Things to Do in Ketchikan Alaska

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Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska – a charming city nestled in the southeastern part of the state. As we explore this captivating destination, we’ll delve into its location, weather, transportation options, top attractions, and the plethora of outdoor activities it has to offer.

From the natural beauty of Misty Fjords National Monument to the historical allure of Creek Street, Ketchikan boasts an array of experiences for travelers seeking adventure and exploration. Whether you’re drawn to fishing, kayaking, or hiking, Ketchikan’s outdoor activities are sure to captivate outdoor enthusiasts.

Join us as we uncover the wonders of Ketchikan and discover why it’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • Experience breathtaking views at Misty Fjords National Monument
  • Immerse yourself in nature at Tongass National Forest
  • Get a taste of history at Totem Bight State Historical Park
  • Where is Ketchikan Located?

    Where is Ketchikan Located? - Things to Do in Ketchikan Alaska

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    Ketchikan is a city located in the southeastern region of Alaska, known for its rich heritage and scenic beauty, nestled within the renowned Inside Passage.

    This picturesque city is positioned along the Tongass Narrows, surrounded by lush forests and majestic mountains. It serves as the gateway to the iconic Inside Passage, offering breathtaking views of its intricate network of fjords, bays, and islands.

    Ketchikan’s cultural significance is evident in its vibrant totem pole collection, as it is home to the largest collection of standing totem poles in the world. It’s also renowned for its thriving arts scene, featuring numerous galleries and studios showcasing the works of local artists.

    What is the Weather Like in Ketchikan?

    Ketchikan experiences a maritime climate characterized by mild temperatures, abundant rainfall, and moderate seasonal variations, making it conducive to lush vegetation and diverse ecosystems.

    The average annual temperature in Ketchikan hovers around 45°F, with winter lows rarely dipping below 30°F and summer highs peaking around 65°F. This consistent temperature range is influenced by the city’s proximity to the ocean and the surrounding waters’ warming effect. With an average annual precipitation of over 150 inches, Ketchikan stands as one of the wettest cities in Alaska, receiving a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. The region’s natural beauty owes much to this abundant precipitation, nourishing the lush rainforests and sustaining a rich array of flora and fauna.

    How to Get to Ketchikan?

    Traveling to Ketchikan is primarily facilitated through air, sea, and land routes, connecting visitors to this enchanting Alaskan destination with ease and convenience.

    Major airlines provide scheduled flights to Ketchikan International Airport, offering convenient access for air travelers. The city is a popular port of call for several cruise lines, with numerous cruise ships docking at the Ketchikan cruise ship dock, providing an unparalleled sea travel experience.

    For those preferring land travel, Ketchikan is accessible via roads and highways, making it feasible for visitors to explore the city and its surroundings by car or bus.

    By Air

    Accessing Ketchikan by air involves flying into the Ketchikan International Airport, which serves as a vital gateway for domestic and international travelers seeking to explore the wonders of Alaska’s southeastern frontier.

    Upon arrival at Ketchikan International Airport, travelers are greeted by modern facilities and amenities, ensuring a seamless transition into the heart of Alaska’s mesmerizing nature. The airport offers numerous flight connections, linking Ketchikan to major cities across the United States and beyond, making it an accessible destination for travelers from all corners of the globe. With its strategic location and well-designed infrastructure, Ketchikan International Airport plays a crucial role in enhancing the travel experience to this picturesque region.

    By Sea

    Journeying to Ketchikan by sea involves accessing the city through the renowned Alaska Marine Highway, offering scenic ferry routes that showcase the breathtaking beauty of the Inside Passage and its coastal splendor.

    As the southernmost city in Alaska, Ketchikan offers a gateway to the picturesque wonders of the Last Frontier. The Alaska Marine Highway provides an extraordinary maritime experience, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the natural grandeur of the region. Aboard the ferries, passengers are treated to panoramic views of lush forests, towering mountains, and pristine waters that encapsulate the timeless allure of Alaska’s coastal landscapes.

