Exploring Ketchikan, AK

The Last Frontier’s First City

Ketchikan has a lot to offer. Our community is known for fishing, seaplanes, scenic landscape, the arts, wildlife, and rain. We’re very proud of our home, and enjoy helping visitors get the most out of their time in town. Below you’ll find areas of interest to help guide you through the local businesses, museums, restaurants, excursions, non-profits, and community events that we recommend.

Salmon Capital of the World

Mining, Timber, Fishing, and Tourism have been main industries since the end of the 19th century

  • 100 sunny days a year
  • Average rainfall 150 inches
  • Average temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 8,100 year round population
  • 1,000,000 visitors a year, can be over 10,000 a day off the cruise ships

Exploring Ketchikan

Over 140 years, a lot has changed in Ketchikan.
Our way of life is a little different, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Baranof fishing offers top rate fishing excursions

Ever rooted in fishing, the Ketchikan area was first popular for salmon with the local Natives. As a mining camp, our community began growing into what it is today, but with a few twists and turns along the way. As you explore Ketchikan, you’ll find evidence of our industrial past as a timber town, fishing community, mining outpost, and tourism destination. Our unique landscape has often dictated our geographical growth as our population booms as new industries took hold required more usable land in a location that, to put it lightly, isn’t very flat. For the most part, if you want to build a level building or home, you’re blowing up rock or driving pilings. You may not notice it at first, but a lot of the streets, avenues, and paths you’ll take through our town have fish swimming below them.

Ketchikan is also noted as a community dedicated to the arts. Native American wood carvings, local painters and other artists, ballet, theatre, and musical productions are a major part of local culture. Throughout the year you’ll find productions of popular and classic plays and performances, cabaret, ballet, and art walks and galleries. Not to be left behind, our fashion aficionados also put on a yearly “wearable arts” show that features ensembles from tasteful to bizarre. While there is plenty of the tongue-in-cheek art one might expect from a town historically steeped in the more rough-and-tumble aspect of a frontier community, our natural splendor has inspired artists throughout the years in creating truly breathtaking pieces. But nothing tops the totem poles. Whether the 18th century example found at the Totem Heritage center, or the more recent examples found throughout town, the local Native American masterpieces are a defining feature of our waterfront community.

Ketchikan culture, and our community, are unique. The local Native American influence, combined with a century and a half of entrepreneurs, loggers, bush pilots, miners, fishermen, and seasonal tourism workers has created a local identity all its own. Xtratuf boots are a necessity, while umbrellas are shunned. Children learning how to drive a boat before a car is common, and you won’t meet very many folks that haven’t been on a plane. Fly-bys for departed pilots are a somber but appreciated farewell when a local pilot passes on. With our population fluctuating between less than 9,000 in the winter months (mid-October until mid-April, there is no spring or fall here…) and about 25,000 in the summer, we either seem like we’re busting at the seams or a ghost town. As proud as we are of our unique community, its easy to see why we’re such a popular travel destination; we love our home and take pride in sharing that passion with others.