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Exploring Ketchikan’s Off the Beaten Path: 10 Unique Experiences

Ketchikan, Alaska, is a small fishing town nestled in the Tongass National Forest. With a stunning backdrop of majestic mountains, dense forests and glistening waterways, it’s no surprise that Ketchikan is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. But what about the off the beaten path experiences? Here are 10 of the best-kept secrets in Ketchikan.

1. Take a Water Taxi to Cranberry Island

Cranberry Island is a secluded spot located in the Tongass Narrows, just a few miles from downtown Ketchikan. The island is accessible only by water taxi, and it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You can explore the island’s beautiful beaches and hike its trails, or simply spend the day relaxing in the sun. And don’t forget to bring your camera—Cranberry Island is a photographer’s paradise.

The water taxi to Cranberry Island departs from the Harbormaster’s office in downtown Ketchikan. The cost of the trip is $65 per person, and it’s a great way to get away from it all and explore Ketchikan’s hidden gems.

2. Take a Kayak Tour of the Inside Passage

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore the Inside Passage, then a kayak tour is the perfect choice. A guided kayak tour will take you through Ketchikan’s sheltered waterways and tidal creeks, where you can observe a variety of wildlife and explore the area’s rich cultural history.

Kayak tours typically last around three hours and cost between $80 and $100 per person. They are an excellent way to experience the beauty of the Inside Passage and get a closer look at Ketchikan’s wildlife and natural wonders.

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3. Take a Whale Watching Cruise

Ketchikan is home to a variety of whales, including humpback, orca and gray whales. A whale watching tour is the best way to see these majestic creatures up close. Cruise boats depart from Ketchikan harbor several times a day, and the tour usually lasts around three hours.

These cruises are a great way to learn about Ketchikan’s whales and their habitats, and you might even get lucky and spot a pod of orcas! Prices start at $80 per person and the cost includes snacks and drinks.

4. Visit the Totem Heritage Center

Ketchikan is known for its unique art and culture, and the Totem Heritage Center is the perfect place to experience it. The center houses a collection of carvings, masks and artifacts from the region’s Tlingit and Haida tribes. You can explore the exhibits at your own pace or take a guided tour of the center.

The Totem Heritage Center is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free. This is a great way to learn about the culture and history of the region, and it’s a must-visit for any visitor to Ketchikan.

5. Explore the Misty Fjords National Monument

The Misty Fjords National Monument is one of Alaska’s most spectacular natural wonders. Located near Ketchikan, this stunning area is home to majestic mountains, cascading waterfalls and lush forests. It’s also a great place to spot wildlife, such as bald eagles and black bears.

The best way to experience the Misty Fjords is by boat. There are several tour companies in Ketchikan that offer cruises of the area, and prices start at $90 per person. This is a great way to explore the beauty of the Misty Fjords and get a unique perspective of Ketchikan.

6. Take a Zipline Tour

Ketchikan is home to several zipline courses, and they are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area. You’ll soar through the air on a series of cables, zip over treetops and get a bird’s eye view of the Tongass National Forest.

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Most zipline tours last around two hours and cost between $60 and $90 per person. This is a great way to get an adrenaline rush and take in the stunning views of Ketchikan.

7. Take a Flightseeing Tour

Ketchikan is known for its stunning views, and the best way to experience them is by taking a flightseeing tour. You’ll soar over Ketchikan’s majestic mountains, glacial valleys, and wild rivers. You’ll also get a unique perspective of the city itself and get a glimpse of the wildlife that calls this area home.

Flightseeing tours typically last an hour and cost around $200 per person. This is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of Ketchikan and see the area from a different perspective.

8. Visit the Ketchikan Rainforest Sanctuary

The Ketchikan Rainforest Sanctuary is a unique and beautiful spot located in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. This sanctuary is home to a variety of plants and animals, and it’s the perfect place to explore the local flora and fauna. You can take a self-guided tour of the sanctuary or join a guided tour.

The Ketchikan Rainforest Sanctuary is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free. This is a great way to explore the Tongass National Forest and get a closer look at the plants and animals that call this area home.

9. Take a Hike to Deer Mountain

Deer Mountain is one of Ketchikan’s most popular hiking destinations. The trail is a moderate 5-mile roundtrip hike, with stunning views of the Tongass National Forest and the Inside Passage. The trail is well-marked, and it’s an excellent way to experience the beauty of Ketchikan’s wilderness.

The hike to Deer Mountain is free, but you’ll need to bring your own food, water and supplies. This is a great way to get some exercise and experience the natural beauty of Ketchikan.

10. Visit the Saxman Native Village

The Saxman Native Village is a living museum of Tlingit culture. You can explore the village’s totem poles, longhouses and carvings, and learn about the region’s rich cultural history. You can also buy traditional Tlingit crafts and jewelry.

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The Saxman Native Village is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission is free. This is a great way to learn about the culture and history of the region and get a unique perspective of Ketchikan.

Summary

Ketchikan is a small fishing town in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. While it’s a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path experiences to enjoy in Ketchikan. From kayaking through the Inside Passage to exploring the Misty Fjords National Monument, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a chance to relax, Ketchikan has something for everyone.