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Overview

Almost the southernmost point in Alaska, Ketchikan clings to its steep hills at a prime spot along the Inside Passage. The entire region was once a center for the Tlingit and other Native people. The town first grew to catch salmon that thrive in the local waters — today it thrives catching tourists from the dozens of cruise ships that dock here weekly in summer. Everything — including the wooden walkways clinging to the sides of the hills — seems a bit precarious in this sliver of land. In fact, the airport is on an island across the narrow channel from town. Once you've ridden the quick and delightful ferry across, you'll understand the ...

Almost the southernmost point in Alaska, Ketchikan clings to its steep hills at a prime spot along the Inside Passage. The entire region was once a center for the Tlingit and other Native people. The town first grew to catch salmon that thrive in the local waters — today it thrives catching tourists from the dozens of cruise ships that dock here weekly in summer. Everything — including the wooden walkways clinging to the sides of the hills — seems a bit precarious in this sliver of land. In fact, the airport is on an island across the narrow channel from town. Once you've ridden the quick and delightful ferry across, you'll understand the folly of the much derided $200 million "Bridge to Nowhere" that would have replaced it. Trails and walks allow the active to enjoy the raw scenery surrounding town and from the nearby peaks you can look across Southeast Alaska (when it's not raining that is, a near-daily occurrence). Museums make the most of Native heritage; you can see totem poles in several places and learn about the rich local ecology.

Ryan Ver Berkmoes
About the Expert

Ryan Ver Berkmoes has written many books for Lonely Planet, including Bali & Lombok and the Southeastern Alaska and Western Canada sections for LP's Canada guide.

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Ryan Ver Berkmoes for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring through early fall have the best weather but other times are less crowded and just as rainy.