Although you may have traveled to Ketchikan for some of our world-class fishing, it’s likely you don’t want to spend your entire time here searching for Salmon and Halibut.
While we may live and breathe fishing and are known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”, there’s so much more to Ketchikan. Our location at the southern end of Alaska’s Inside Passage and in the midst of the Tongass National Forest puts us right in the middle of the some of the most scenic wilderness in the world.
Visiting Ketchikan and Alaska is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most, so it’s important you make the most of your time while you’re here. Below are 8 things you can do during your visit to Ketchikan besides fishing.
Misty Fjords National Monument – Part of the Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords is an awe-inspiring treasure about 40 miles east of Ketchikan. Misty Fjords consists of steep, almost vertical granite walls that are an astounding 3,000 feet tall in some spots. The deep fjords and walls of granite were formed by receding glaciers around 17,000 years ago. Misty Fjords is also home to many mineral springs and volcanic lava flows. You may also encounter killer whales and porpoises in Behm Canal, or mountain goats and bears in the surrounding 2+ million acre wilderness.
Flightseeing Tours – We’ve all heard sightseeing, but flightseeing gives the term a whole new meaning. Several companies around Ketchikan offer impressive tours of the surrounding Tongass National Forest and nearby Misty Fjords by helicopter or sea-plane. Taking a flightseeing tour will allow you to see Ketchikan from an entirely different perspective in a short amount of time.
Wildlife Viewing – While you can see humpback whales, porpoises and sea lions during your Ketchikan fishing excursion, getting out in the surrounding area presents a lot of opportunities to see bears, bald eagles, the Sitka black-tail deer, mountain goats, wolves and other wildlife. You can either visit a remote wilderness area like Misty Fjords, or simply take a drive along the Tongass Highway for a chance at seeing some incredible wildlife. You can strike out on your own, or take a wildlife tour that will be able to help you identify animals in their native habitats.
Totem Poles – Besides being considered the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan could also be called the “Totem Pole Capital of the World,” or at least of Alaska. Many of the 80 totem poles found throughout the city are over 100 years old. The Totem Heritage Center preserves some of the most historic totem poles in a climate-controlled environment. You can also visit the nearby Totem Bight State Historical Park to catch a glimpse of some historical totems that were re-created in the mid-20th century. Indigenous tribes of Ketchikan include the Haida, Tilgit and Tshimsian tribes.
Art Galleries – Besides fishing, Ketchikan also has a vibrant arts scene. Many artists are drawn to the Ketchikan area for its scenic beauty, history and culture. There are over 350 registered artists in Ketchikan and probably even more who are unregistered. Dance, theater, painting, knitting and other creative pursuits are a popular way to pass the time during the long, cold winters. To get a sampling of this art, you can simply stroll through town or visit one of many art galleries in the area.
Hiking – The surrounding Tongass National Forest and nearby Misty Fjords provides incredible hiking opportunities to see places very few go. If you’re looking for true solitude with the area’s wilderness, there’s no better way than to get out and put one foot in front of the other. The Tongass Forest has over 700 miles of hiking trails for every age and capability – enjoy a leisure stroll down a boardwalk or embark on a rugged hike into the surrounding mountains.
Salmon Cannery – Ketchikan didn’t get the moniker of “Salmon Capital of the World” for nothing. Not only is fishing a mainstay of the local economy, so is the canning of salmon. If you want to get an up close and personal glimpse of how salmon is processed from a whole fish to canning, you should take a tour of one of many facilities in the area. Visiting a cannery will give you a whole new appreciation of the Salmon you see stocked on grocery store shelves back in your hometown.
Just relax – One option besides fishing in Ketchikan is to do nothing. Sleep in, find a park bench and just take in our clean air. If you’re staying at a resort, get a massage, or enjoy a fine meal at one of many exquisite restaurants in town. You’re on vacation after all, so don’t feel like you have to be on the move the entire time you’re here.
Again, we live and breathe fishing here in Ketchikan, but you’ll quickly learn that isn’t all what we’re about. While you may think a remote town of our size wouldn’t have much, you’ll be surprised to find out what a vibrant community Ketchikan really is.
If you’re fishing in Ketchikan but looking for some additional things to do during your stay, there’s no better source than the locals. Ask your fishing guide or a concierge at your hotel what they would suggest, or visit the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau online before you travel here to learn more about what our wonderful town has to offer.