    The ferry services not only connect Ketchikan to neighboring communities but also create an opportunity for tourists to appreciate the unique charm and tranquility of coastal travel. Navigating through the Inside Passage, the journey unfolds like a captivating narrative, with frequent glimpses of diverse marine wildlife and awe-inspiring vistas.

    By Land

    Accessing Ketchikan by land involves road travel, with the city being a hub within the southeastern road network, offering access to neighboring towns and the natural wonders of the region.

    With its strategic location, Ketchikan serves as a vital node for accessing the extensive road networks that connect the city with other parts of Alaska. The famed Tongass Highway, a scenic route, seamlessly links Ketchikan with the Alaskan mainland, promising travelers an enchanting journey amidst breathtaking landscapes and rich wildlife. This road connectivity not only enables travel to Ketchikan but also provides a gateway to the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding areas, including access to renowned attractions such as Misty Fiords National Monument and the Tongass National Forest.

    Top Attractions in Ketchikan

    Ketchikan boasts a myriad of captivating attractions, including the awe-inspiring Tongass National Forest, the iconic Creek Street with its historical charm, and the spectacular Misty Fjords National Monument, all showcasing the city’s cultural heritage, natural splendor, and vibrant wildlife.

    As the largest national forest in the United States, the Tongass National Forest offers a breathtaking display of old-growth temperate rainforests, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. Visitors can immerse themselves in the serenity of nature through a variety of hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and scenic spots, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

    Meanwhile, Creek Street unfolds the captivating narrative of Ketchikan’s history, serving as a former red-light district turned vibrant shopping and dining enclave. This picturesque boardwalk nestled beside Ketchikan Creek exudes an undeniably charming aura, lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and eateries, making it a delightful destination for a leisurely stroll and a dose of local culture.

    The majestic Misty Fjords National Monument enchants visitors with its towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and pristine wilderness. Embarking on a scenic flight or boat tour reveals the grandeur of this natural wonder, where guests can marvel at the dramatic landscapes and spot diverse marine and bird species, creating an unforgettable experience immersed in awe-inspiring natural beauty.

    Misty Fjords National Monument

    Misty Fjords National Monument beckons visitors with its breathtaking landscapes, including the majestic Rudyerd Bay and the awe-inspiring New Eddystone Rock, offering remarkable opportunities for flightseeing and immersive encounters with nature’s grandeur.

    The incredible landscapes of Misty Fjords are characterized by dramatic cliffs rising thousands of feet from the water, glistening lakes, and cascading waterfalls. Vast expanses of temperate rainforest clothe the terrain, adding to the monument’s allure. The timeless beauty of the monument is further enhanced by the variety of wildlife that calls it home, from bald eagles soaring high above the fjords to black bears foraging in the lush greenery.

    Tongass National Forest

    Tongass National Forest stands as a sanctuary of biodiversity, offering diverse wildlife encounters, scenic hiking trails, and exceptional fishing opportunities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural splendor of the Alaskan wilderness.

    The Tongass National Forest spans a vast 16.7 million acres, making it the largest national forest in the United States. Its remarkable wildlife diversity includes iconic Alaskan species such as brown bears, bald eagles, and Pacific salmon. With over 1500 miles of hiking trails, visitors can explore ancient forest groves, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking coastal vistas. The forest’s extensive network of rivers and lakes provides some of the finest fishing experiences in the world, attracting anglers from far and wide.

    Creek Street

    Creek Street embodies the historical essence of Ketchikan, offering captivating historical tours, cultural insights, and an enchanting display of totem poles, creating a timeless ambiance that beckons visitors to delve into the city’s storied past.

