9 Best Excursions In Ketchikan Alaska

9 Best Excursions In Ketchikan Alaska
Ketchikan is a popular port of call on Alaska cruises. This small town is set at the southern tip of the Inside Passage, which connects the Gulf of Alaska and Puget Sound. Ketchikan is rich in native culture, and it offers a wealth of activities for cruise passengers.

Some cruise ships dock in the heart of Ketchikan, while others call at the Ward Cove terminal located seven miles outside of Ketchikan’s downtown area. Ward Cove is one of Alaska’s newer cruise ports. Cruise guests arriving at Ward Cove can enjoy onsite activities, take shore excursions from this location, or shuttle to Ketchikan for even more adventures.

Visitors to Ketchikan often enjoy strolling around Creek Street, one of the town’s most photogenic areas. Cruise guests flock to colorful Creek Street to take pictures of the historic buildings, dine, and shop at local boutiques. Since Ketchikan is located in an intertidal zone, Creek Street's picturesque boardwalk area is built on wooden stilts and pilings over the water to prevent floods from tidal swings of over 20 feet.

Ketchikan is also sometimes referred to as the "Rain Capital of Alaska" due to its wet weather, bring along some rain gear if you're planning to visit. It's also fun to sample plenty of Dungeness crab and local seafood at Alaska Fish House or Annabelle's Famous Keg & Chowder House while you're in town.

If you're taking a cruise through Southeast Alaska, here are nine great excursions to consider for your day in Ketchikan.

1. Learn About Alaska Native Culture
Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world as well as the largest Clan House in Southeast Alaska. Cruise guests can view dozens of massive totem poles carved by Tlingit and Haida native carvers and learn about their significance at Totem Heritage Center, Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Historical Park. There are a number of totem poles in the central area of Ketchikan as well.

2. Marvel At Misty Fjords National Monument
Misty Fjords National Monument spans well over 2 million acres. The spectacular steep fjords found in this part of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest are gorgeous. Here you'll see massive sheer granite cliffs crowned with waterfalls, icy glaciers, crystal clear lakes, snowcapped mountain peaks, old growth rainforest and a wide variety of wildlife. Experiencing this area is often one of the highlights of an Alaska cruise vacation. Visitors can explore Misty Fjords National Monument by aircraft or boat. Some shore excursions combine both, and certain flightseeing tours include landing on a lake and a forest hike. Ketchikan flightseeing trips are very popular, so make sure to reserve these well in advance if interested. Some tour companies offer hiking trips in the Tongass National Forest as well.

3. Savor A Delicious Crab Feast
Enjoy an all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab feast at historic George Inlet Lodge. Set in a remote location along the George Inlet waterway, this excursion is a wonderful choice for those who enjoy seafood. The tasty meal features Dungeness crab, salad, a slice of cheesecake topped with Alaskan blueberries, and unlimited hot and cold beverages. One alcoholic drink is included with the meal as well.

4. Spot Wildlife By Boat Or Kayak
The Tongass National Forest and the waterways around Ketchikan are excellent locations for wildlife viewing and taking in some of Alaska's most beautiful scenic vistas. Cruise lines and private tour operators offer a number of excursions that allow guests to experience this magnificent area by kayak, canoe, zodiac, or small boat. On these excursions, guests may see humpback whales, bald eagles, orcas, seals, sea lions, river otters, mink and deer. Black bears are sometimes spotted as well. Canoe and boat tours are often combined with nature hikes through the old-growth rainforest, seafood feasts, trips to Totem Bight State Park and other adventures. These trips can be well-suited for families as well.

5. Sail On The Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour
One of Ketchikan's most popular tours is the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour for those interested in a different kind of fishing. Cruise guests can board the Aleutian Ballad, featured on the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch show, meet its crew and sail with them inside the protected waters around Ketchikan. As the fishermen haul in their catch, guests can see a variety of marine life including halibut, rockfish, prawns, sea stars, and large Alaskan king crabs.

6. Enjoy Thrilling Ziplines And Backcountry Adventures
Cruise guests seeking an adrenaline rush can find their fun in Ketchikan. Ketchikan's Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition course lets cruise guests soar along eight different ziplines and work their way across three aerial bridges suspended up to 135 feet above the ground. An alternative Ketchikan zipline option at Southeast Exposure Outdoor Adventure Center features eight ziplines and an optional 50-foot climbing tower. Other tours take cruise passengers hiking, biking, backcountry jeep or UTV touring, and on adventure kart expeditions.

7. Take A Bear Watching Excursion
The greater Ketchikan area is one of Southeast Alaska's best places to see bears. If you're looking for tours with frequent bear sightings, Ketchikan has several tours that fit the bill. Guests on flightseeing and boat excursions to Neets Bay can see the black bears that live in this area. Other flightseeing tours take cruise guests to Traitor's Cove or the Prince of Wales Wilderness area where black bears are also found. Those wishing to possibly see both black and brown bears may want to opt for flightseeing excursions to Anan Wildlife Observatory or Misty Fjords National Monument where both types of bears may be seen. Bears can also sometimes be seen around Herring Cove at the very south of Ketchikan during salmon spawning season. They're reportedly more likely to be spotted here in August and early September. This area can be accessed by road, making it possible to get here by vehicle. Bears can sometimes be seen at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, a 40-acre reserve located at Herring Cove.

8. Fish For Salmon and Halibut
Ketchikan is well-known for its exceptional fishing opportunities. Many cruise vacationers enjoy going out by boat to reel in salmon or halibut. Fishing licenses are required. Both small group and private charter fishing options are available here and caught fish can generally be processed and shipped home. Stedman Bridge at Creek Street is a popular fishing spot in mid-July and August when salmon make their run up Ketchikan Creek. Fishing gear rentals and required licenses are available along Creek Street for those wishing to fish while in town.

9. View A Fun-Filled Show
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is a popular shore excursion for Alaska cruise guests. The grandstands for this event are located in historic downtown Ketchikan, just a short walk from the cruise pier. Some of the world’s best lumberjacks compete in events such as sawing, chopping, axe throwing, log rolling, relay races, and even a 50-foot speed climb. The lumberjack competition is fun for all ages to watch. It’s also a great way to learn more about the history of the Alaska logging industry.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Nancy Schretter. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nancy Schretter. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nancy Schretter for details.