Ketchikan Alaska Travel
|Alaska ... the 49th State|
We love road trips all across America! But one of our favorite destinations, Ketchikan in Southeast Alaska, is not accessible by car, truck or SUV.
Ketchikan, Alaska, is located on Revillagigedo Island in the Alexander Archipelago, part of the southern portion of Alaska's Inside Passage (Southeast) region. The only way to travel to and from Ketchikan is by boat or plane. It is built on steep hillsides, with some structures built on pilings.
It is about 235 air miles south of the Alaska Capitol in Juneau and 700 miles northwest of Seattle.
Ketchikan was incorporated in 1900 and is named after the Ketchikan Creek streaming into town from the hills above. It is known as the First City of Alaska and the Gateway to Southeast Alaska, because it’s the first town on a northbound travel to Alaska.
Long a popular destination for travelers, Ketchikan is Alaska's second largest cruise port. Visitors enjoy fishing, wildlife viewing, outdoor recreation, thriving native culture and amazing scenery.
|Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska's 1st City ... The Salmon Capital of the World|
Ketchikan's impressive variety of shops and galleries feature work by many of the island's resident artists.
Major industries include commercial fishing (salmon, trout, cod, halibut and snapper), fish processing, tourism and timber.
The population of the City of Ketchikan is about 8,000 residents, making it the 5th most populated in the state. Including the city and the surrounding settlements to the north and south in the borough, the population of the area is over 13,000 people.
The Road System
The southernmost piece of Alaska Route 7 (AK-7) is known as the Tongass Highway, and travels both directions from Ketchikan. Heading north, the highway passes Peninsula Point, Ward Cove, Mud Bay, and Clover pass before ending at Settlers Cove State Recreation Site.
Within the city of Ketchikan, AK-7 signed as Tongass Avenue from the northern city limits at the airport ferry terminal to the Newtown neighborhood, then continuing south through downtown as Water, Front, Mill and Stedman streets.
It then becomes the South Tongass Highway after passing Coast Guard Base Ketchikan south of town. The highway continues southeast through Saxman and Rotary Beach to Mountain Point, where it curves to the northeast and ends near the George Inlet Cannery.
|Map showing the location of Ketchikan relative to other Alaska cities, parks and preserves|
Arriving in Ketchikan by Water
Ferries connect Ketchikan with the lower 48 states, Canada, and the rest of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Convenient connections are available to Metlakatla, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway with regular service to south central Alaska via Whittier. Ferries can accommodate vehicles of any shape or size, including SUVs, motorcycles, and kayaks.
The Inter-Island ferry service operates daily service to and from Prince of Wales Island. The terminal located in Hollis provides access to other communities via the Prince of Wales road system.
Visiting Ketchikan by Cruise Ship
|Cruise ships docked in Ketchikan|
Alaska is a premier cruise ship destination in the United States, with stops in destinations like Anchorage, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Hoonah and Ketchikan.
During May through September, cruise ships from Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Viking and other lines dock in downtown Ketchikan and provide a variety of shore excursions. The four Ketchikan berths can accommodate cruise ships of all sizes.
It is reported that in 2018 that 40 different cruise ships made more than 500 stops in Ketchikan, bringing more than 1,000,000 passengers to the city.
Passengers enjoy the area's waterways, wildlife and seafood, and ride zip lines, shop, learn about Native American culture, tour historic museums and kayak.
Flying to Ketchikan
Ketchikan is just 90 minutes by air from Seattle, with several flights daily operated by Alaska Airlines. Delta flies daily from Seattle, early June through early September.
Ketchikan International Airport (KTN) is located on Gravina Island, a five-minute ferry ride to downtown.
Once in Ketchikan, visitors can easily connect and contract with one of many air taxi services that fly out to area destinations, a neighboring community, or a flightseeing excursion to see the Misty Fjords National Monument.
Ketchikan is the 4th wettest place in the world, receiving over 160 inches of rain annually. It rains 300 days of the year, so come prepared! When visiting Ketchikan it’s best to dress in layers and expect any kind of weather.
Visit Ketchikan Soon!
We have visited Ketchikan and and have enjoyed the many sights and attractions in the city, and surrounding natural areas.
