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Which Is The Best Excursion In Ketchikan?


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Vanna Ragsdale



Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska’s Gateway City! Nestled among the lush green forests and surrounded by pristine waters, Ketchikan offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the Last Frontier. From breathtaking fjords to vibrant totem poles, there is no shortage of exciting excursions to embark on in this picturesque Alaskan town. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or adventure seeker, Ketchikan has something for everyone.


As you plan your visit to Ketchikan, you may be wondering which excursion to choose from the myriad of options available. To help you make the most of your time in this enchanting destination, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best excursions Ketchikan has to offer. From exploring Misty Fjords National Monument to immersing yourself in the Alaska Native Heritage Center, each excursion promises a unique and unforgettable experience.


So grab your camera, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we explore the best excursions in Ketchikan. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Ketchikan will leave you in awe with its stunning natural landscapes, fascinating history, and hospitable locals.


Misty Fjords National Monument

No trip to Ketchikan is complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Misty Fjords National Monument. This pristine wilderness area is a haven for nature enthusiasts and offers breathtaking views of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene fjords. Embark on a scenic flight or boat tour to immerse yourself in the grandeur of Misty Fjords.


As you soar above the majestic fjords, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of rugged mountains, deep valleys, and glacially-carved landscapes. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bears, eagles, and seals that call this region home. The experience is truly unforgettable, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture stunning photographs of this natural wonder.


If you prefer to explore Misty Fjords from the water, consider taking a guided boat tour. Cruise through the tranquil waters as your knowledgeable guide shares fascinating insights about the geology and ecology of the area. Delight in the sight of waterfalls cascading down sheer cliffs and be amazed by the sheer immensity of the fjords.


For those looking for a more adventurous experience, kayaking through the mist-shrouded fjords is an excellent option. Paddle at your own pace, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings and getting up close to the natural wonders that Misty Fjords has to offer. Keep an eye out for seals and porpoises that may swim alongside your kayak.


Whether you choose to explore Misty Fjords by air, water, or kayak, the experience is sure to leave you in awe of the raw beauty and grandeur of this Alaskan gem. Don’t forget to pack your camera, as you’ll want to capture the breathtaking landscapes that unfold before your eyes.


As you embark on your excursion to Misty Fjords, be sure to dress in layers and bring rain gear, as the weather in this region can change quickly. Remember to respect the natural environment and follow the guidelines set by your tour operator to ensure the preservation of this pristine wilderness.


Totem Bight State Historical Park

Immerse yourself in the rich Native American heritage of Alaska at Totem Bight State Historical Park. Located just a short drive from downtown Ketchikan, this park is home to an impressive collection of intricately carved totem poles and offers a glimpse into the unique culture and history of the indigenous peoples of the region.


As you enter Totem Bight State Historical Park, you’ll be greeted by towering totem poles that stand as silent storytellers, each with its own symbolic significance and meaning. Take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails that wind through the park, allowing you to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of these iconic structures up close. Visitors of all ages will be captivated by the intricate carvings and vibrant colors that adorn each totem pole.


Throughout the park, informative signage provides insights into the stories and legends behind the totem poles, offering a deeper understanding of the cultural significance they hold. You’ll learn about the traditional beliefs, rituals, and customs of Alaska Native communities, and gain a greater appreciation for their close relationship with nature and the spiritual world.


One of the highlights of Totem Bight State Historical Park is the Clan House replica. Step inside this traditional longhouse and imagine what life was like for the indigenous people who once called this area home. Admire the intricately carved interior beams and experience a sense of the communal living that was central to Native American culture.


For a truly immersive experience, consider joining a guided tour led by knowledgeable park rangers. They will share fascinating stories and provide in-depth historical and cultural information about the totem poles and the indigenous peoples of Alaska.


Aside from the totem poles, the park also features stunning coastal views, picnic areas, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring through the sky or harbor seals basking on nearby rocks.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply curious about the rich heritage of Alaska’s Native American communities, Totem Bight State Historical Park is a must-visit destination in Ketchikan. Immerse yourself in the fascinating stories and artistic expressions that these totem poles represent, and gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural diversity and resilience of the indigenous peoples of Alaska.


