Your Ketchikan Alaska excursions are an essential part of your cruise vacation. This charming city has a lot to offer, and we’re here to help you make the most of your day ashore.
History of Ketchikan Alaska
Ketchikan boasts a rich history dating back to the Tlingit people who lived here long before the European explorers arrived. The city has undergone numerous transformations, from a fish salting station to a thriving salmon capital. The nostalgic scent of cedarwood from the city’s iconic totem poles is a testament to its vibrant Native American culture.
Amidst the verdant rainforests and pristine waters of Southeast Alaska, Ketchikan stands as a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of those who have called this coastal gem home. Once a gathering place for the indigenous Tlingit people, Ketchikan’s history weaves a captivating narrative that intertwines native traditions with the waves of newcomers seeking fortune and adventure.
The name “Ketchikan” is derived from the Tlingit term “Kichxaan,” meaning “thundering wings of an eagle.” The city name pays homage to the magnificent wildlife that inhabits the region.
The late 19th century saw an influx of prospectors during the gold rush era. Ketchikan emerged as a bustling fishing and logging town due to abundant resources. Salmon in the surrounding waters fueled the fishing industry’s growth, while towering forests were valuable to the timber trade. The historic Creek Street, a wooden boardwalk perched over Ketchikan Creek, is near the cruise port and a great starting point for your Ketchikan Alaska excursions.
Today, Ketchikan is a nature-loving community where echoes of the past harmonize with the modern world. Visitors explore this rich history through museums, guided tours, and interactions with locals who embody the pioneering spirit of the city.
Where is Ketchikan, Alaska
Ketchikan is perched on the southeasternmost edge of Alaska, adjacent to the Tongass National Forest. The city is surrounded by the lush wilderness, islands, and the deep blue waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage. This unique geographical location harbors an incredible variety of wildlife, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
Ketchikan, the city, offers a charming compactness that allows you to explore most of it on foot. Delight in the abundance of stores showcasing exquisite handcrafted arts, crafts, and jewelry. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the great hiking trails and embark on thrilling adventures. With a diverse range of outdoor sports and activities, Ketchikan promises an unforgettable experience for cruise ship port days.
Best Shore Excursions in Ketchikan Alaska
When it comes to Ketchikan Alaska excursions, the city has much to offer:
Misty Fjords National Monument Flightseeing Excursion
The Misty Fjords National Monument is a natural sanctuary of staggering beauty. This geological wonder spans over 2 million acres and is often called “The Yosemite of the North.” It showcases a dramatic landscape of deep fjords, towering granite cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. The combination of sea and mountainous terrain creates a unique environment with abundant wildlife, including whales, eagles, and black bears.
A trip to this majestic monument promises unforgettable views and a rich wildlife experience. A flightseeing tour is one of the most popular ways to explore the monument, offering a bird’s eye view of the stunning scenery. Whether you explore by air, sea, or on foot, the Misty Fjords National Monument is a highlight among the many Ketchikan Alaska excursions.
Totem Bight State Park
Visit Totem Bight State Park for education about the rich Native American culture and admire intricately carved totem poles. Ketchikan’s history also intertwines with the storied heritage of totem pole carving.
The Totem Heritage Center is a testament to this art form. The building houses a collection of intricately carved totem poles that are the storytellers of the past. The towering wood sculptures convey the history and beliefs of the indigenous peoples and preserve their legacy for future generations.
Creek Street is a fascinating historical site that beckons travelers to step back in time. Originally a red-light district during the Gold Rush era, Creek Street is now a tourist destination. Perched on stilts above Ketchikan Creek, wooden buildings exude an old-world charm, while informative plaques recount tales of brothels turned boutiques, illicit activities, and the resilient spirit of the local community.
Discover the intriguing tales of Ketchikan’s history as you wander along Creek Street’s wooden boardwalks, a journey that seamlessly melds the past with the present.
Salmon Fishing in Ketchikan, Alaska
Experience the thrill of salmon fishing! Ketchikan boasts a rich history intertwined with the legendary title of the “Salmon Capital of the World.” With a heritage steeped in Native Alaskan culture and early pioneering, Ketchikan’s prime location at the confluence of major salmon-bearing rivers has earned it this prestigious moniker.
From the days of Tlingit fishing camps to canneries that flourished during the 20th century, the town’s identity has been shaped by annual salmon runs. Today, as you explore Ketchikan’s vibrant waterfront and learn about its maritime heritage, you’re tracing the footsteps of a place deeply rooted in the rhythm of salmon life cycles.
Wildlife Viewing Excursions in Ketchikan Alaska
Embark on a wildlife viewing cruise to spot seals, eagles, and if luck permits, the majestic humpback whales. Cruise ship guests with a taste for adventure will set sail to witness the spectacle of nature as bald eagles soar majestically, black bears forage along the shoreline, and seals playfully dive in icy waters.
Expert naturalists guide these immersive experiences, offering insights into the region’s diverse ecosystems and captivating behaviors of its inhabitants. With the backdrop of pristine fjords and lush forests, you’ll have an unforgettable encounter with Alaska’s remarkable wildlife in its natural habitat.
Tips for Visiting the Cruise Ship Port of Ketchikan Alaska
If your Alaska cruise includes a visit to the port of Ketchikan, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Ketchikan excursions.
- Plan your excursion ahead of time. Popular tours can sell out quickly.
- Dress in layers because the weather in Skagway can be unpredictable.
- Don’t forget your rain gear when you leave the cruise ship.
- Explore the downtown area on foot. It’s easily walkable and holds numerous historic attractions and museums.
- Try the local cuisine. Skagway offers some delightful seafood delicacies.
- Don’t forget to carry your photo ID and cruise ship card, as you’ll need them for re-boarding.
With this guide, you’re well-equipped to make the most of your Ketchikan Alaska excursion day in port. Adventure awaits in the Last Frontier!