Ketchikan is a popular cruise port in Alaska’s Inside Passage, which runs along the southeastern coast and is characterized by fjords, wooded islands, and snow-topped mountains. Despite being home to only 8,000 residents, there’s plenty to see and do in this quaint, adorable seaside town.
Ketchikan: An Overview
Ketchikan is famously known as the salmon capital of the world. Check out Creek Street for these guys and more. It’s historical, charming, and made up of colorful homes, unique shops and restaurants on pile-ons above the creek. Creek Street is Ketchikan’s old red-light district and in the 1920’s there were over 20 brothels on this stretch alone. Today, however, this charismatic section of town is where you can see the salmon running (July through September, peaking in August). You can watch the fish make their way up the creek to spawn. Ketchikan Creek and Falls, next to the library, is a prime viewing spot.
At Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery, you can learn about the salmon life cycle. Thousands of fish are tagged each year before they’re released into the surrounding waters. There are even little fish that you can watch and feed. For fishermen out there, there are plenty of professionals who can take you out fishing for an afternoon while you’re docked here.
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For animal enthusiasts, salmon is just the beginning. At the Eagle Center next door, you can see rescued birds up close, including rare species like turkey vultures, golden eagles and great-horned owls. More outdoor adventures can be found in Tongass National Forest, the largest in the United States with 17 million acres! Within Tongass, there are 19 designated wilderness areas, including Misty Fiords National Monument. It’s a glacier-carved landscape featuring rock walls, waterfalls, sea cliffs and fjords. It is home to a diverse array of wildlife including bald eagles, brown and black bears, wolves, mountain goats and sitka deer. Offshore you may be lucky enough to spot orca (killer) and humpback whales, sea lions, porpoises, seals, and otters.
For art and culture fans, you won’t be able to miss the Native American totem poles which are scattered and displayed all throughout town. In fact, there are more here than anywhere else in the world. At Saxman Native Village, just south of downtown, you’ll find a nice collection of authentic replicas, plus a replica clan house. You can also venture a little further out of town to Totem Bight State Park.
Fishing, hiking, kayaking, shopping and touring; all of it is possible in Ketchikan. Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve stepped into a dreamy Alaskan postcard.
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