Spend a day, ideally many more, and enjoy and explore the beauty and attractions of the area!
|The harbor and downtown area of Ketchikan, Alaska|
Map of the Ketchikan Area in Alaska
Visitor Information Center
The Visitor Information Centers is located in the heart of downtown, at 131 Front Street, at Cruise Ship Berth 2, and in a seasonal satellite office on Berth 3. At the center visitors can pick up the Ketchikan Arrival Guide, walking tour maps, bus schedules and local business brochures.
For more information, maps and trip ideas, visit the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau: Visit-Ketchikan.com
|The harbor in downtown Ketchikan|
There is lots to see and do in downtown Ketchikan, and it is easily walkable.
Ketchikan is a small town, well maintained with good walking areas. You can explore the town on foot or take the free shuttle at the cruise pier that makes stops around town. If you are looking to take an excursion or venture far afield from the town, there are buses, taxis, boats and float planes that offer transport.
The arch downtown is well known and famous! The first Ketchikan Welcome Arch was erected in the early 1920s to welcome steamship visitors. An arch using neon lighting was put up by the Chamber of Commerce in the 1950s, and the current arch was erected by Historic Ketchikan lnc. in 1996.
The Ketchikan Historic Society produces a Free Ketchikan Walking Tour Map that lists a total of 64 points of interest in the Downtown & West End part of town.
Creek Street is built along the shores of Ketchikan Creek over the water because it was too difficult to blast away the rocky hills surrounding the creek
Salmon runs in the creek attracted Alaska Natives for centuries, and salmon still brave the falls in season.
Creek Street in Ketchikan
Brothels lined the creek from 1903 to 1953. Today, shops, restaurants, museums and galleries welcome visitors to a distinctive neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.
It is one of the most photographed scenes in Alaska!
Colorful structures on Creek Street
|The Stedman Bridge in Ketchikan, Alaska|
St. John's Episcopal Church
Built in 1902, St. John's is the oldest church building standing in Ketchikan.
The sanctuary, finished with cedar from a Saxman mill, stood on pilings along the water; fill moved the shore hundreds of feet back.
|Ketchikan at one of the cruise ship docks|
Ancient poles are preserved at Totem Heritage Center, a site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Poles stand in numbers in Saxman Native Village south of town, and in Totem Bight State Park and Potlatch Park to the north. Poles are also seen in many public areas throughout the community as well as at a few private residences where commissioned poles stand in view.
Ketchikan Duck Tour
This 90 minute tour that takes visitors through the rustic streets of Ketchikan, then splashes into the harbor for spectacular views of the city.
Tours start at the cruise docks downtown.
George Inlet Lodge
George Inlet Lodge rests on the shores of the spectacular George Inlet waterway. This picturesque lodge is accessible by road 15 miles south of Ketchikan.
The George Inlet Crab Feast is somewhat of a tradition for visitors to Ketchikan. The event consists of eating as much steaming hot Dungeness crab as you desire, starting with a homemade salad and ending with a delicious slice of cheesecake smothered in Alaskan blueberries. The meal is housed in the rustic and elegant George Inlet Lodge, which was once a cannery bunkhouse that was relocated from a location 90 miles away.
Located at 11728 S Tongass Hwy, Ketchikan, AK 99901. Phone: 907-225-6077
A number of tours are operated by Experience Alaska tours, including bus tours, boat tours, flightseeing and crab feasts!
|Welcome to George Inlet Lodge
The George Inlet Lodge
|Crab tour boat near Ketchikan
|Beautiful, live Dungeness Crab fresh from the waters near Ketchikan|
Crab fest dining at its best!
|It was an incredible crab meal!
Hiking in the Ketchikan wilderness
With its location between numerous waterways and mountains, the Ketchikan area is a perfect locale for hiking.
Two popular in-town hiking trails are the Deer Mountain Trail and the Rainbird Trail. The Deer Mountain Trail is 2.5 miles to the summit providing excellent vistas of the Ketchikan area.
The Ward Lake Trail and Perseverance Trail are in the Ward Lake Recreational Area, approximately 7 miles north of Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Road.
Lunch Creek Trail at Settlers Cove State Park is 18 miles north of town and quite literally at the end of the road.
