Ketchikan on our own

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#1
New York
14 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We are a couple in our mid-40's sailing on the Volendam in July (without our kids!)......

We are spending our shore excursion budget on excursions in Juneau and Skagway. We would like to be able to spend our day in Ketchikan on our own.

Do any of you experienced cruisers have suggestions for what we can do in Ketchikan inexpensively and on our own? We like walking and hiking, and pretty much anything else. Any suggestions are most welcome!

Thank you.
#2
Kansas, the Heartland of America
5,955 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
We have done Ketchikan a few times on our own. At the dock (or on the Ketchikan web site, google "walking map") you can certainly hit many of the highlights by walking.
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#3
Bethlehem, PA
4,675 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Or rent a car and see the sights on your own - that is what we're doing. Great use of time in port and getting away from the crowds. You could do the walking tour first, then hop in your car and go. Some nice parks located at the end of the road for hiking and great views. There is also a very inexpensive public bus that will take you out of town to the Totem Parks. Google Ketchikan and order one of their Visitor's brochures for other ideas.
#4
Crown Isle, BC & Fort Mohave, AZ
26,718 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
You can take transit buses to both Totem Bite and Saxman Village. Throw in a walk around town, Creek Street and you have a pretty full day.


http://www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/bus/info.htm
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#5
Central Florida, USA
1,314 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Originally posted by Putterdude
You can take transit buses to both Totem Bite and Saxman Village. Throw in a walk around town, Creek Street and you have a pretty full day.


http://www.borough.ketchikan.ak.us/bus/info.htm
I have actually visited Saxman by city bus, but we couldn't go inside any of the buildings to look around and take pictures without paying admission. Wonder if anyone else had this experience? On the other hand, we did get some great photos of totem poles on the outside for no cost at all, other than the bus fare.
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#6
Dangling from a moose's antlers
1,729 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
Originally posted by Orlando Vic
I have actually visited Saxman by city bus, but we couldn't go inside any of the buildings to look around and take pictures without paying admission. Wonder if anyone else had this experience? On the other hand, we did get some great photos of totem poles on the outside for no cost at all, other than the bus fare.
Yes, it's private property. So if you want to go in and take pictures you have to pay the admission.
#7
New Mexico
858 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
You can take a funicular that goes up a hill to a hotel(small fee to ride). There are totems at the top of the hill. You can walk down the hill on the Married Man trail and through Creek Street. There are many stores and historical things to see there.
http://creekstreetketchikan.com/

If you are there at the right time, you can see salmon in the river and on a ladder there.
http://cruises.about.com/od/alaskacr...ikan-Creek.htm

There is also a fish hatchery (small fee to enter). There is also a lumberjack show right in town, and it doesn't seem like it cost a lot for the show.

http://lumberjackshows.com/
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#8
Crown Isle, BC & Fort Mohave, AZ
26,718 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by Orlando Vic
I have actually visited Saxman by city bus, but we couldn't go inside any of the buildings to look around and take pictures without paying admission. Wonder if anyone else had this experience? On the other hand, we did get some great photos of totem poles on the outside for no cost at all, other than the bus fare.
Yes you have to pay admission..as I recall it is a couple of dollars p/p but even that doesn't guarantee you admission to the longhouse or the carvers' shed/studio.
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#9
San Pedro, CA
313 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Do any of you experienced cruisers have suggestions for what we can do in Ketchikan inexpensively and on our own? We like walking and hiking, and pretty much anything else.
Ketchikan is a great walking town. You can start at your cruise ship and do a great 'downtown loop' that is only about 2-3 miles, seeing most of the downtown area. There is a downloadable/printable Walking Tour Map here that you can check out before you arrive.

As Marie321 mentioned, you can see Creek Street, the Salmon Ladder, walk to City Park and if you're interested, can go inside the Totem Heritage Center ($5/ea) or the Fish Hatchery & Eagle Rehabilitation Center ($12/ea) or there is a combo ticket for $15 for both of them.

There are a couple great hiking opportunities, within a mile or two from downtown. The Deer Mountain Trail begins from near City Park, though up a fairly steep road that will definitely get your blood pumping. The trail is a medium difficult one, with a large elevation gain before you get stunning panoramic views at the 1 mile mark. But it's so worth it!!! You're walking through the rainforest which is also gorgeous. The road to get to the trailhead is steep & long, I would suggest a cab ride to the trailhead.

The 2nd is my personal favorite - Carlanna Lake Road Trail, located in the main section of town more, definitely a cab ride required. But you start out on a short (5-10 minutes) steep logging road and then crest to a gorgeous lake that is surrounded by rainforest & mountains. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Or, if you wish to rent a car, like Assateague Island Princes suggested, your options open wide up to get out of town & really experience the town. I would highly suggest going to Ward Lake Trail, an easy, level path that walks around a lake about 6 miles outside of town.

I think if you're in Ketchikan, you MUST see at least one of the Totem Pole Parks in town (there are 3!) Totem Bight State Historic Park & Potlatch Park are located on the North End of town, accessible by the public transit system (bus) for $2/person round trip. The NEW bus schedule just came out this weekend. Click here... Both parks are free of charge and you are welcome inside Carving Shed & Clan Houses. If you're going to Totem Bight, be sure & download & print the map & descriptions on the Totem Poles, located here.

