Alaska Journey Continues to Ketchikan

This is part 2 of a multi-part series of articles about travel among the parklands of Alaska written by Nancy Bandley.

Ketchikan Alaska : Eugeniy Kalinin PhotoWe got as far as Southeast Alaska last time and through one port, Skagway, so this time we will take up another one, Ketchikan.

Billed as Alaska's First City, it is about 500 miles from Seattle. And the closest to Misty Fjords National Monument, which is not managed by the National Park Service, but rather the National Forest Service. It covers 3,750 acres of wild land, made up of 3,000 foot cliffs and picturesque coves, rocky beaches and hemlock forests, mineral springs and lava flows. Accessed only by boat or floatplane, as there are no roads in this monument. Populated by bald eagles, brown bear ( grizzly ), black bear, Sitka white tailed deer, and wolves. In the water are whales, seals, sea lions and porpoise. In addition, smaller land animals include marten, mink , beaver, wolverine and river otter. Fishing would include a catch of salmon, char, greyling, and trout. As it is only 22 miles from Ketchikan, it is an easy, but expensive, trip to take a float plane and experience this magical forest.

In Ketchikan, at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, there is a very good presentation of Misty Fjords National Monument., as well as surrounding Tongass Forest. A great "get acquainted" visit, if you have the time. The town is quite small and easily walked, populated with bald eagles nearly everywhere you look, and lots of Totem Poles throughout. First there is downtown, with shops, malls, and restaurants, then the Discovery Center and next to it the Great Alaska Lumberjack show. You can walk up the hill to the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Eagle Center, which is around $2.00-$3.00 admission. The centerpiece of Ketchikan is Creek Street, built on wooden boardwalks over Ketchikan Creek, it used to house the bars and bordellos of the rowdy town. Now replaced with boutiques and shops, you can still tour Dolly's House. The famous madam, who plied her trade into her 80's. If you visit in September, the Salmon are running and you can watch them navigate the steep gorges of Ketchikan Creek, jumping from one rock to another to clear waterfalls. There is a funicular to Cape Fox Lodge hotel located high above the town. Great for lunch with a view.

Just south of town, is the Alaskan Rainforest Sanctuary, with it's daring "canopy tours" using zip lines to soar over the forest. Or more sedentary is a visit to the George Inlet Cannery with displays of 1940's equipment and a history lesson on canning. Ketchikan is billed as the Salmon Capital of the World due to the many canneries located here.

stay tuned next Friday for Juneau ...