Tongass National Forest

Step into the largest national forest in the United States and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Tongass National Forest. Covering a vast area of over 16.7 million acres, this pristine wilderness is home to towering old-growth trees, crystal-clear lakes, majestic mountains, and a diverse array of wildlife. Just a short distance from Ketchikan, Tongass National Forest offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration.


Embark on a scenic hike along one of the many trails that wind through the forest, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and red and yellow cedar trees. The verdant mosses and ferns underfoot create an enchanting atmosphere, and the air is filled with the fresh scent of the forest.


As you explore Tongass National Forest, keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife that calls this area home. Bald eagles soar overhead, deer graze peacefully in meadows, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a black bear or a playful river otter. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the variety of avian species that inhabit this diverse ecosystem, including Pacific wrens, thrushes, and warblers.


For those seeking aquatic adventures, Tongass National Forest is a paradise. Kayak through tranquil fjords, paddle along pristine rivers, or try your hand at fishing for salmon or trout in one of the forest’s many streams. The forest offers a wide range of fishing opportunities, from fly fishing in remote mountain lakes to casting a line in coastal waters.


To enhance your experience in Tongass National Forest, consider joining a guided tour led by experienced naturalists who can provide in-depth knowledge about the flora, fauna, and history of the region. From bear viewing tours to glacier exploration, there are options for every interest and adventure level.


Whether you choose to hike, kayak, fish, or simply soak in the natural beauty, a visit to Tongass National Forest is a must-do when in Ketchikan. Lose yourself in the serenity of nature, marvel at the grandeur of old-growth forests, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this remarkable wilderness.


Creek Street

Step back in time and experience the historic charm of Creek Street, a unique waterfront boardwalk in Ketchikan. Known as the former red-light district of the city, Creek Street is now a vibrant cultural hub filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and fascinating museums.


Perched on stilts above Ketchikan Creek, Creek Street offers a picturesque setting with its colorful buildings and scenic views. As you stroll along the boardwalk, you’ll be immersed in the rich history and lively atmosphere of this iconic destination. Take the time to admire the beautifully preserved architecture that harks back to the town’s early days as a bustling fishing and logging community.


Explore the many specialty shops that line Creek Street, offering a wide range of unique Alaskan-made goods and souvenirs. From indigenous artwork and handcrafted jewelry to locally-smoked salmon and authentic Native American crafts, there’s something for everyone to discover and take home as a cherished memento.


Stop by the various art galleries along Creek Street to admire the works of talented local artists. From traditional Native American carvings to contemporary paintings inspired by the rugged beauty of Alaska, you’ll find a diverse array of artistic expressions that capture the spirit of this captivating destination.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to Dolly’s House Museum is a must. This infamous establishment was once a brothel, and the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the intriguing past of Creek Street. Explore the rooms adorned with period furnishings and learn about the colorful characters who inhabited this part of town during its heyday.


As you wander along Creek Street, keep an eye out for salmon swimming in the creek below. During the summer months, thousands of salmon make their way upstream, providing a captivating wildlife spectacle.


Before leaving Creek Street, indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the waterfront restaurants. Feast on Alaskan king crab, mouthwatering salmon dishes, or local delicacies like halibut cheeks, all while enjoying the serene views of Ketchikan Creek. Don’t forget to try a refreshing Alaskan craft beer or a glass of locally made spirits to complement your meal.


Creek Street is a place where history, art, commerce, and natural beauty converge. Whether you’re exploring the shops, admiring the artwork, or simply taking in the atmosphere, a visit to this iconic Ketchikan destination is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a true sense of the town’s unique character.


Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

Discover the untouched beauty of the Alaskan rainforest at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. This protected area, located just a short drive from Ketchikan, is a haven for nature lovers and offers a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems that thrive in this pristine wilderness.


