Ketchikan, Alaska Port Review
Ketchikan On Your Own Shore Excursion
By: Tom Ogg
Ketchikan is a colorful little
city whose past is distinctly Alaskan. Fishing, prospecting,
bordellos and waterfront canneries make up Ketchikan's
wonderful and unique heritage. Located in the Tongass
National Forest, you can expect an average of over 7" of
rain each month through the summer months. It can also be quite cool,
even during the middle of summer, so be sure to dress in
Cruise Port Location and
Docked in Ketchikan
Ships dock right
in the downtown area of Ketchikan. One can literally walk
off the ship and into the main shopping area within two
minutes. Some ships may be required to tender should all of
the piers be taken and if you are tendering, be aware that
there will be long lines waiting for the last tenders. If it
is raining, you must have a strategy to avoid standing in
the rain. There is also a pier just north of town that is
used when there are a number of ships in port. This
particular pier requires about a 15 to 20 minute walk into
the downtown area.
Exploring On Your Own
Exploring Ketchikan on your
own is very easy, as you are docked right in the very heart
Ketchikan Visitor's Center
One can easily walk to all areas of Ketchikan and
there are several local tour operators located in the main
tourist office building right on the pier that sell optional
excursion should you want to book one.
Tour Operators in the
Again, avoid booking flightseeing trips in advance, as pilots will fly in weather
that you might not want to and you will lose your excursion
payment if it goes and you chose not to. Doing the Misty
Fjords National Park is a very memorable trip, but if it is
windy or there is limited visibility, you may wish not to do
Ketchikan's Shopping (Taken
Every store known to mankind
is located i Ketchikan's shopping district and if you didn't
fell the difference in temperature and the mountains in the
background, you would swear that you were in St. Thomas.
Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, Little
Switzerland and dozens of other jewelry stores are located
right in front of the ships.
The Tongass Trading Company
Be sure to visit the Tongass
Trading Company, a local outfitter with tons of Alaska
products and clothing. You can also find high quality
furs, local Indian art, knick knacks and a truck load of
other Alaskan items to purchase. You will also find many
Alaskan clothing shops.
Downtown Shopping From the
If you are a coffee drinker, be sure to visit to last
shop on the south side of the wooden pier for excellent
lattes and cappuccino.
Typical Ketchikan Shop
One of the mainstays of shopping in
Ketchikan is canned Salmon. There is a cannery right in town
where you can purchase everything salmon under the sun.
There is Plenty of Products
It is amazing just how many
products can line the shelves of some of the stores in
Ketchikan. If you can't find something here, it may not
The Shops Lining Creek
Back a few blocks (go east to
Stedman Street and then turn right) lies the entrance to
Creek Street where the Ketchikan Creek empties into the
Ketchikan Harbor. Creek
Creek Street Shopping
Street is a boardwalk street lined
with tourist shops and boutiques offering everything
imaginable. Once the bordello area of Ketchikan, Creek
Street's shopping is now the main attraction.
Creek Street Salmon Run
One of the highlights of
Ketchikan is the salmon run that occurs each year in the
late summer. Hundreds of thousands of salmon make their way
up the rapids of Ketchikan Creek. As one follows the creek
inland watching the salmon try to climb the falls time and
time again, one realizes how amazing the salmon's life
Misty Fjords National
Without question, Misty Fjords
National Monument is well worth your attention. This 2.3
million acre monument was carved by a glacier and it
extremely rugged. Cliffs plunge 1,000 to 3,000 feet into the
ocean blow and the effect is overwhelming. There are a
number of ways to see the monument, but my recommendation is
to take a float plane flightseeing tour with a lake landing.
I have used (and would recommend) Seawind Aviation in
as Steve is a 2nd generation bush pilot and knows Misty
Fjords like no one else. One can also take a cruise from
Ketchikan into Misty Fjords and back and there is also
kayaking tours available, as well.
About half way up Creek Street
there is a cable car that climbs to the top of the hill to a
restaurant and bar that serves excellent fish and chips. The
view from here is awesome and while there is a nominal
charge for riding the cable car, most folks feel it is well
worth it. There is also more shopping opportunities on top
of the hill, as well.
Deer Mountain Tribal Fish
Hatchery and EagleCenter
If you continue up to the top
of Creek Street you will hit Park Avenue. Turn right on Park
Avenue and follow Ketchikan Creek until you cross the next
bridge, you will then see the sign that leads you to the
Deer Mountain Tribal Fish Hatchery and Eagle Center and
adjoining totem pole park.
A Bald Eagle at the Deer
Mountain Fish Hatchery and Eagle Center
The fee to enter the hatchery
is $10.00 per person (2009) and it is of questionable value.
It is quite small and unless you have never had the salmon
hatchery process explained to you and are interested in
finding out about it, I would not recommend this experience.
Totem Heritage Center
would I recommend the adjoining Totem Heritage Center either. You
can see just about everything by walking by it.
Deer Mountain Park
public park that adjoins both of these sights is really cool
and worth seeing. The little creek that meanders throughout
the park is almost surreal.
