Ketchikan takes great pride in being a focal point for learning about Southeast Alaskan cultures through totem poles, symbolic icons of a village’s economic and cultural wealth. This area boasts some of the world’s best totem pole artists, many of whom have participated in reproducing original totems using hand-tools for carving, just as their ancestors did.

A tour of totem pole sites near Ketchikan is easy to manage in one day. The hair will stand up on your arms as you consider the craftsmanship and the depth and complexity of each totem’s unique message.

All sites are accessible by bus or free downtown shuttle. For the most flexibility with a cramped schedule, rent a car or take a cab.

Totem Bight State Historic Park – 10 miles north of Ketchikan. A scenic path through the rainforest takes you on a journey past 14 totems, all painstakingly reproduced from original totems found at abandoned village sites near Ketchikan. Enter and explore the 14-acre site, which includes a replica of a Tlingit clanhouse. Go on your own or with a guided service for a more in-depth tour. No entry fee.

Totem Heritage Center – In town. The resting place of original totems, Totem Heritage Center showcases examples of preserved 19th-century in a climate-controlled environment. Imagine the intricate carvings in their full, colorful glory before they were abandoned – and then later recovered – from nearby villages. Just a five-minute ride from the cruise ship docks, or an easy distance for walking in good weather. Open every day May-September from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nominal entry fee.

Saxman Native Village – 2.5 miles south of town. Saxman’s Totem Park offers more than two dozen examples of poles and posts, many which are replicas or restored versions of original totems found at abandoned villages in the area. The park includes a tribal house, a carving center, and a cultural hall for traditional Tlingit dance exhibitions. Entrance fee to the open-air portion of the park is nominal, but you’ll need to buy a ticket at the gift shop for access to the carving center or for an exhibition of Native dancing.

Getting There

9883 N Tongass Hwy
Ketchikan, AK 99901
Driving Directions