Renowned for its unspoiled natural beauty, fishing and colorful Native culture, Ketchikan was once known for mining due to the discovery of gold and copper, followed by a flourishing logging industry throughout the 20th century. Today it is billed as the "Salmon Capital of the World," due to an economy primarily based on fishing. The surrounding waters teem with 5 types of salmon, making it popular with fishermen.
Despite being only 12 blocks long, Ketchikan is the 5th largest city in the state. Major attractions include 3 totem pole parks celebrating tribes indigenous to the area (the largest collection of original 19th-century totem poles in the world) and shops for one-of-a-kind hand-carved items. Misty Fjords National Monument is a nature lover's paradise, plus, don't miss your chance to see world champion lumberjacks battling it out for bragging rights. Of course there is the magnificent wildlife with spawning salmon, black bears coming to feed or an up-close encounter with bald eagles.
Places to Explore
- Creek Street
Stroll back in time along a historic city boardwalk. The colorful houses are home to a museum, shops and a restaurant. During the summer months, a footbridge offers fantastic views of spawning salmon.
- Totem Heritage Center
This facility displays original salvaged totem poles from abandoned Tlingit and Haida villages, in addition to other Native Alaskan relics. Offering guided tours, the center includes totems over 100 years old.
- Totem Bight State Park
Overlooking the Tongass Narrows, this park is home to restored and re-carved 60-year old totem poles and a native tribal house.
- Saxman Totem Park
This picturesque park includes approximately 26 beautifully-sculpted, multi-colored totems, a tribal house to view authentic dance performances, a carving center, a culture hall and a gift shop.
- Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center
This hatchery boasts salmon by the thousands, and includes observation platforms to watch natural spawning. The center also features illuminating exhibits on native fishing and offers an up-close encounter with 2 magnificent nesting bald eagles.
- Misty Fjords National Monument
Escape to the awe-inspiring 2.2 million protected acres of Tongass National Forest. Only accessible by floatplane or boat, this masterpiece boasts towering mountaintops, rushing waterfalls, fjords, glaciers and lakes that have to be seen to be believed.
Adjacent to the dock or within walking distance, find items steeped in tradition. From jewelry and fur shops to unique paintings, sculptures and glassware plus seafood delicacies. Galleries sell totem carvings, masks, hand-painted drums, cedar bark baskets and jade carvings.
English is universally spoken.
U.S. currency is accepted, as are all major credit cards.
- How to Get Around
- Taxis are readily available and can easily be picked up at the dock.
- Buses operate hourly, 7 days a week and provide service on major streets and larger residential areas. Although subject to change, fares start at approximately $1 USD.
- Much of downtown can be easily explored on foot.