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Holland America Cruise Tours  Ketchikan, Alaska

ALASKA'S FIRST CITY

This southern-most Alaskan port of call is known as "Alaska's First City" because it's the first major community travelers come to as they traveled north. Founded as a fishing camp, Ketchikan is built on steep hillsides and is billed as the salmon capital of the world. A quaint village, the town is just three miles long and three blocks wide. With fishing boats sailing in and float planes ascending from the water, this seaside town is bustling with activity.

Ketchikan, Alaska's fourth largest city, is only roughly three square miles in area, with a population of over 8,000 year-round residents. The breathtaking beauty of Ketchikan's landscape brings many people back again and again; but if that isn't enough, being Alaska's Native Cultural Centre and sport fishing capital surely will.

As the "Salmon Capital of the World", Ketchikan boasts plenty of King, Silver, Red, Pink, and Chum abound in the waters surrounding Ketchikan and Prince of Wales Island. The canneries are busy and the stream below Creek Street's rustic boardwalk bustles with life. Fishing is also excellent for halibut, red snapper, and cod. Freshwater fishing in area lakes and streams reveal dolley varden, grayling, steelhead, rainbow, and cutthroat trout.

Ketchikan offers a unique cultural experience for visitors. Approximately 16% of Ketchikan's population is made up of Alaskan Natives, which makes it one of Alaska's most distinctive communities. As a result, Ketchikan is home to one of the largest collection of totem poles in the world. The magnificent works of art are located at Totem Bight State Historical Park, Saxman Native Village, and the Totem Heritage Center.

You can visit the ancient grove of Totem Bight, the largest collection of authentic totem poles anywhere, or make a flight to nearby Misty Fjords--a breathtaking vista of Alaska's unspoiled wilderness and America's newest national monument; or try a little salmon fishing. This pristine wilderness encompasses over 3,570 square miles within Tongass National Forest. Ketchikan's spectacular landscape is due in part to its diverse weather conditions. Ketchikan is known for its roughly 13.5 feet of precipitation annually. It is known as the rainiest city in North America.

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Ketchikan Attractions

Adventures and Leisure
Whether you're searching for adventure or relaxation, Ketchikan has many options, including a mountain bike tour of the George Inlet and kayaking around the Tatoosh Islands. You can even ride a seaplane for an exploration of the Misty Fjords National Monument. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, stroll down the boardwalk of Creek Street, Ketchikan's most famous and photographed section. With its historic cable car and quaint boutiques, Creek Street is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

New Archangel Dancers
This dance troupe is a very energetic group of all women dancers. They play all the required parts including those of bearded men if the story requires it. The troupe was organized in 1969 with much ridicule and pooh-poohing from the male population who said the idea would never work. By the time the men of the town realized that it could work and that they maybe would join after all, the women decided that they didn't need the men and kept the show all female.

Breathtaking Vistas
Blessed with an abundance of hiking trails, Ketchikan offers many breathtaking vistas, including the panoramic, 360-degree view from the top of Deer Mountain. More experienced hikers will appreciate the trails that lead to picturesque Blue Lake and John Mountain.

Creek Street, Ketchikan, AlaskaCreek Street
Creek Street, with its small houses built on stilts over the creek, was formerly Ketchikan's infamous red-light district. Since 1954, when prostitution became illegal, most of the houses have been converted to trendy little shops. The most famous brothel, known as Dolly's House, has been preserved as a museum right down to the original furnishings and a short history of Ketchikan's most famous madam. The boardwalk starts at 203 Steadman Street, just upstream from the Thomas Basin boat harbor. During the season, salmon can be viewed from the boardwalk.

Southeast Alaska Visitor Center
Three large totem poles greet you as you enter the lobby. Here you will find exhibits and audiovisual programs on native culture, Alaska's ecosystems, and the local industries. Located one block from the cruise ship dock, in downtown Ketchikan.

Saxman Village
Experience the rich living culture of the southeast Alaska's Native Americans. The Tlingits welcome guests in the traditional style that defines the culture of Southeast Alaska. Visit Saxman Totem Park, one of the largest gatherings of totems in the world. Immerse yourself in Tlingit culture, song and dance, and they will unravel the mysteries of the towering, majestic poles.

Built in 1848, the original structure burned in 1966, only to be replaced by a replica a decade later. Ketchikanns, whether Russian Orthodox or not, formed a human chain and rescued many of the cathedral's precious icons, paintings, vestments, and jeweled crowns from the flames.

Tongass Historical Museum
The museum features a small collection of local and indigenous artifacts, many related to Ketchikan's fishing past. The Raven Stealing the Sun totem pole stands at the front of the museum. The city of Ketchikan commissioned the totem to honor the Tlingit people.

Totem Heritage CenterKetchikan, Alaska Totem Heritage Center
The Totem Heritage Center has an extensive display of weathered, original totem carvings some more than a century old. It may well be the world's largest collection. These totem poles were salvaged from deserted Tlingit communities and restored. At the center you will find a central gallery with indigenous art and a model of a traditional native fishing camp. And if you have still have not had your fill of totem poles, more can be found at the Saxman Native Village, 2.5 miles south of Ketchikan. Here you can take a tour of a tribal house and catch performances of traditional Native Alaskan dances and rituals.

Totem Bight State Historical Park
With the world's largest collection of totem poles, Totem Bight State Historical Park offers insight into various native cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Much of the history of people like the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian is not entirely known, but some of the elaborate poles help convey their stories. In the absence of written language, these wood-carved creations tell colorful, intricate tales - often showing a family's history or depicting a local legend

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Ketchikan Wildlife

When you visit Ketchikan, you will have the unique opportunity to witness the myriad of Alaskan wildlife that the area has to offer. Both brown bear and black bears are common in Southeast Alaska. Sitka black-tailed deer, wolves, mountain goats, elk, moose, beaver, mink, marten, wolverines and river otters are other common mammals found in the area. Orca and humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, seals and sea ducks are at home in ocean waters.

The southeast Alaska ecosystem also is habitat for large numbers of birds, ranging from hummingbirds and trumpeter swans to herons and an incredible number of bald eagles. Keep an eye out for the eagles along streams and shorelines, where they are most likely to feed. Wildlife viewing is available year-round in the area, particularly in the Misty Fiords National Monument and Wilderness within Tongass National Forest.

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