Saxman Native Village is on the South end of town and is also accessible by the bus. While the totem pole viewing is free, as Orlando Vic said, you cannot access any of the buildings or Carving shed without paying admission, which is less than $5. If you're going there, be sure & download & print the map & descriptions on the Totem Poles, located here.

Oh! And if you're not into jumping on a bus to go to the Totem Poles, you can also see a great showing of poles in the downtown area, or also up at Cape Fox Lodge (which also has some great native artifacts). All of those are free too!

Since you're coming in July, you'll be able to see the hordes of Salmon swimming up Ketchikan Creek, and jumping around in Thomas Basin Marina, a very picturesque area in town.

Enjoy!
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We rest here while we can, but we hear the ocean calling in our dreams, and we know by morning, the wind will fill our sails to test the seams. A calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, for ships are safe at harbor, but that's not what ships are for. - Michael Lille
#10
Issaquah, WA
294 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
I'm not sure how it will work out, but our plan this year is to do the walking tour. I actually downloaded a 31-stop tour (from the Ketchikan web site, if I reacall) that we intend to use on my iPod with a "y" jack. We'll probably skip some, but it seems that there is narration describing everything. Maybe rditton knows about this? If so, I hope it's good. It was $25 to download.
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#12
Issaquah, WA
294 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
It is on the visit-Ketchikan.com web site in an ad at the bottom. I figure the iPod eliminates the need for carrying a tour book along. They say there is an average of 4 minutes of commentary at each stop, so we wouldn't want to spend that much time total probably, but we can pick and choose easily, skipping ahead when desired. I'll get one of the walking tour maps, also.
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#13
Surprise Arizona
1,280 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Thanks Rditton, great suggestions
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#14
Issaquah, WA
294 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
After our "discussion" I went ahead and uploaded the walking tour audio guide to my iPod and checked it out. It corresponds to the walking tour from the visitors center listed by rditton (I ditto my thanks for your info), and we will pick up the map. The audio tour gives interesting historical and current info on the sites, and there are several narrators to keep it interesting. There is also nice music in the background. It does NOT give directions, so the map would be essential.
Just an aside from our previous trip: do stop at the Tongass Forest Museum adjacent to the library. It is very informative. There are vignettes by each of the federal agencies involved, such as forestry, fisheries, mining, etc. and really gives a lot of background. We are eager to see it again.
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#15
Missouri
3 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Thank you for all of the wonderful links rditton!! My family and I will be traveling to AK in a few short weeks. We are traveling with Disney as we will have our three small children with us. Anything we should avoid that is not kid friendly?
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#16
San Pedro, CA
313 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Yep, RoupMom, you're correct. It correlates directly to the Walking Tour Map that is given free at the Ketchikan Visitor's Bureau. The audio can be downloaded from this site:

http://adventureaudiotours.com/

I learned a lot when I listened to it! :-) As you said, since there's parts you'll skip or even listen to as you walk to the next spot but you can get a good feel of the spots you really want to know about and just skip to those! :-)

You mention the Tongass Museum. I think the spot you're talking about is actually the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. It is about a block and a 1/2 from the Library and is just as you describe - full of information about all of the industry from the area & details of the rainforest, some totem poles, info on the Alaska Natives, info on the goodies in the ocean & streams, etc. It's a great spot in town with tons of information. I believe it's $5/person for admission.

The Museum inside the Library is also good - with lots of historic photographs. Fascinating information.

Enjoy!
Rene
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We rest here while we can, but we hear the ocean calling in our dreams, and we know by morning, the wind will fill our sails to test the seams. A calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, for ships are safe at harbor, but that's not what ships are for. - Michael Lille
#17
San Pedro, CA
313 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
We are traveling with Disney as we will have our three small children with us. Anything we should avoid that is not kid friendly?
Nothing to avoid, even the old red light district that has 'Dolly's House' - I wouldn't say is not kid-friendly. It's interesting and maybe not your top stop but not to avoid. It's all interesting & fascinating.

Enjoy!
Rene
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We rest here while we can, but we hear the ocean calling in our dreams, and we know by morning, the wind will fill our sails to test the seams. A calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, for ships are safe at harbor, but that's not what ships are for. - Michael Lille
#18
New Orleans
42 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Originally posted by dss22
We are a couple in our mid-40's sailing on the Volendam in July (without our kids!)......

We are spending our shore excursion budget on excursions in Juneau and Skagway. We would like to be able to spend our day in Ketchikan on our own.

Do any of you experienced cruisers have suggestions for what we can do in Ketchikan inexpensively and on our own? We like walking and hiking, and pretty much anything else. Any suggestions are most welcome!

Thank you.
We just got off the Sapphire (2 couples in mid fifties). It was our 1st cruise. We went to the visitors center next to the docks. You can buy an all day bus pass for $2. Took the blue line to Totem Bight, which was awesome. Came back & took the red line to Saxman, which was terrible! What a waste. Don't waste your time or ...okay, it was only $5, but don't waste your time. I would rather have spent that time in town. Have fun
#20
233 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Thanks for the great info. 2 more ports to go!
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