Yes, Those Are All Salmon
If the salmon are running and
you have never caught one (or your kids haven't) you can
rent a fishing rod and reel at the hardware store just south
of the Creek Street bridge by the harbor and catch salmon
right off the bridge on the harbor side.
The View From the Creek
They are thick and
plentiful and you can catch a limit in just a few minutes.
Be sure to obtain a one-day fishing license before you start
fishing however. Since you cannot take the fish home with
you on the ship, I recommend catch and release.
Another fascinating walk is to
climb up the stairs (located right by the tunnel in town) to
Captain's Hill. This well preserved old section of Ketchikan
can be seen from the ship on the hillside on the north side
of town and marks the start of the wooden sidewalks that
lead to the older homes north off here. You can obtain a
walking map of the old section by visiting the Tourist
Center in Ketchikan. The walk is captivating and takes you
through much of Ketchikan's colorful history.
There are numerous local
sightseeing tours one can take. One of the favorites is the
Duck Tour that takes you both on land and sea throughout
Ketchikan. Lots of fun, especially if you have kids with
you. Another quite touristy thing to do that everyone enjoys
is the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. This show is located
tight in the heart of Ketchikan and when it is going on, you
can here the applause and laughter all over Ketchikan. If
you have children with you, this would be a "must do" for
The Horse Drawn Tour of
There are several way to tour Ketchikan including a street
car tour and this horse drawn tour.
If you like to fish, sport fishing is available for ocean
going species and also as a fly-in adventure to some of the
fresh water lakes
in Misty Fjords. This makes for a very memorable experience.
You can negotiate for a guide and all equipment to take you
into the wilderness for a day's fishing adventure that will
be most memorable.
Totem Bight State Park
Other attractions around
Ketchikan include Saxman Native Village and Totem Bight
State Park. Both of these attractions take place outside of
Ketchikan and capture the process of carving totem poles.
This would be especially interesting to someone concerned
with native culture and totem pole construction and meaning.
Of the two, many folks prefer the Totem Bight State Park
because there may be natives actually carving totem poles
during your visit. Be sure to read the special report on how
to do these sights On Your Own to not only save a bundle,
but see more too.
Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's
Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour" is one of the favorite
shore excursions offered by most ships, but you can also
book it directly if you choose to do so. If you are a
"Deadliest Catch" fan, this trip is for you. It has received
rave reviews from everyone that has taken it.
Off the Beaten Path
The Glacier Fjords
Use your imagination to
incorporate float planes and some of the most remote and
productive fishing in the world. You can reach remote
fishing grounds from Ketchikan and also immerse yourself in
some of the most productive fishing environments in the
world. For unique flightseeing tours and special trips,
Seawind Aviation. It is
a family operation and Steve is the best bush pilot in
If you want an
ecoadventure, try zip lining in Ketchikan. There are two
different zip line courses to choose from and they are
exhilarating to say the least. Click
HERE for more
information on zip lining. While your ship may offer it as a
shore excursion, you are much better off doing it on your
own simply to beat the crowds.
Dining & Drinking
Burger Queen Restaurant
Burger Queen: Without
question, Burger Queen is the best location for fish and
chips in Ketchikan, maybe all of Alaska. Off the beaten
tourist path and patronized primarily by locals, this spot
has terrific food. The best way to enjoy it is to grab an
Alaskan Amber at the Arctic Bar across the street and have
them order some halibut and chips for you to enjoy in the
The Arctic Bar
Arctic Bar: I love this
bar. Again, it is off the tourist path and is patronized by
locals, but for authentic Ketchikan color, you can't beat
The Front of the Arctic Bar
It opens early and stays open late. If you like fun bars
just follow the bear traks to the Arctic Bar. You will find
it just north of the downtown area just past the tunnel.
The Interior of the Arctic
The Arctic Bar comes with an
entire cast of characters that seem to hang out there. I
have seen one guy on every visit. I know that he doesn't
work there, but he helps where he can. This is the real
Ravens Roost Bar
Ravens Roost: Here is
another excellent and colorful local bar. On one visit, the
bar tender (a young attractive woman) treated us to an
exotic dance that she was going to perform for some party.
This place is great!
Annabelle's Restaurant: Located
along the main street on the north side of town, Anabelle's
is not so much a local restaurant as it is a classic Alaskan
many locals dine there, it offers an authentic Alaskan
flavor in a rustic turn-of-the-century environment.
Annabelle's Bar and
Be sure to order
their halibut and chips. While not as good as the Burger
Queen in town, they are still delicious.
“Must Do” List
Misty Fjords by Float Plane
Misty Fjords National Monument
is certainly a "must do". The best way to visit the monument
is by float plane and I would recommend
Seawind Aviation as the
best float plane operator in Ketchikan.
On Your Own Port Reviews
Reviews That Will
Show You How to Save Money and See More
How to Visit Totem Bight State Park
and Saxman Native Village On Your Own By Tom Ogg:
Want to save $138.00, have more fun and see more? Here
is exactly how to do it On Your Own.
(Please Click the Review you'd like to read)