The Top Things To Do In Ketchikan

Whether you're cruising Alaska's Inside Passage and Ketchikan is your port of call, or you're flying in and visiting independently, these are the top experiences in Ketchikan.

Cruisers often have time for one or two excursions while in port. Independent travelers can easily find enough activities to spend several days in Ketchikan!

1. View Totem Poles

Admire beautiful works of art and Alaskan Native culture like this at Totem Bight State Park.

Check out the world’s largest collection of 19th-century totem poles—and learn their rich history and meaning—at the Totem Heritage Center.

Want to see more of these unique carvings? Head to Totem Bight State Park, located on the ocean north of town, or go just south of town to Saxman Totem Park.

View all Historic Parks & Sites

2. Stroll Creek Street & Explore Town

Get insights into the town’s natural and cultural treasures at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, full of interactive exhibits and displays, along with a movie theater.

Lighthouse lovers will want to check out the 100-year-old Guard Island Lighthouse, which you can see from the North Tongass Highway or a charter boat.

Then duck into fun shops as you stroll Creek Street Boardwalk, home to the town’s red-light district until the 1950s.

View all Ketchikan Points of Interest

3. Get on (or in) the Water - Fish, Kayak Cruise, or Snorkel!

Anglers will love Ketchikan, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Go out on one of the many fishing charters to cast for these famous Alaskan fish.

On a sea kayaking tour, you can explore the waters on a 3- or 5-hour excursion. Or, head off in a zodiac (they way the locals get around!).

Don a wet­suit, mask, fins and snorkel and get an up-close look at the sea crea­tures of the 49th state: urchins, sea stars, crabs, sea cucum­bers. It will be the most unique experience you have in Alaska.

Choose Your Kayak, Boat Cruise, Fishing Charter, or Snorkel Tour

4. Hiking & ATV Tours

Ketchikan sits on the fabled Inside Passage and is surrounded by old-growth forest; in other words, it’s the perfect place to find scenic views and lush woods. See it all on a Jeep or ATV tour, where you’ll be driving around old logging roads.

Another option: a guided hiking trip, which you can combine with biking or kayaking, making for the ultimate Ketchikan adventure. If you’re more of a DIY traveler, pick a hiking trail and set off! You’ll find a wealth of views and wildlife around the area.

Choose Your Jeep or Hiking Tour, or Explore Ketchikan Trails

5. See Bald Eagles

Ketchikan is one of the best places in Southeast Alaska to see Bald Eagles. Eagle's remain in Ketchikan because eagles know they won’t starve here. Eagles are carnivores and live to eat fish, so you’ll see them plenty at the mouth of salmon streams, Ward Cove, Herring Cove, Ketchikan Creek. Salmon pass through the area from April through September. Eagles even hang around in winter; the water remains ice-free, and the fish keep coming.

See Eagle Viewing Spots in Ketchikan

Ketchikan Day Tours & Attractions View All

Season: May - September $359+ Day Trips 5+ hrs

Bara­nof Fish­ing Excur­sions offers clas­sic Alas­ka fish­ing expe­ri­ences from their pri­vate mari­na in down­town Ketchikan. They pro­vide every­thing you need from rub­ber boots to expert guides, for an extra­or­di­nary fish­ing adventure!

Season: Year Round $550+ per group (up to 11) 90 mins - 4 hrs

Lots of com­pa­nies offer sight­see­ing tours in Ketchikan, but Emer­ald For­est Tours runs only pri­vate, cus­tom tours to ensure you get the inside scoop on this fas­ci­nat­ing Alaskan city. On board an 11-pas­sen­ger van, you’ll head out to stops where you’ll have a chance to see bears, water­falls, inter­tidal life, and Sax­man Native Vil­lage. They also offer win­ter­time tours, as well as tours in Span­ish (which you won’t find else­where in Ketchikan). 

Season: April 1 - Sept 30 $190+ per person 3+ hrs

Expe­ri­ence kayak­ing in Alas­ka the way it should be — away from the crowds — with these unique Ketchikan pad­dling tours that make you feel like a true explor­er. Your small group (usu­al­ly just 4 peo­ple) will board the company’s com­fort­able boat and set off from the Ketchikan cruise-ship dock, leav­ing the big ships and the crowds behind. Choose from a 3‑hour tour, or 5‑hour kayak and hike tour.

Season: Late April-early October $189 per person 4 hrs

Board a rigid-hull inflat­able boat for a 20-minute ride out to a seclud­ed island. Weave through a series of small islands with mas­sive cliffs that rise hun­dreds of feet out of the ocean, check out active bald eagle nests and look for sea lions and seabird rook­eries along the way. Once at the island, you’ll climb out on the beach, break out into small­er groups, and set off on a stun­ning hike on a board­walk that snakes through the rainforest.  ...more

Season: May 01 to Sep 21 $175 2.5 hrs

Explore the gor­geous, dynam­ic scenery and wildlife around Ketchikan by get­ting out on the water in a low-impact Zodi­ac — an authen­ti­cal­ly Alaskan way to trav­el! Every expe­di­tion is dif­fer­ent as there’s flex­i­bil­i­ty for some spon­tane­ity. You can spend extra time in a place if there’s a mag­i­cal, Nation­al Geo­graph­ic-type moment happening!

