July 30, 2018

Vacation Roundup: Ketchikan, Alaska

Well, if you don't want to see vacation pictures... umm... you should probably pick another blog to read this week. Wanted to write a few Alaska vacation posts for posterity's sake, and well, that's going down for the next few days... starting now. if you're new to the game and want to see a bit of our pre-cruise side trip to Mount Rainier, go back in time HERE.

Ketchikan, Alaska

So after a day at sea, our first port was Ketchikan, Alaska. Evidently Alaska's first city, it's also very, very touristy, at least down by the cruise ship docks. Souvenir store after souvenir store after souvenir store. While those couldn't be avoided, I did try to point the camera in the other direction, so show off some of the less "in-your-face" scenery.

Back to the touristy stuff...

Our morning in town took us on a tour bus for a twenty or so minute ride to the "Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary." There we were led on a guided tour of part of the Tongass National Forest...

Our guide, Shannon, explaining banana slugs

A juvenile bald eagle

We saw a lot of bald eagles, but they were all at a distance

After the walking tour, we stopped by Tsimshian master totem carver Wayne Hewson's workshop. He was working on a pole that was going to tell the story of the spider. He also had a furry friend pop in as he was demonstrating the hand tools used on the pole.

The non-profit Alaska Raptor Center also had a small satellite operation on premises, and we were able to finally see a bald eagle up close. This beautiful bird, unfortunately, suffered an injury to its wing so it will not be able to return to the wild. There were other birds as well, including a hawk & owl.

Directly outside the complex were more of Wayne's totems, as well as Bifrost Blacksmithing, a two-man team of metalworkers that utilize reclaimed materials and turn them into beautiful knives and jewelry.

Once our tour concluded, we were brought back to downtown and were left on our own for a few hours. We spent a bit of the time in the Tongass Historical Museum, which was exactly what it sounds like, a display of Ketchikan's history, primarily through the dual lenses of the native Alaskans and the late 1800s salmon industry.

A steel sculpture around a bear skull

Artwork of Ketchikan resident Ray Troll,
his work is also available in town at Soho Coho.

After the museum, we spent the rest of our time in Ketchikan casually walking up and down Creek Street popping in shops and taking in the sights. Creek Street was pretty interesting as it was all elevated on a boardwalk above a creek that ran below. The creek was full of salmon and featured a fish ladder at the upper end. It was fun watching the fish swimming in the creek from above. We were even surprised by a harbor seal.

Once upon a time, Creek Street was considered the "red light" district of town, and many of the signs of the stores reflected that... um, heritage.

We were basically in Ketchikan for about seven hours, but they went by pretty fast. We did a lot in a little bit of time but didn't feel rushed. We even had time to stop and get some lunch. Although I didn't take a picture, if somebody offers you King Crab tacos, don't say no...

On the way back to the boat, there was a Sasquatch sighting... but like everyone else down by the docks, he was just trying to sell you something...

Bon voyage Ketchikan... next stop, Juneau...

2018 Vacation Posts
Seattle | Ketchikan | Juneau | Skagway | Victoria | Seattle II


  1. There are two supposed local sayings, from back in the day, about Creek Street “It's where more men – than fish – went upstream to spawn!!” or “Creek Street, where both fish and fisherman went upstream to spawn.” (Though I haven't found attribution or absolute verification.) Good that you got out of town; we spent time touring Saxman Totem Park. Two totems stand out. One that recognizes Abraham Lincoln's efforts to help protect the Tlingit people. Another, with a lack carvings, is a "diss" against William Seward, who never reciprocated for the Tlingit chief's generosity.

    1. That's awesome, we didn't get to the totem park, although we did see it from the road as we drove past. The humor in that town is great!

  2. Since I'll probably never get up there, I look forward to your next stops. It's always nice to take a tour through a friends blog. Did I see C3PO in the 28th picture?

    1. OK, I'll keep posting then!
      No C3PO, just some old-school diving equipment. I'm actually impressed you made it to the 28th picture!

  3. Mike, you certainly know how to throw a vacation! This little trip of yours is my dream come true. Like Mark, I'll probably never really get a chance to go, so thanks for the running narrative and beautiful photos.