Things to do in Ketchikan
Ketchikan is the fifth-most populous city in Alaska with a population of more than 14,000. Known as the Salmon Capital of the World, Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, 90 miles (140 km) north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and 235 miles (378 km) south of Juneau. This picturesque city has a total area of 5.9 square miles (15.3 km2). Its local economy is based on tourism and fishing.
The half a mile (800 m) wide Tongass Narrows channel separates Ketchikan from Gravina Island, where Ketchikan International Airport is located. The city is named after Ketchikan Creek. Ketchikan comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, which means “thundering wings of an eagle.”
Things to Do
Creek Street is a historic boardwalk perched on pilings along the banks of Ketchikan Creek near downtown Ketchikan. Creek Street was a significant red-light district until the passage of the Anti-Crib Laws in the early 1950s. It is now a quaint neighbourhood that provides visitors with an opportunity to tour Dolly’s House, view totem poles, shop at locally-owned stores and galleries, and enjoy local art and culture. Salmon gather by the thousands to spawn upstream in the summer months. During the heyday of Dolly Arthur, police raids on brothels were frequent on Creek Street. Men looking for a quick exit to avoid hefty fines for being caught at one of the brothels used the Married Man’s Trail for an escape route. The trail heads upward, winding through trees providing scenic views of Ketchikan and the harbour. Cape Fox Lodge is located at the top of Married Man’s Trail.
Great Alaskan Lumber Jack Show
The Great Alaskan Lumber Jack Show is promoted as one of the top 10 things to see in Alaska. This entertaining show features professional timber athletes competing in action packed events, such as the speed climb up a 60-foot pole, axe throwing, chopping, sawing and log rolling competition. Three to five shows are held daily from May to September.
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Ketchikan has an impressive array of art galleries and general merchandise and specialty stores. Authentic Alaskan native and contemporary art produced by artists who live in Ketchikan and the surrounding area is available. First Nations art includes glass work, hand-painted drums, jewelry, masks, paintings, prints, rare cedar-bark baskets, sculptures, and totem carvings. Shoppers can stock up on wild Alaskan salmon and seafood, cameras, locally roasted coffees, a diverse selection of apparel, accessories and curio items, and Alaskan themed toys. There is also a good selection of automotive and camping supply stores, grocery and liquor retailers, hardware, and sporting goods.
Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, found at three major locations: the City of Saxman, Totem Bight State Park and the Totem Heritage Center. Many of the totems are replicas of older poles that were carved during the Roosevelt Administration in the early 1900s.
Read more about totem poles in Ketchikan.
There are a wide variety of tours that can be taken in Ketchikan. Options range from fully guided tours aboard amphibious vehicles, buses, coaches, horse-drawn trolleys, streetcars, vans and taxis. Floatplane tours include bear watching expeditions, the Misty Fiords National Monument, freight and mail runs to outlying communities, and drop offs at recreational areas. Guided cruise tours visit local points of interest and provide an insider’s view of fishing, wildlife and marine life, and the Misty Fiords National Monument.