Season: Apr 28 - Sept 28 $169.99 3 hrs

Don a wet­suit, mask, fins and snorkel and get an up-close look at the unique sea crea­tures of the 49th state: urchins, sea stars, crabs, sea cucum­bers, and…what’s that…a hump­back whale swim­ming near­by?! This is the mag­ic of snor­kel­ing in Alas­ka — a sin­gu­lar expe­ri­ence that you can only do in the waters around Ketchikan. No expe­ri­ence? No problem.

Season: Late April-early October $139 per person 3.5 hrs

Pad­dle all around a shim­mer­ing lake, look­ing for wildlife on the shore and rev­el­ing in the spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain views that sur­round you. Then stop off at a shore­line camp to enjoy a snack over an open fire. When you’re fin­ished, you’ll go on a short walk through a dra­mat­ic old-growth forest.

Season: May 1–September 30 $28,000 per week for up to 4 people 7 days

Embark on an unfor­get­table, week-long Alaskan adven­ture through south­east Alas­ka aboard a 58-foot char­ter yacht that departs from stun­ning Prince of Wales Island. Up to 6 peo­ple can join this immer­sive wilder­ness expe­ri­ence, where you’ll see Alas­ka in a unique and authen­tic way by fish­ing, hik­ing, kayak­ing, see­ing wildlife, and learn­ing about local culture. 

Season: May 1 - September 1 Custom Trips, Call for Quote 3 - 21 Days

Dis­cov­er South­east Alaska’s nat­ur­al won­ders aboard a char­tered sail­boat with Sail­ing Alas­ka. Cus­tomize your pri­vate expe­di­tion with expe­ri­enced cap­tain John Joeright and enjoy all-inclu­sive meals, com­fort­able accom­mo­da­tions, and end­less adven­tures on the 46-foot S/V Sham­rock. Watch whales, hike, fish, vis­it local com­mu­ni­ties, and more — all at your own pace.

Season: April—October $100+ 3-4 hrs

South­east Alas­ka is home to the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est, where near­ly 17 mil­lion acres of glac­i­ers, moun­tains, rivers, and fjords com­ple­ment old-growth forests of spruce, cedar, and hem­lock. Walk among these giant sen­tinels, some well over 500 years old, and breathe in the pris­tine air that they pro­vide in one of North America’s largest car­bon sinks. Expe­ri­ence this world-renowned gem of a rain­for­est on a guid­ed hike or an SUV tour when you stop  ...more

Season: May 14 - Sept 16 $250+ per person 4-8 hrs

Ketchikan is known as the salmon cap­i­tal of the world,” and this unique­ly per­son­al tour is your chance to angle for these icon­ic Alaskan fish — as well as huge hal­ibut. You’ll board an inti­mate fish­ing boat — com­plete with top-qual­i­ty fish­ing and rain gear, as well as heaters, snacks, and bev­er­ages — close to the Ketchikan cruise ter­mi­nal. And, since this is a pri­vate char­ter, it will be only your group on board!

Season: May–September $390+ per person Half & Full Day

Ketchikan — the salmon fish­ing cap­i­tal of the world — was made for fish­ing. And Salmon Falls Resort has made it easy to expe­ri­ence this icon­ic Alaskan activ­i­ty with a full or half-day of unfor­get­table angling. Whether you’re stop­ping for the day in Ketchikan on a cruise ship or already in town and look­ing for a great one-day out­ing, this is for you.

Season: Late April-early October $229 per person 4 hrs

Dri­ve your own jeep along pri­vate log­ging roads that wind up into the moun­tains, on your way to an alpine lake. Pad­dle across the shim­mer­ing lake to a shore­line camp for a deli­cious snack over an open fire. Enjoy some sto­ry­telling, then go on a short nature walk through a beau­ti­ful old-growth forest.

Season: May - Sept $350+ per person 4 - 8 hrs

From cruise ship excur­sions to all-day fish­ing trips, Ketchikan’s Finest Fish­ing Char­ters pro­vides top-notch equip­ment and a cus­tomized approach to make your trip an adven­ture to remem­ber. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and be ready for a fish­ing expe­ri­ence like no other!

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Ketchikan Parks & Trails View All

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

The most­ly-flat Ward Lake trail fol­lows the cir­cum­fer­ence of the lake’s shore in a swath of grav­el that is wide enough for two peo­ple to walk abreast. Ward Lake is tucked into the edge of the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est bound­ary. Its prox­im­i­ty to town makes the recre­ation area pop­u­lar with the locals.

Difficulty: Moderate

Run­ning just above and par­al­lel to Ketchikan’s Third Avenue Bypass, Rain­bird Trail is per­fect if you only have a cou­ple hours but still want to expe­ri­ence a small piece of South­east Alaska’s rain­for­est. The trail­head is only 20 min­utes from down­town (a short dri­ve rel­a­tive to most oth­er trails), and the trail’s south­ern end — just beyond the top of the met­al stairs — offers great views of down­town Ketchikan, the Ton­gass Nar­rows, and the neighboring  ...more

The Sal­vage Trail is an out-and-back trail that rolls up and down through the woods, par­al­lel­ing Revil­la Road. The trail is a wide grav­el path where two-to-three peo­ple can walk beside each other.

