Ketchikan is located on the southwest coast of Revillagigedo Island, on Tongass Narrows, 235 miles south of Juneau and 90 miles north of Prince Rupert, BC.
Originally a Tlingit Indian fish camp, settlers moved to the area for the mining and fishing. The first salmon cannery operated here in 1886; gold was discovered nearby in 1898; and Ketchikan was incorporated in 1900.
Ketchikan is Alaska’s first city and first port of call on the Alaska Marine Highway’s Inside Passage sailings from Bellingham, WA, and Prince Rupert, BC. Ketchikan is Alaska’s fifth largest city (after Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Sitka), supporting 5 public grade schools, 4 parochial grade schools, a junior high school, 2 high schools and the University of Alaska Southeast campus.
Accommodations at Landing Hotel (907/225-5166; www.landing
hotel.com), Cape Fox Lodge (907/225-8001; www.capefoxlodge.com), Gilmore Hotel (907/225-9423), Inn at Creek Street & New York Hotel (907/225-0246; www.thenewyorkhotel.com), and Super 8 Motel (1-800-800-8000; www.super8.com).
Shopping downtown and at Plaza Mall on Tongass Avenue (North Tongass Highway). There 2 laundromats with showers, a bookstore on Stedman Street, supermarkets, fast-food outlets, banks, many gift shops and a variety of other shops and services. Many local businesses downtown offer free WiFi. Ketchikan also has a Walmart, 4 miles north of downtown off the Tongass Highway.
Dining downtown and on the road system (see North and South Tongass Highway logs this section).
- Visit Creek Street, Ketchikan’s former “red-light district,” where Black Mary, Dolly, Frenchie and others plied their trade for over half a century. Restored houses and newer structures now host a variety of shops.
- Ride the Cape Fox Hill Funicular 130 vertical feet from Creek Street to the top of Cape Fox Hill and the lobby of the Cape Fox Lodge (small fee).
- Stop by Southeast Alaska Discovery Center at 50 Main St., for trip planning assistance, information on Alaska public lands, and interpretive exhibits on Native culture and southeast Alaska history and resources.
- Totem Heritage Center houses 33 totem poles and fragments retrieved from deserted Tlingit and Haida Native villages. This national landmark collection comprises the largest exhibit of original totems in the United States.
- Catch the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show (3–5 times daily, May–September).
- Ketchikan has an abundance of tour opportunities, from narrated trolley rides and historical sightseeing cruises to flightseeing tours, kayaking trips and canopy tours.
- Tour Misty Fiords National Monument by boat, floatplane or small ship Alaska cruise.
- Tongass Historical Museum features photos and artifacts of early-day Ketchikan and its development from Native fish camp to Alaska’s “First City.”
- Saxman Totem Park, 2.3 miles south of downtown, has 21 totems and a clan house. Guided tours include demonstrations at the Carving Center and performances by the Cape Fox Dancers at the Beaver Tribal House.
- Totem Bight State Historical Park, 10 miles north of downtown, contains an excellent model of a Tlingit community house and 14 totems in a beautiful wooded setting.