Canoes and Kayaks
|Enjoy a canoe or kayak trip on the lakes around Ketchikan|
Canoe and kayak tours are popular activities in Ketchikan. Chose from those close to town, or further into wilderness areas.
Many companies create customized tours that let you learn about our history, seek out wildlife or experience local culture. Most provide safety equipment, waterproof jackets, dry bags and other items needed for your tour.
Killer whale watching is a popular tourist activity in Ketchikan. It is mostly done in brightly colored kayaks and canoes to keep the whales from confusing the vessels with a sea lion.
|Boating on a quiet day on the water near Ketchikan|
|Easy kayak tour down Creek Street in Ketchikan|
The Ketchikan area is a sport fishing haven due to the various species of salmon returning at different times throughout the year.
The town is known as the Salmon Capital of the World.
There are five species of salmon found in Ketchikan area waters: King (Chinook), silver (coho), pink (humpy), red (sockeye) and chum (dog or keta).
Salmon runs vary by species, but fishing is typically best June through September. Also available locally are halibut, rockfish (including red snapper), lingcod, steelhead as well as Dolly Varden, rainbow and brown trout.
Do-it-yourself saltwater fishers can rent boats and gear. Floatplane pilots take anglers to remote lakes, some with cabins. Professional guides offer expert advice for your trip. Some fishing spots are accessible from our road system; others are reached by floatplane or boat.
Orcas (otherwise known as killer whales), gray whales, humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals, Dall's porpoises and octopus are often seen on the water.
|Fishing the bountiful waters near Ketchikan|
Misty Fjords National Monument
|Misty Fjords in Winter|
Misty Fiords National Monument is a 2.3 million-acre preserve of glaciers, fjords and forested land known for whale watching and wildlife viewing.
The monument, lying just 22 miles east of Ketchikan, is a natural mosaic of sea cliffs, steep fjords and rock walls jutting 3,000 ft straight out of the ocean. It can be reached only by boat or float plane.
Taking its name from the almost constant precipitation characteristic of the area, the monument is covered with thick rainforests that grow on nearly vertical slopes from sea level to mountaintops.
Misty Fjords is the largest wilderness in Alaska's national forests and the second largest in the nation. The major waterway cutting through the monument, Behm Canal, is more than 100 miles long and extraordinary among natural canals for its length and depth.
|Misty Fjords National Monument|
|The majestic Golden Eagle
The Wildlife of Ketchikan
Wildlife including black bear, Sitka black tail deer, martin, mink, river otters, mountain goats and wolves are common to the area.
Close to 100 species of migratory birds travel through Ketchikan each year.
Bears are plentiful in the area
The best place to get a good glimpse of bears is at Neet’s bay, where you are almost guaranteed to see these majestic creatures. If you are a curious nature lover, then book a trip to this place and have a terrific time observing all types of bears go about their daily lives.
Dozens of residents live on area islands or in remote areas with no roads, and they use boats or float planes to commute to and from their homes to shop, go to work and school and take part in community events.
Float planes are called air taxis because they provide transportation to and from Ketchikan to outlying communities.
More Alaska Travel Destinations
More Attractions Around Ketchikan
Sunset in Ketchikan, Alaska
- Tongass National Forest
- Zipline and canopy adventures
- Flightseeing tours
- Dolly's House Museum
- Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
- Deer Mountain Trail
- Ketchikan Rainbird Trail
- Tongass Historical Museum
- Scanion Gallery
- Guard Island Lighthouse
- Rotary Beach
- Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
- Salmon Market
- Knudson Cove Marina
Hotel and Restaurant Options in Ketchikan
Ketchikan and islands provide a wide range of accommodations for relaxation after an exciting day. Select from full-service hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, fishing lodges and world-class resorts. Hostels are also available. Reduced rates in fall, winter and spring offer bargains in Alaskan adventures. Lodging sites vary from the historic heart of the city to secluded oceanside settings.
In Ketchikan there are more than 30 restaurants, featuring everything from our prized Alaska seafood and American fare to ethnic cuisine. Favorite local items include fresh king salmon, Dungeness crab, halibut, seafood chowders, oysters, clams as well as locally roasted and brewed coffee from one of our three coffee roasters.
|Float plane docked at one of the many scenic lakes near Ketchikan|
More Information and Resources about Ketchikan