Tour Ketchikan Alaska: Quirky and Wild

Clan House, Totem Bight State Park

Tour Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan is your typical first Alaskan stop on an Alaskan cruise itinerary, and it offers a tantalizing contrast in cultures to explore! The best place to start your adventure first is Totem Bight State Park, where you can discover and learn about Native American culture in Alaska, their totem poles, and enter one of their clan houses, brilliantly restored and preserved. Transport yourself into the amazing culture of the native Americans of Alaska!

Richly decorated totem pole

Totem Poles

Totem poles served a variety of different purposes. In front of a clan house, it could serve as an “address” marker, much like our address number and street. Others convey local legends, or honor a local clan. And others serve as grave markers, much like cemetery stones. Whatever the purpose, all of these monuments are beautiful works of art to be cherished. Do you want to better understand Native American cultures? These totems and their iconography are a great place to start!

This one is akin to a cemetery stone

Totem Bight State Park

The totems are decorated in rich, bold colors and depict a wealth of different designs. Animals are abundant in totem design. At Totem Bight State Park there are many different types of totems to compare and contrast. And, if you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of a whale from the waterfront! When you visit the park, you’ll notice the totems are being restored in one of the buildings on-site. I was fascinated as I watched the process in action!

Welcome to Ketchikan sign near the port

Around the Port

The area around the port hosts many retail shops, and can be crowded when multiple cruise ships are docked. Many cruisers head straight for the cannabis store across the street. And it’s easy to be tempted by the many places selling preserved salmon. There are many benches out here to relax, and enjoy the views of the harbor. But perhaps the most interesting sight here at the port is “The Rock” statue.

“The Rock”

The Rock

According to the Ketchikan Story Project, “The Rock tells the story of how Alaska’s First City came to be. Six of the seven figures on the sculpture represents a prominent archetype in the city’s history – a fisherman, a miner, a logger, a bush pilot, a frontierswoman, a native drummer. The seventh represents an actual historic figure – Chief Johnson, a Tlingit who stands on top of ‘The Rock,’ symbolizing the fact that his people were the first to make their home in SE Alaska.” (

Fishing culture

Peaceful Fishing Village

Tour Ketchikan Alaska and you’ll quickly realize fishing is a vital component of the Alaskan culture. And there is no shortage of evidence of this here near the port of Ketchikan. Boats bob peacefully along the docks in a “skyline” of masts at the port, while beyond them brightly colored wooden houses dot the shoreline, and towering dark green mountains are nestled in puffs of mist and clouds behind them. I found the scene charming and perfect, in a picture-postcard kind of way.

Creek Street Boardwalk

Creek Street Boardwalk

Another not-to-be-missed attraction in Ketchikan is the historic Creek Street Boardwalk. It can be a challenge to navigate – attracting hoards of eager tourists – but it is well worth the effort. Here wooden houses in a rainbow of colors sit upon a lengthy boardwalk creek front, where miniature waterfalls provide a chance to witness leaping salmon. There is history here, including “Dolly’s House,” a brothel from 1919. Of course, retail shopping opportunities abound as well, given the crowds. Salmon leap in the river below, if you’re here in season. The locals sure know how to put on a show here!

So tour Ketchikan Alaska! Ketchikan is quirky and wild, a place of great contrasts, and an excellent place to start your Alaskan journey! You can view my tour of Ketchikan here:!

For more on Alaska, visit my post on Skagway here.

And if you’d like to learn more about Ketchikan, check out the official tourist site here. To find and book a great Alaska tour, visit Viator here! (This is an affiliate link and I may earn a commission to help fund this blog, at NO cost to you. I never promote companies I don’t personally use and endorse.)

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