Refuge Cove State Recre­ation Site is a sliv­er of land lin­ing part of an edge of a neigh­bor­hood and is a pop­u­lar beach pic­nick­ing des­ti­na­tion with the locals. The site comes com­plete with pit toi­lets, shel­tered and unshel­tered pic­nic tables with fire grates, and a quar­ter-mile trail accom­pa­nied by inter­pre­tive signs that address the local nat­ur­al history.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 170 feet

The one-mile grav­el trail to Coast Guard Beach winds through Ketchikan Gate­way Bor­ough land and then cross­es into Alas­ka Men­tal Health Trust Land. Most­ly the trail descends to the beach; how­ev­er, a few hills do rise along the way. This beach is a good place for walk­ing, sun­bathing, beach­comb­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, writ­ing, read­ing, med­i­ta­tion, tai-chi, just sit­ting, marine-life view­ing, and dog swimming.

Difficulty: Easy Elevation Gain: 450 feet

This is a pop­u­lar week­end hike if you want to spend two-to-four hours in the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est and is only about 15 – 20 min­utes north of town. Though you gain ele­va­tion on the hike up to the lake, it is not unfor­giv­ing­ly steep. Per­se­ver­ance Lake is one of Ketchikan’s pic­turesque moun­tain-lake scenes.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 2600 feet

Deer Moun­tain is Ketchikan’s icon­ic back­drop. The path briefly threads between res­i­den­tial lots, then turns to a rocky trail that quick­ly ascends. On the way up there are mul­ti­ple scenic overlooks.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet

The dri­ve out to the Dude Moun­tain trail­head is one of the most scenic dri­ves that Ketchikan has to offer. The trail begins wind­ing through lush rain­for­est. The last part is steep and can be mud­dy in wet weath­er or cov­ered in snow in spring and fall.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 150 feet

If you are look­ing for a short­ish in-town” trail, this trail begins at the back of a neigh­bor­hood and walks up a ser­vice road to a dam that over­looks a moun­tain-lake scene.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Locat­ed in the Ton­gass Nation­al For­est, Ward Creek is wide enough to dri­ve a truck down, though no vehi­cles are per­mit­ted, and is pop­u­lar with the locals for walk­ing dogs. Across the road from the Ward Lake Recre­ation Area park­ing lot, trail­head 1 takes you north and fol­lows Ward Creek, which flows out of Con­nell Lake, by the Last Chance camp­ground, and through Ward Lake to even­tu­al­ly meet the ocean in Ward Cove.

Leav­ing from the end of Ton­gass High­way, enter the Lunch Creek Trail and very soon take the trail to the left as this steps you quick­ly down to a water­fall view­ing plat­form and then the rest of the way down to where, to the right, you can also cross the Lunch Creek bridge, which pro­vides water­fall views as well as the ocean where the creek flows into.

Elevation Gain: 2600 feet

If you are a lover of alpine, stun­ning views, and longer, more chal­leng­ing hikes, then this all-day, one-way moun­tain tra­verse between Car­lan­na Lake and Per­se­ver­ance Lake is the per­fect choice.

On one of the run-off creeks from Achilles Moun­tain or Twin Peaks Moun­tain above pours a 100-foot or more water­fall right beside Ton­gass High­way towards the end of the road

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

If you want to get away and don’t have a boat or a plane, this is as far away north one can eas­i­ly get from Ketchikan. The trail ends at the head­wa­ters of Lunch Creek — the shores of Lake Emery Tobin, which is sur­round­ed by a rim of steep moun­tain­sides often capped with snow ridges and peaks.

Difficulty: Easy Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Con­nell Lake is a good choice if you want a trail that is less pop­u­lar but just as close to town as the Per­se­ver­ance trail. The rocky, dirt path gen­tly climbs through the rain­for­est canopy and hugs the shore­line of the lake. On the oth­er side is a nice flat area that the creek bows around, cre­at­ing a small penin­su­la. A fire-pit indi­cates that this is a pre­ferred spot to spend some time or camp.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 200 feet

This hike offers a nice wide-open space expe­ri­ence and is not very long. Much like hik­ing the access road to Low­er Sil­vis Lake, the Whit­man Trail is anoth­er ser­vice road to two dams that gen­er­ate elec­tric­i­ty for Ketchikan res­i­dents and was recent­ly made avail­able for hik­ing and recre­ation; how­ev­er, no motor­ized vehi­cles are per­mit­ted. Infor­ma­tive signs are post­ed on a fence gate up the road and on both dams.

Set­tlers Cove State Recre­ation Site offers two of the best sandy beach­es to be found in the Ketchikan area and pro­vides pit toi­lets and shel­tered and unshel­tered pic­nic tables with fire grates. A camp­ground with eight camp­sites is avail­able as well and one pub­lic-use cab­in on the water that can be rented.

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