Embark on a guided tour through the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary and let experienced naturalists lead you on a journey of exploration and discovery. As you walk along the well-maintained trails, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees, lush vegetation, and the soothing sounds of birdsong. Learn about the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving these ancient forests.


Keep your eyes peeled for the myriad of wildlife that call the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary home. Majestic bald eagles soar overhead, while black bears forage for food among the dense undergrowth. Watch for Sitka black-tailed deer as they gracefully navigate their way through the forest, and listen for the distinctive calls of forest-dwelling birds.


One of the highlights of the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary is the opportunity to observe and learn about the incredible salmon lifecycle. Visit a spawning stream and witness the awe-inspiring sight of salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs. Listen as your guide shares fascinating facts about the salmon’s journey and the vital role they play in the ecosystem.


Experience the tranquility of the pristine Tongass National Forest from the comfort of a covered viewing area. Take a moment to breathe in the fresh forest air, marvel at the sheer size of the trees, and feel a sense of connection with the natural world around you.


For those interested in learning more about the cultural heritage of the region, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a replica of a traditional Native American clan house. Step inside and immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant traditions of the indigenous peoples of Alaska.


Before you leave, make sure to stop by the gift shop at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. Browse through a curated selection of locally made crafts, unique souvenirs, and educational materials. By supporting local artisans, you’ll be helping to preserve the cultural heritage of the region.


A visit to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary allows you to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty and ecological importance of the Alaskan rainforest. It’s a place where you can disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with the natural world in a meaningful and sustainable way.


Alaska Native Heritage Center

Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures and rich traditions of Alaska’s indigenous peoples at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This unique cultural institution, located in Anchorage, offers visitors a captivating journey through the history, art, music, and dance of the state’s Native American communities.


As you step into the Alaska Native Heritage Center, you’ll be greeted by magnificent examples of traditional Native architecture, including the representative dwelling structures of several Alaska Native groups. Each structure showcases the distinctive craftsmanship and design elements that reflect the diversity of these communities.


Take part in interactive demonstrations led by knowledgeable interpreters who provide insights into traditional practices and art forms. You can try your hand at beadwork, basket weaving, or carving, gaining a deeper appreciation for the skills passed down through generations.


One of the highlights of the Alaska Native Heritage Center is the Native Dance Performance, where talented artists share their traditional songs and dances. Marvel at the intricate movements, adorned regalia, and rhythmic beats that breathe life into cultural expressions that have been passed down for centuries.


Step into the Hall of Cultures, a fascinating exhibition space that showcases artifacts, photographs, and multimedia presentations highlighting the rich history and ongoing contributions of Alaska’s Native peoples. Learn about their resilience, adaptability, and deep connection to the land and water that surround them.


For a more immersive experience, join a guided tour of the outdoor village sites. Visit authentic replicas of Native dwellings, each representing a different region and providing insights into the unique lifestyles and practices of Alaska’s Native communities.


The Alaska Native Heritage Center also offers workshops, classes, and special events throughout the year, presenting opportunities to learn traditional storytelling, cooking techniques, and other cultural practices. It’s a chance to engage directly with Alaska Native artisans and elders and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.


Before you leave, be sure to visit the gift shop, where you can find a carefully curated selection of authentic Native arts and crafts. From intricately carved totem poles to beautifully woven baskets and stunning jewelry, these unique pieces make for meaningful souvenirs that support indigenous artists and their communities.


A visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center is an enriching and educational experience that celebrates the vibrant cultures and enduring legacies of Alaska’s Native peoples. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the deep-rooted traditions and contributions of these diverse communities while fostering cultural understanding and respect.


Ketchikan Wildlife Tour

Embark on a thrilling wildlife adventure with a Ketchikan wildlife tour and get up close and personal with the incredible animals that call this pristine Alaskan region home. From majestic whales to playful sea lions and soaring eagles, the waters around Ketchikan are teeming with diverse wildlife waiting to be discovered.


