Ketchikan, one of Alaska's most Southeastern cities, is the first stop for many cruises on their way to more Northern climes. A stay in Ketchikan itself can be rewarding, however, as the city is the gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument, an area so beautiful, it is known as «The Yosemite of the North.» With steep valleys formed by glaciers and lava flows left by volcanic activity, Misty Fjords offers gorgeous views of natural formations, all reflected in the calm waters of Pacific inlets.
You will not be bored in Ketchikan. With dozens of attractions designed to educate and/or entertain everyone from the history buff and the outdoor enthusiast to the naturalist or Native art lover, there aren’t enough days in a week to take them all in!
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Ketchikan boasts the largest collection of original 19th-century totem poles in the world. Be sure to spend some time at one of the 3 totem pole parks in the area—Totem Heritage Center, Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park—each brimming with majestic, multi-colored Tlingit and Haida totems amid a spectacular rural setting.
History buffs will want to trace the steps of the early setters with a stroll down Creek Street, a suspended boardwalk populated by colorful houses, once a hub for brothels, and now home to a variety of eclectic shops.
The unbridled beauty and sheer size of Misty Fjords National Monument in Tongass National Forest is a nature lover's paradise, providing all who enter with sweeping views of rugged mountain peaks, glaciers, rushing waterfalls, lakes and wondrous wildlife that defy description. Additionally, Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center, overlooking Ketchikan Creek, includes observation areas where you can glimpse spawning salmon and enjoy an up-close encounter with 2 bald eagles.
Learn about our lawless past
Our rich and entertaining history is chronicled in exhibits at the Tongass Historical Museum and at various locations throughout town. For example, along the banks of Ketchikan Creek, you’ll find a former “house of ill repute» that takes you back to the Creek’s days as a red light district where the “ladies of negotiable affection» entertained the miners, fishermen, handloggers, and other frisky frontiersmen.
See the world’s largest collection of totem poles
Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, including some of the oldest ones still in existence. The very oldest are in climate-controlled seclusion and some are in private collections, but you can see the majority of them scattered throughout town, at the Totem Heritage Center or at one of our beautiful totem parks.
Immerse yourself in history
Spend a few leisurely hours at the SE Alaska Discovery Center. Along with exhibits that highlight the commercial, cultural and recreational usage of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, the center features a comfortable movie theater that screens short films about Ketchikan and the Tongass National Forest.
Ketchikan's humble beginnings began when a salmon saltery was established in 1883. Then in 1885, 160 acres of land were purchased from local Native Americans and—a year later—the first salmon cannery was built at the mouth of the Ketchikan Creek. By 1900, the fishing trade was flourishing and the town was officially founded. Ketchikan, already successful from industrial fishing, soon branched out and became a valuable mining supply center due to the discovery of gold and copper in the region, followed by a flourishing logging industry that continued throughout the 20th century.