heritage Center

With 33 exhibits, the municipal museum has one of the world's largest collections of unrestored totem poles from the 19th century. The collection was established in 1976 to preserve the memory of the totem culture of the Tlingit Indians. Sixteen totem poles are on permanent display.

Address Totem Heritage Center, 601 Deermount St; Admission price $ 5,00

Ketchikan - Totem Heritage Center


Ketchikan - Totem Heritage Center


Ketchikan - Totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center


Ketchikan - Totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center 


The Totem Heritage Center is adjoined by a small city park and a salmon farm run by a non-profit organization.

Walk on Ketchikan Creek

Rain, countless tributaries and melting snow ensure crystal clear and cold water all year round. In the river's gravel bed, the salmon spawn in the places where they were “born” years earlier.

 Walk on Ketchikan Creek

Walk on Ketchikan Creek


Tongass Historical Museum

Objects, documentation and photos document the development of the town of Ketchikan from a First Nations fishing camp to a temporary gold mining, fishing and sawmill location. The museum also explains the sale of Alaska to the USA in 1867. Alaska originally belonged to the Russian Empire.

Waterfront promenade

The walk begins at the pier at the Thomas Basin Recreational Boat Harbor and heads northwest past the Visitors Bureau and tiny Eagle Park to Tongass Avenue. Most of the path was designed as a boardwalk. The Casey Moran Harbor/City Float was home to the world's largest halibut fishing fleet in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Arctic Bar on the Waterfront Promenade

The right souvenir photo

A photo that has long been reminiscent of Ketchikan is the “Welcome Arch" on Mission Street. It leads from the cruise ship quays to the small Whale Park with the Chief Kyan totem pole on Dock Street. Behind it begins the Creek Street National Historic District.

Welcome to Alaska's First City

Welcome to Alaska's First City


St. John's Episcopal Church is another great photo opportunity. Ketchikan's oldest church was built in 1902.

St. John's Episcopal Church


Entertainment

A lot of fun with chopping wood, sawing, climbing demonstrations, balancing on floating tree trunks and, last but not least, music, the “Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show” offers it all.

Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show


Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show


Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show


Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show 


 Seasoned men perform the Alaskan version of the “funny wood chopper boy” in a closed and heated arena.

Location: At the level of the first pier for the cruise ships next to the sports boat harbor 

shopping

Anyone looking for the right souvenir will be tempted to buy one in many shops. Fishing accessories, useful everyday items such as rain capes, sweaters and hats, high-quality handicrafts from Indian artists as well as the usual tourist knick-knacks from Far Eastern production are on offer.

One of many retail stores


Finally, an extraordinary experience

Visit Misty Fjords National Monument by seaplane

Part of the surrounding Tongass National Forest is the huge nature reserve “Misty Fjords National Monument”. Deep fjords cut through the 600 to 900 meter high mountain landscape. Huge waterfalls cascade down from the mountains. The flora and fauna are almost uninfluenced by humans. Bears, wolves, moose and many other animals live in the Pacific rainforest. The rustic white mountain goats frolic on the mountain slopes, and every now and then the bald eagles, the heraldic animals of the USA, also make an appearance.

Bald eagle as a totem in Ketchikan's center


Misty Fjords National Monument is difficult to reach due to the lack of road connections. Visitors can only access the protected zone by boats, catamarans and seaplanes.

The Beaver in Misty Fjord


The cruise companies regularly offer excursions by tourist boat or seaplane. The aircraft equipped with floats are superior to boats. After all, they offer wonderful views of the mountain landscape from an altitude of around 1.000 meters.

The “flight adventure” is limited to less than two hours, after which there is still enough time for further excursions in Ketchikan. The bush pilots of several regional airlines primarily fly six-seat Beaver aircraft. About 30 minutes after takeoff, the pilots land in the 108-mile-long Behm Canal. The planes dock at a pontoon anchored in the fjord. The passengers leave their plane and gather on the pontoon. The silence that follows the flight is overwhelming. And if you are particularly lucky, like us, you will see a group of orca whales moving through the narrow fjord. After the time out, the pilot starts his plane again and flies back to the starting point in Ketchikan on a different route. At the end there is a certificate that commemorates the flight.

This is how the sea eagle sees the Tongass National Forest


 We flew with Taquan Air in September 2017 in ideal flying weather. The flight was booked online before the trip began. We paid $229 per person (212 euros) for the flight. In 2024 the flights will be offered for 389 US dollars, equivalent to 360 euros. If the flight was canceled due to weather, the advance payment would have been refunded. Norwegian Cruise Line charged 244 euros for a comparable flight with another company. Norwegian Cruise Line's terms and conditions state that if the flight is canceled, the fare will not be refunded.

Photos from the flight with the seaplane

Update February 2024

My Shore Excursions Ketchikan