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Ketchikan, Alaska Port Review
Ketchikan On Your Own Shore Excursion
By: Tom Ogg

Tom Ogg Ketchikan Port Reviews
Ketchikan, Alaska


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 layers.

Cruise Port Location and Information

Docked in Ketchikan Alaska
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

Ketchikan Shore Excursion and Port Review

Exploring Ketchikan on your own is very easy, as you are docked right in the very heart of things.

Ketchikan Alaska Visitor Information
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Shore Excursions
Tour Operators in the Visitor's Center

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 it.

Shopping Tips

Ketchikan Alaska Shopping
Ketchikan's Shopping (Taken From Ship)

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.

Tongass Trading Company Ketchikan Alaska
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Shopping area
Downtown Shopping From the Ship

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.

Katchikan Alaska Suvenir Shop
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Local Art Shop
There is Plenty of Products to Purchase

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 exist.

Ketchikan Alaska Creek Street
The Shops Lining Creek Street

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

Ketchikan Alaska Creek Street Shopping
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.

Port Highlights

Ketchikan Alaska Creek Street Shops
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 really is.

Ketchikan Alaska Misty Fjords Flightseeing
Misty Fjords National Monument

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 Ketchikan (http://www.SeawindAviation.com) 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.

Ketchikan alaska Ketchikan Creek
Ketchikan Creek

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.

Ketchikan Alaska Deer Creek Tribal Fish Hatchery and Eagle Center
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Deer Mountain Fish Hatchery and Eagle Center Eagle
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Totem Heritage Center
Totem Heritage Center

Nor would I recommend the adjoining Totem Heritage Center either. You can see just about everything by walking by it.

Ketchikan Alaska Deer Mountain Park
Deer Mountain Park

However, the 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.

Ketchikan Alaska Ketchikan Creek Salmon Run
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.

Katchikan Alaska Harbor
The View From the Creek Street Bridge

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.

Ketchikan Alaska Captains Hill
Captain's Hill

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.

Ketchikan Alaska Duck Tour

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 your family.

Ketchikan Alaska Horse and Carriage Tour
The Horse Drawn Tour of Ketchikan

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.

Ketchikan Alaska Totem Bight State Park
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour Ship
Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour Ship

The "Bering 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

Ketchikan Alaska Glacier Fjords Flightseeing Tour
The Glacier Fjords Flightseeing Tour

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, contact Seawind Aviation. It is a family operation and Steve is the best bush pilot in Alaska.

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 Suggestions

Ketchikan Alaska Burger Queen Restaurant
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 bar. Excellent!

Ketchikan Alaska Arctic Bar Deck
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 it.

Ketchikan Alaska Arctic Bar iEntrance
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.

Ketchikan Alaska Arctic Bar
The Interior of the Arctic Bar

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 Alaska.

Ketchikan Alaska Ravens Roost Bar
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!

Ketchikan Alaska Annabelles Restaurant
Annabelle's Restaurant

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 eatery. While many locals dine there, it offers an authentic Alaskan flavor in a rustic turn-of-the-century environment.

Ketchikan Alaska Annabelles Restaurant Interior
Annabelle's Bar and Restaurant

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

Ketchikan Alaska Misty Fjords Floatplane
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.

Reader Port Reviews
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Copyright 2012 Tom Ogg & Associates * All content and information is property of TOA