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Ketchikan Sightseeing & Walking Tour

Ketchican Cruise Port Welcome to Ketchikan
Welcome to Ketchikan

Our second stop in Alaska and for the first time since we left London it was raining. We were incredibly lucky with the weather on this trip but it was really pouring in Ketchikan Cruise Port. Still, after all those days at sea, we were still keen to spend as much time on land as possible so we put our coats on and went on a walking tour of the town.

Salmon

As soon as you arrive in Ketchikan you notice that they like their salmon. Firstly, there’s the large ‘Welcome to Ketchikan: The Salmon Capital of the World’ sign as you start walking into town. Then there’s the abundance of shops selling salmon and related products. In fact, there’s even a salmon market.

Ketchican Cruise Port The Salmon Market in Ketchikan Cruise Port
The Salmon Market in Ketchikan Cruise Port

As can be seen in the photo above, it was raining pretty hard so not necessarily the best day to be walking outside. It was worth getting a bit wet though as Ketchikan is a very picturesque town.

Ketchican Cruise Port White Church in Ketchikan Cruise Port
White Church in Ketchikan Cruise Port

It’s a small town but there are plenty of things to see. I noticed that the churches are often white here which does look rather distinctive.

Totem Poles

Straightaway we noticed that there are numerous totem poles around town. They’re all different and are thus a fascinating insight into the history of Ketchikan.

Totem Pole in Ketchikan
Totem Pole in Ketchikan
Ketchican Cruise Port Totem Pole in Ketchikan
Totem Pole in Ketchikan

As I have said already, it was very wet. As can be seen in the photo above, I’m completely soaked and this was just the beginning of our walk. I was certainly glad I had my cold-weather gear with me.

While we like to just wander and explore we do like some sense of direction so we followed the walking tour map which we picked up at the visitor’s centre at the port. You can also see this walking tour online and now you can download it as an app. We found it a great introduction to Ketchikan so do pick one up.

Creek Street

By following the walking map we came to Creek Street which is quite a famous part of Ketchikan. Creek Street is built on wooden stilts above the river as can be seen in the photo below. Apologies for the raindrops on the lens but it really was torrential rain.

Ketchican Cruise Port Creek Street Ketchikan
Creek Street Ketchikan

It’s a historic area with some really fascinating buildings. Particularly interesting – it even has a red light district! In fact, Creek Street was quite famous for its brothels in the 1920s. Visit Dolly’s House Museum to find out more about this part of Ketchikan’s history.

Ketchican Cruise Port Creek Street Ketchikan
Creek Street Ketchikan

During your visit, don’t forget to browse the many shops which line the boardwalk on Creek Street. Here you can find some fabulous local souvenirs and you can also take home your own totem pole. I couldn’t fit one in my rucksack but I did get some lovely earrings instead.

Buy your own totem pole to take home in Creek Street
Buy your own totem pole to take home

While you’re exploring Creek Street make sure to look out for the Salmon. In fact, this is a great place to spot these famous Alaskan fish as they make their way up Ketchikan creek.

Ketchican Cruise Port Ketchikan Creek
Ketchikan Creek

In the photo below you can see a Salmon Ladder. These are wooden structures built into the side of the creek to help the salmon make their way up the river. Surprisingly, they literally jump up through the slats to climb the rapids. Of course, this makes it the ideal location for viewing the salmon.

Salmon Ladder
Salmon Ladder

Tongrass Historical Museum

Tongrass Historical Museum
Tongrass Historical Museum

The Tongrass Historical Museum is a small but interesting museum within walking distance of the cruise port, although you can also take the shuttle bus. In fact, it was the first place we visited on our walk around Ketchikan. From the outside, it looks rather unimposing and we might have passed by if the weather was better. However, don’t do that. It’s really worth popping inside to take a look around and find out more about the history of the Ketchikan area.

Tongrass Historical Museum: Practical Information

Opening Hours:

September 29, 2019 – April 30, 2020:
1 pm to 5 pm Tuesday-Saturday
May – September: 8 am to 5 pm Daily

Admission:
Adults: $6
Over 65s: $5
Children under 17 are free
Note that admission is only charged during the main season between May and September

Shuttle Bus: From May to September there is a free shuttle bus from the cruise port and downtown area

Totem Heritage Centre

Totem Heritage Centre Ketchikan
Totem Heritage Centre Ketchikan

Once you’ve walked around Ketchikan for a while it will come as no surprise that they have a museum dedicated to Totem poles. The Totem Heritage Centre showcases endangered Totem poles and helps preserve the work of the indigenous peoples, the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

Totem Heritage Centre Ketchikan
Totem Heritage Centre Ketchikan

Totem Heritage Centre: Practical Information

Opening Hours:

September 29, 2019 – April 30, 2020:
1 pm to 5 pm Tuesday-Saturday
May – September: 8 am to 5 pm Daily

Admission:
Adults: $6
Over 65s: $5
Children under 17 are free
Note that admission is only charged during the main season between May and September

Shuttle Bus: From May to September there is a free shuttle bus from the cruise port and downtown area

Cape Fox Lodge Hotel

During our walk, we met a friendly local mailman who was impressed that we were exploring his city on foot in the pouring rain. He suggested we take a short detour up these wooden stairs to see Cape Fox Lodge Hotel. It was quite a climb but at least it was sheltered from the rain by the tall trees.

Wooden Steps up to Cape Fox Lodge Hotel
Wooden Steps up to Cape Fox Lodge Hotel
Wooden Steps up to Cape Fox Lodge Hotel
Wooden Steps up to Cape Fox Lodge Hotel

At the top, we arrived in the hotel car park to be greeted by a whole collection of Totem Poles.

Totem Poles at Cape Fox Lodge Hotel
Totem Poles at Cape Fox Lodge Hotel

It was definitely worth the climb. If we were staying in the city then this would be a great hotel as it has fabulous views across Ketchikan. As it was so wet we wandered inside and spent some time relaxing in the spacious lobby area. It was very warm and inviting and they were happy for us to take our wet coats off and dry out a bit before heading off on our walk again. There’s also a friendly coffee shop in the lobby which was a very welcome sight.

Gold Mining

Statue dedicated to Gold Mining in Ketchikan
Statue dedicated to Gold Mining in Ketchikan

Ketchikan has a history of gold mining. You’ll find a statue commemorating it right near the port area. Wandering through City Park we also found this huge gold nugget. The label says it all really, the world’s largest gold nugget. Of course, I couldn’t resist having my photo taken with it. I guess this one isn’t real gold!!!

World's Largest Gold Nugget in City Park Ketchikan
World’s Largest Gold Nugget in City Park Ketchikan

Waterfront

Despite the rain, we had a fabulous day walking around Ketchikan and I highly recommend exploring the city this way. We finished our tour at the waterfront. I love walking around looking at the smaller boats moored in the marina.

Ketchikan Waterfront
Ketchikan Waterfront

We also got a great view of the Volendam berthed across the bay. As can be seen in the photo below, the cruise port is very conveniently located near the downtown area.

Voldendam in the port of Ketchikan
Voldendam in the port of Ketchikan

Check out these other blog posts from our trip around the world without flying:

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Take a walking tour around Ketchikan Cruise Port. Discover its links to salmon, gold mining and totem poles as you stroll around this picturesque port. #Alaska #Ketchikan
 
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