Join a guided boat tour or charter a private vessel, and set sail along the rugged coastline in search of wildlife encounters. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales breaching the surface, their magnificent tails visible as they dive deep beneath the waves. Witnessing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a truly awe-inspiring experience you won’t soon forget.


As you cruise through the calm waters, you might spot playful sea otters floating on their backs, cracking open shells with rocks as they feast on their favorite delicacies. Marvel at their dexterity and adorable antics, as they frolic in the sea and groom their thick fur.


Alaska is known as the “Eagle Capital of the World,” and a wildlife tour is an excellent opportunity to witness these majestic birds in their element. Keep your camera ready as bald eagles soar gracefully through the sky, their sharp eyes scanning the water below for fish to snatch up with their powerful talons.


Be on the lookout for harbor seals basking on rocky outcrops, their sleek bodies glistening in the sunlight. These curious creatures may approach the boat, providing a chance to observe them from a close distance and capture stunning photographs.


A knowledgeable guide will accompany you on the wildlife tour, sharing interesting facts about the local ecosystem and the behaviors of the animals you encounter. They will provide invaluable insights and ensure that you have the best chance of spotting the diverse array of wildlife that inhabits the waters around Ketchikan.


Remember to dress in warm layers and bring a pair of binoculars to enhance your wildlife viewing experience. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to have rain gear on hand. Additionally, the tour operators prioritize responsible wildlife viewing practices to ensure minimal disruption to the animals and their natural habitats.


A Ketchikan wildlife tour is an incredible opportunity to witness the magnificence of Alaska’s wildlife up close and personal. Whether you’re a seasoned nature enthusiast or just beginning your wildlife exploration journey, this thrilling adventure will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.


Crabbing Adventure

For seafood lovers and adventure seekers alike, a crabbing adventure in Ketchikan is an experience not to be missed. Known as the “King Crab Capital of the World,” Ketchikan offers the perfect opportunity to try your hand at catching these prized crustaceans and indulge in a fresh and delicious feast.


Step aboard a specialized crabbing vessel and set out on a thrilling excursion into the waters around Ketchikan. Learn the techniques and secrets of successful crabbing from experienced local guides, who will provide all the necessary equipment and gear for an unforgettable adventure.


As you cruise along the rugged coastline, drop the crab pots deep into the ocean, each baited with tantalizing treats that attract the magnificent Alaskan king crabs. The anticipation builds as you slowly reel in the pots, wondering what surprises await inside.


Once the pots are hauled up onto the deck, get ready for an up-close encounter with these impressive creatures. Your experienced guides will teach you how to handle the crabs safely and properly, ensuring that you have a memorable and educational experience.


Feel the weight of the mighty king crabs in your hands as you measure them to ensure they meet the legal size requirements. Learn about their life cycle, habitat, and the sustainable fishing practices that help protect the future of these iconic creatures.


Back on shore, the adventure continues as you savor the fruits of your labor. Feast on the freshly caught and cooked crab, succulent and filled with the flavors of the sea. Whether you prefer it boiled, steamed, or transformed into delectable crab cakes, this is a seafood feast that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.


For those who want a deeper understanding of the world of crabbing, consider taking a tour that combines the crabbing adventure with a visit to a crab processing facility. Witness the behind-the-scenes process of how these prized crustaceans are prepared and packaged for distribution around the world.


Remember to dress in warm, waterproof clothing and bring your camera to capture the excitement and beauty of the crabbing adventure. Don’t forget to check the local regulations and guidelines for fishing, and always prioritize responsible and sustainable fishing practices.


A crabbing adventure in Ketchikan is not only a thrilling and hands-on experience, but also a chance to enjoy the incredible bounty of the Alaskan seas. It’s an opportunity to connect with the rich maritime heritage of the region while indulging in some of the most sought-after seafood in the world.


Salmon Fishing Excursion

Ketchikan is renowned worldwide for its incredible salmon fishing, and a salmon fishing excursion is a must-do activity for any angler visiting the area. With pristine rivers and abundant salmon runs, Ketchikan offers the perfect opportunity to test your skills and experience the thrill of reeling in these prized fish.


