Welcome to the Ketchikan cruise port guide. Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world and the 4th wettest place on earth, famous for its working girls, totem poles and Misty Fjords. Originally Ketchikan was founded in 1885 when canning salmon would become their main industry. The remains from that time can still be found at Creek Street, which is perhaps the most picturesque street in southeast Alaska. When visiting Ketchikan you’d better not wait for the rain to stop. It rains 300 days a year in Ketchikan. All together it enjoys a rainfall of over 200 inches each year. The locals in this 4th wettest place on earth describe this as the liquid sunshine! Ketchikan is the port of call in Alaska that offers the best information on totem poles and the Tongass National Forest. But this is not where it stops for this town. You have the option to go hiking, kayaking, see the salmon spawn in the creek and so much more. Find out underneath what there is to do in beautiful Ketchikan.
Cruise Port Guide Ketchikan – Alaska – USA: docked
Ketchikan has 4 docks available for cruise ships. All ships dock in front of the historical district of Ketchikan. Simply cross the street and you are there. There are a lot of attractions and museum in town. We do highly recommend to plan a trip further afield to get a real sense of what Alaska is all about. If you are staying in town you will miss out on this. Find out underneath what there is to do in Ketchikan.
Tourist information centre
In the summer there are 2 main visitor centres that you will find right at the berth. See the map above for its exact location. At the visitors centre you can get all kind of information like walking maps, bus schedules, hiking information, but you can also book tours and excursions.
Free shuttle bus service
The city of Ketchikan offers a free shuttle service in the downtown area. The shuttle will make a stop at all 4 cruise docks, Creek street, Thomas Stedman, Totem Heritage City Park and Plaza Mall. The shuttle should come by every 15 minutes. Pick up shuttle bus brochure at the tourist information. The bus is wheelchair accessible.
The public transport system in Ketchikan can bring you anywhere you need to go. There are 2 bus lines in Ketchikan of which the Silver Line might be the most interesting for you. The Silver Line Northbound takes you from the cruise ship dock to Totem Bight and Potlatch Park. The Silver Line Southbound takes you from the cruise dock to Saxman Totem Park. Busses usually departs once per hour. The bus fare is 1 US dollar per ride or 2 US dollar for a day pass. More information can be found on www.kgbak.us/transit. See the map above to check where the bus stops in Ketchikan are. Keep in mind that with several cruise ships in town the bus can be quite full. The bus is wheelchair accessible.
Taxis in Ketchikan
In Ketchikan taxis will be available, but keep in mind they are limited. Therefore it might be best to pre arrange a taxi. The taxi rate / fare is 3,50 US dollar a drop, 3 US dollar a mile.
In Ketchikan there are lots of shore excursions options. Ketchikan has good transportation facilities to get you out of town and to the attractions further afield. However, if you want to go for adventure like zip lining, whale watching, kayaking of fishing we recommend you to arrange a shore excursion.
There are lots of hiking trails in and around Ketchikan. For easy hikes we recommend:
– Rainbird trail: An easy 45 minute hike through the rain forest that starts in Ketchikan.
– Married men’s trail: A short 10 minute hike from Creek Street in town.
For more difficult hikes we recommend:
– Deer Mountain trail: Starts in town. The trail is 5 miles round trip with an elevation of 3000 feet. It takes about 4 hours (round-trip). It offers spectacular views over Ketchikan and the surrounding islands.
– Perseverance Lake trail: First take the Silver Line North Bound bus for 1 US dollar to Ward Cove. Find the start of the trail at the 3 C’s Campground Parking. The Perseverance Lake Trail is a 5 mile track (round trip), will take 3 hours (round trip) and has an elevation of 450 feet.
Always visit the tourist information on the dock before you head off. You always need to check on the latest information and status of the trail. This is also where you can pick up the hiking map of all the trails mentioned above.
Distance from port
City Centre Ketchikan 0 mile / 0 km
Creek street +/- 600 yards
Saxman Native Village 2,7 miles / 4,3 km east
Totem Bight State Park 10 mile / 16 km west
The perfect $2 day
If you are on a budget why not do it this way: Take the North Bound Silver bus (see description above) to the Totem Bright Park for $1. Entrance to the park is free. Learn about the totem poles and head back to town taking the South Bound Silver bus for $1. Head over to the tourist information to pick up the free walking tour map. It is a 2 mile walk bringing you by the most popular spots in town like the Totem Heritage Park and Creek Street. During the day you will come across more attractions like Potlatch Park, Dolly’s House and the Discovery Museum. Most often the entree fee is about $5 dollars per person.
