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  • Lindsey Markwood

All about Ketchikan, Alaska

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

Ketchikan is not just another cruise port with mountains and wildlife; it is a destination with a unique history, identity and charm. Consider Ketchikan as one of your port stops on your next Alaska cruise. Ketchikan is a small town in Southeast Alaska, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World” and the “First City” of Alaska. In this article, I will share with you some of the reasons why Ketchikan is a magical place to visit, a bit of background, and some of the best things to do and see while you are there. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, or inspiration, Ketchikan has something for all ages. Read on to find out more!

As the first stop for travelers heading north, Ketchikan is Alaska’s "First City". The city of Ketchikan is known as Alaska's first city since it is the first city people go to as they travel north. This beautiful city faces the inside passage and is under 700 miles north of Seattle. Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island ad thus, can only be accessed via air or boat/ship.

Close to the port is Creek Street. In July and August it is a great place to watch salmon swim upstream. Did you know this area used to be home to the “red light district” and is where you can find the Dolly House Museum? The Dolly House used to be a brothel. At the end of Creek Street is Married Man’s Trail. This short hike has pretty views. Make sure to bring a good pair of shoes – sneakers or hiking shoes.

Ketchikan is home to the Tongass National Forest, which is 17 million acres. Fun fact: it is the largest forest in the United States. While tourism is currently the greatest economic contributor to the Ketchikan, the lumber industry used to thrive here before it shut down. Tongass National Forest is a great place to see wildlife.

Misty Fjords National Monument is a great place to visit. You can get here by float plane or boat. Tip: Going by float plane allows beautiful views of glacier-created fjords while going by boat gives a better view of the wildlife and waterfalls. Here you may be able to spot a Black Bear, Brown Bear, eagle, harbor seal, humpback whale, marbled murrelet, mountain goat, pigeon guillemot, sitka black tailed deer, steller’s sea lion, and surf scoter. Pro tip: Look at the edge of the water for animals as they come down the mountains to feast on the fish. Bring your binoculars with you as well.

Totem pole in Ketchikan, Alaska
Chief Johnson Totem Pole

Did you know that Ketchikan has world's largest collection of totem poles? The totem poles are representative of the culture of the Tlingit. Each totem pole tells its own unique story. We highly suggest doing a tour/excursion during your Alaska cruise to learn a little bit of the history behind them. You can find totem poles in downtown, Totem Bight State Historic Park, Totem Heritage Center, and Whale Park.

Pro tip: When touring, be sure to pack a rain jacket for Ketchikan as it is one of the rainiest towns in North America.

Are you ready to visit Ketchikan on your next cruise to Alaska? We would love to help!

Picture of Travel Advisor, Lindsey Markwood on a cruise ship along with her email addres


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