Join a guided salmon fishing excursion and set out on a memorable adventure along the Alaskan coastline. Experienced guides will take you to prime fishing spots, sharing their expertise and knowledge of local salmon behavior to give you the best chance of success.


Cast your line into the sparkling waters and feel the excitement build as you wait for that first strike. Whether you’re targeting the mighty Chinook Salmon, also known as king salmon, or the acrobatic Coho Salmon, also called silver salmon, each catch brings with it an exhilarating battle between fish and angler.


Ketchikan’s rivers are known for their strong salmon runs, providing ample opportunities to hook into these powerful fish. Feel the adrenaline rush as you engage in a tug-of-war with a salmon, using your strength and skill to reel it in. It’s an experience that will test your angling abilities and leave you with unforgettable memories.


Aside from the thrilling pursuit of salmon, a fishing excursion in Ketchikan also provides the opportunity to soak in the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Imagine yourself surrounded by towering mountains, lush forests, and the peaceful sounds of nature as you wait for that next bite.


Whether you’re an experienced angler or a novice, the guides on the salmon fishing excursions are there to assist you every step of the way. They will provide the necessary equipment, share valuable tips and techniques, and ensure that you have the best chance of landing that prized catch.


After a successful day on the water, the adventure continues back on shore as your guide prepares and packages your salmon for you to take home. Fresh Alaskan salmon is a culinary delight, known for its rich flavor and tender flesh. It’s the perfect reward for your fishing efforts and a delicious reminder of your time in Ketchikan.


Remember to check local fishing regulations and obtain the appropriate licenses before embarking on your salmon fishing excursion. Respect the delicate balance of the ecosystem and follow sustainable fishing practices to ensure the preservation of these remarkable fish for future generations.


A salmon fishing excursion in Ketchikan is not just about the thrill of the catch, but also about immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Alaska and connecting with the rich fishing heritage of the region. It’s an adventure that combines the excitement of angling with the tranquility of nature, creating memories that will last a lifetime.



As we conclude our exploration of the best excursions in Ketchikan, it becomes clear that this charming Alaskan town offers a wealth of opportunities for adventure, nature immersion, cultural discovery, and culinary delights. From the awe-inspiring Misty Fjords National Monument to the vibrant Creek Street, there is something to captivate every visitor.


Ketchikan’s natural beauty is unparalleled, with Misty Fjords offering breathtaking vistas of fjords, waterfalls, and rugged landscapes. The Tongass National Forest immerses visitors in lush greenery and diverse wildlife. And for a taste of the town’s history, Creek Street beckons with its fascinating past as a red-light district turned cultural hub.


Immersing oneself in the rich Native American heritage of Alaska is a must, and the Totem Bight State Historical Park and Alaska Native Heritage Center are perfect destinations for getting closer to the deeply rooted traditions, art forms, and cultural practices of Alaska’s indigenous peoples.


For those seeking wildlife encounters, Ketchikan has much to offer. Whether it’s embarking on a Ketchikan wildlife tour to witness humpback whales, bald eagles, and sea lions in their natural habitats, or partaking in a crabbing adventure to catch and feast on the famed Alaskan king crabs, the wildlife experiences are unforgettable.


And for the avid anglers, the salmon fishing excursions in Ketchikan provide the perfect opportunity to test their skills and reel in prized salmon while surrounded by the stunning landscapes of Alaska.


As visitors venture into these excursions, let us not forget the importance of responsible and sustainable tourism. Respecting the natural environment, following guidelines set by tour operators, and supporting local artisans and communities contribute to the preservation of the Alaskan ecosystem and cultural heritage for future generations.


In conclusion, Ketchikan truly offers a remarkable experience for every traveler. The town’s natural wonders, cultural insights, and thrilling adventures combine to create an unforgettable journey into the heart of Alaska’s beauty and heritage. So, pack your sense of adventure and immerse yourself in the wonders that await in Ketchikan, Alaska’s Gateway City.