    This charming boardwalk, nestled alongside the azure waters of Ketchikan Creek, has been a focal point for both locals and tourists, serving as a hub of commerce and culture since the early 1900s. The street’s colorful buildings, perched on stilts above the water, stand as a testament to the city’s rich history, once housing brothels and speakeasies during the era of the gold rush. Today, Creek Street is a vibrant center of arts and heritage, with its wooden walkways and historic buildings evoking a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.

    Totem Bight State Historical Park

    Totem Bight State Historical Park serves as a testament to the rich heritage of Alaska Native peoples, showcasing the mesmerizing artistry of Tlingit culture through its splendid totem poles and offering visitors a glimpse into the traditional craftsmanship and symbolism of these revered cultural artifacts.

    The park, nestled amidst the breathtaking scenery of the Inside Passage, presents a vibrant tapestry of indigenous artistry through its majestic totem poles, each intricately carved and adorned with symbolic representations of clan emblems, legendary creatures, and significant events in Tlingit history.

    As visitors wander through the park, they are enveloped by the palpable sense of connection to the land and the profound spiritual beliefs embedded within the totem poles, which stand as enduring testaments to the enduring traditions of Alaska Native cultures.

    Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

    The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary invites visitors to embark on an immersive adventure, featuring captivating wildlife encounters amidst the lush rainforest and insightful historical tours that unveil the region’s cultural and ecological tapestry.

    Visitors can witness the breathtaking sight of bald eagles soaring overhead, playful otters frolicking in the streams, and majestic bears foraging for salmon. The sanctuary offers guided nature walks providing an up-close look at the diverse flora and fauna, enriching the experience with fascinating insights into the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

    Adventure seekers can partake in thrilling activities such as ziplining through the canopy or kayaking along serene waterways, immersing themselves in the unparalleled beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.

    Outdoor Activities in Ketchikan

    Outdoor Activities in Ketchikan - Things to Do in Ketchikan Alaska

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    Ketchikan presents a plethora of exhilarating outdoor activities, including world-class fishing experiences, captivating kayak adventures, scenic hiking trails, immersive wildlife viewing, and thrilling ziplining expeditions, catering to outdoor enthusiasts with diverse interests and an appetite for adventure.

    The vibrant natural landscapes of Ketchikan set the perfect backdrop for these activities. Whether you’re reeling in the catch of the day on a chartered fishing excursion or paddling through the tranquil waters in search of marine life, there’s an experience here for everyone.

    Hikers can explore the lush rainforest trails while wildlife enthusiasts can spot bald eagles, bears, and seals in their natural habitat.

    Not to be missed are the adrenaline-pumping ziplining adventures that offer a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking scenery below.


    Fishing in Ketchikan is a world-renowned experience, with the city proudly bearing the moniker of ‘Salmon Capital of the World,’ offering exceptional fishing charters such as Baranof Fishing Excursions and Alaska King Fishing Charter to indulge anglers in exhilarating and bountiful fishing expeditions.

    The allure of fishing in Ketchikan lies in the opportunity to catch various species of salmon, including Chinook, Coho, and Pink salmon. With its pristine waters and diverse marine life, anglers can also target halibut, rockfish, and trout. The city’s fishing charters are reputed for their knowledgeable guides, well-equipped vessels, and picturesque fishing spots. These angling opportunities cater to both novice and experienced anglers, promising an unforgettable adventure amidst the stunning Alaskan wilderness.


    Kayaking in Ketchikan offers an exhilarating adventure, allowing enthusiasts to explore the scenic waterways, picturesque coastlines, and diverse ecosystems, with the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center serving as a hub for immersive kayaking excursions and insightful explorations.

    The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center provides access to an array of kayaking opportunities, catering to both beginners and experienced paddlers. Paddling through the tranquil waters, kayakers can marvel at the breathtaking coastal beauty, encounter wildlife such as seals, otters, and bald eagles, and witness the mesmerizing interplay of the lush forests and sparkling water.

    Guided tours led by knowledgeable experts from the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center offer a deeper understanding of the local ecosystems, cultural heritage, and natural history. Whether gliding through the serene fjords or venturing into the open ocean, kayaking in Ketchikan promises unforgettable experiences amidst the untamed natural splendor of Southeast Alaska.


