The first port of call on the fabled Alaska Marine Highway, frontier Ketchikan is a fishing and timber town with a rich Native Alaskan heritage. Get the lowdown on totems and wildlife, and learn about the town’s rip roaring days of a century ago when gold miners passed through en route to the Klondike.
Day 1: Creek Street
Step into Ketchikan’s past with a stroll along Creek Street, the port town’s former red-light district. Get insights into the life of a working madam at Dolly’s House on Creek Street, complete with boudoir and sitting room. The Creek Street boardwalk is lined with period wooden buildings, nowadays housing shops and restaurants with a frontier theme.
Day 2: Alaskan Wildlife
Explore Alaska’s wildlife emblems with a visit to a salmon hatchery and eagle reserve at Deer Mountain, home to bald eagles, hawks and peregrine falcons. Go fly-fishing for salmon in the rugged granite wilderness of Misty Fjords National Monument, and spot moose, grizzlies, deer, sea otters, mountain goats and breaching orcas. The park is also a magnet for hikers following trails winding through Yosemite-like craters to mountain lakes and valleys.
Day 3: Totems
Celebrate Alaska’s native heritage at Saxman Native Village, where Tlingit totem poles are carved with traditional emblems. A folklore group reveals the age-old stories behind the totems’ carvings in traditional song and dance. To learn more about the significance of Alaska’s totems, drop into Ketchikan’s Totem Heritage Center, housing a remarkable group of tall century-old totems. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and Tongass Historical Museum are also fonts of wisdom about all things Alaskan.