FAQ about cruise destination Ketchikan
-Do you need a fishing license when fishing in Ketchikan? Yes you do. It costs 20 dollars day. A fishing license is available through carter operators or at sporting good stores.
-What will the weather be like in Ketchikan? You never know, but be prepared for rain. The best way to prepare is to layer up for any kind of weather.
The following sights are wheelchair accessible:
-City of Saxman
-The Great Lumberjack show
-Totem Heritage Centre
-Southeast Alaska Discovery Centre
-Alaska Raptor Centre
This museum in the heart of town discusses many different aspects of the Tongass like the locals way of life, ecosystems, wildlife and industry. It is a must for anybody wanting to learn more about this part of the world. Find the Discovery centre right in town, see map for its exact location. $5 entree.
Ketchikan offers 4 cruise dock which are all located in front of the center of town. From here you simply cross the street and you are in the historical part of town. Read our full Ketchikan cruise port guide for all the information about this cruise destination.
About 2,5 mile / 4 km southeast of Ketchikan you will find the Saxman Native Village. It is a carving centre where they create contemporary totem poles. Learn about this great skill of carving these poles and visit the show. Visit the Saxman Native Village by shore excursion or take the public Silver Line bus to it (see description above). $5 entree fee for unguided tours.
The visitors centre of Ketchikan offers a walking tour map so you can guide yourself around the town of Ketchikan, see all the mayor sights and learn about its history. The total walk is about 2 mile.
In Alaska you can find all five species of Alaska’s Pacific Salmon. They are King, Sockeye, Coho, Pink and Chum. Every year from August to October you will find the salmon find the very stream they were born to spawn and die. It is a phenomenal event that you cannot miss if your cruise is arriving in August or September.
This museum in town displays all kinds of ancient tools or the native people. Find the museum at Creek Street, just a couple of blocks walk from the ship.
Join this fun 1 hour show of the battle of the Lumberjacks. Find the show in town, see map above for its exact location. $37 dollar entree
The candy shop of Ketchikan is the KetchiCandy. Visit the store for the love of chocolate and take some home as a souvenir. Special tip: Oreo cookies covered in chocolate. Visit the shop in town. Find exact location on the map above.
Just north of Ketchikan you will find the Totem Pole Bight Park. They house a special collection of restored totem poles and give you all kind of information about the meaning of totem poles. At the Totem Pole Bight Park you will also find Potlatch Park. At the museum you will find a replica of a Native Village and collection of classic cars and rare firearms. Visit the park by shore excursion or take the Silver Line bus to it. Free entree.
This historical site houses original and unrestored totem poles created by Tlingit and Haida villages in the 19th century. This museum is a 15 minute walk from town or you can take the free shuttle bus to it.
Find this famous monument by Dave Rubin at the dock in Ketchikan. It features 7 large statues of Ketchikan’s past. Find Chief Johnson, a logger, a fisherman, a miner, an aviator, a native women and lady from the 1890’s here.
The famous and fun street in the centre of Ketchikan is Creek Street. This area used to be Ketchikan’s red light district. 30 stilt houses lined up the Ketchikan creek that is nowadays filled with lovely souvenir shops and museum. Make sure not to miss this picture perfect street in Ketchikan. Creek street is only a couple of blocks walk from your ship.
On Creek street you will find a Dolly’s House. Dolly Arthur was Ketchikan’s most famous Madam of negotiable affection. She would finally retire at the age of 72. Her house is preserved as she left it and is nowadays a museum. Dolly’s house is only a couple of blocks walk from your ship.
Ketchikan is the 4th wettest place on earth. Ketchikan lies in the largest temperate rain forest in the world. It receives over 200 inches of rain each year. Be prepared when visiting this town and don’t let rain spoil the fun. Enjoy what the locals call: liquid sunshine. They even honour rain with their liquid sunshine gauge on the pier!
Close to Ketchikan you can find the Misty Fjord National Monument. This sight is completely untouched by humans. You will find incredible scenery here. Inlets carved by glaciers thousands of years ago and wildlife in abundance. Visit this fjord by boat of floatplane shore excursion.
When shopping in Haines make sure to buy the products with this logo. This indicated the products has actually been made in Alaska.