    Hiking enthusiasts in Ketchikan can revel in the abundance of nature trails, scenic pathways, and captivating landscapes, with notable attractions such as the Lumberjack Show and the Stedman-Thomas Historic District offering unique hiking opportunities and historical insights.

    As hikers venture along the diverse trails, they are greeted by a stunning array of flora and fauna, from ancient cedar trees to vibrant wildflowers, creating a mesmerizing tapestry of natural beauty. Plus the natural allure, hikers can immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry of Ketchikan, evident in the historical significance of the Stedman-Thomas Historic District, which provides a compelling glimpse into the area’s past.

    The Lumberjack Show offers a unique blend of entertainment and education, showcasing the heritage of the region’s forestry industry and the remarkable skills of lumberjacks. The vibrant energy of the show and its connection to the local history make it an enticing destination for hikers keen on experiencing the multi-faceted essence of Ketchikan.

    Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife viewing in Ketchikan offers captivating encounters with the region’s diverse fauna, with opportunities provided by entities such as Alaska Catch and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, allowing visitors to witness the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Alaskan wilderness.

    The area is abundant with wildlife, including bald eagles soaring majestically overhead, black bears foraging along the forested trails, and playful sea otters frolicking in the tidal waters.

    Visitors can embark on guided tours led by knowledgeable naturalists who provide insights into the behavior and habitats of the wildlife, enhancing the educational aspect of the experience.

    Alaska Catch offers exclusive wildlife excursions that take visitors to prime viewing locations, while the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center organizes interpretive programs showcasing the ecological importance of the region’s diverse fauna, creating a meaningful connection between visitors and the environment.


    Ziplining enthusiasts can partake in exhilarating adventures in Ketchikan, with the enthralling ziplining experiences offered near the iconic Guard Island Lighthouse, providing breathtaking aerial perspectives and adrenaline-pumping thrills amidst the coastal splendor.

    The zipline courses in Ketchikan offer an unforgettable experience, allowing participants to soar through the lush forest canopy while marveling at the pristine beauty of Tongass National Forest and the surrounding coastal vistas. As adrenaline kicks in, you’ll find yourself immersed in the sheer excitement of gliding through the air, feeling the rush of wind against your face.

    This exhilarating activity is complemented by the captivating history of the Guard Island Lighthouse, creating a juxtaposition of thrilling adventure and rich maritime heritage. The views from the zipline offer a unique perspective of this historic landmark, adding an enriching cultural element to the already awe-inspiring aerial journey.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are some popular outdoor activities to do in Ketchikan Alaska?

    Ketchikan Alaska is known for its stunning natural beauty and offers an array of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, and whale watching.

    Are there any cultural experiences to be had in Ketchikan Alaska?

    Yes, there are many opportunities to learn about the rich history and culture of the indigenous Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes through traditional dance performances, totem pole carvings, and cultural tours.

    What is the best time of year to visit Ketchikan Alaska?

    The summer months (June-August) are the most popular for tourists as the weather is typically mild and there are more outdoor activities and events available. However, if you don’t mind the colder temperatures, visiting in the shoulder season (May and September) can offer a quieter and more affordable experience.

    What are some must-see attractions in Ketchikan Alaska?

    Some must-see attractions in Ketchikan include the Misty Fjords National Monument, Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.

    Is there a way to experience the local cuisine in Ketchikan Alaska?

    Yes, there are several restaurants that offer traditional Alaskan dishes such as fresh seafood, reindeer sausage, and wild berries. You can also try a local favorite – halibut fish and chips!

    Are there any family-friendly activities in Ketchikan Alaska?

    Absolutely! Families can enjoy activities such as ziplining, visiting the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, or taking a ride on the historic Ketchikan trolley. There are also many options for kid-friendly hikes and nature walks.