BEST WESTERN LANDING HOTEL Ketchikan
Inn at Creek St. and NY Hotel Ketchikan
Super 8 Motel Ketchikan
The Gilmore Hotel Ketchikan
The Narrows Inn Ketchikan
KETCHIKAN , five hundred miles north of Seattle, is Alaska's "first city," and as the first port
of call for many cruise ships, its historic downtown, wedged between water and forested mountains,
becomes saturated in summer with elderly tourists. Beyond the souvenir shopping it can be a delight,
built into steep hills and partly propped on wooden pilings, with boardwalks, wooden staircases and
totem poles dotted throughout.
By 1886, white settlers had opened the first of dozens of canneries in what was soon to be the
"salmon capital of the world." Forests of cedar, hemlock and spruce, which had provided timber
for Tlingit homes and totems, also fed the town's sawmills. The timber and fishing industries have
declined, and with the closure of the antiquated pulp mill in 1997 the town's economy is in a state of flux.
The state's fourth largest city is a strong contender for the nation's wettest; annual precipitation averages
165 inches. The tourist board shrugs it off as "liquid sunshine" and, indeed, Ketchikan's perennial drizzle
and sporadic showers won't spoil your visit .
The bulk of Ketchikan's historic buildings lie on Creek Street , a rickety-looking boardwalk along Ketchikan
Creek. This was a red-light district until 1954; now all the former houses of ill-repute are given over to gift
\shops and arty cafés. Dolly's House , 24 Creek St, once the home and workplace of Dolly Arthur, the town's
most famous madam, is now a small museum stuffed with saucy memorabilia.
Most of the totem poles you see around town are authentic replicas, but the Totem Heritage Center ,
601 Deermount St (daily 8am-5pm; $4), exhibits the largest collection of original totem poles in the
US: 33 mostly nineteenth-century examples recovered from abandoned Native villages. The Tlingit-run
Saxman Totem Park , three miles south of town, displays the world's largest standing collection of poles
and an authentic tribal house. Admission, including a chance to see sculptors at work, is free, but two-hour
guided tours (several daily) will help to decipher the images. Fourteen of the best replica totem poles
and a rebuilt tribal house stand in Totem Bight State Park , breathtakingly set on a forested strip of coast
overlooking the Narrows, ten miles north of town on the Tongass Highway. On the way back, take some time
out to do the easy but enjoyable boardwalk trail up to Perseverance Lake , starting at Ward Cove, four miles
north of town.
Twenty-two miles east of Ketchikan on the mainland, the awe-inspiring MISTY FIORDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
consists of 2.3 million acres of deep fjords flanked by sheer 3000ft glacially scoured walls topped by dense rainforest.
As befits its name, the monument is at its most atmospheric when swathed in low-lying mists. No roads lead here,
but the kayak and floatplane operators listed in "Arrival and information" do. Four-hour cruisein/fly-out tours are
run by Alaska Cruises (tel 907/225-6044 or 1-800/225-1905). Fourteen rustic cabins (mostly $35) are
rented out by the Forest Service (tel 1-877/444-6777).
OTHER POPULAR DESTINATIONS IN ALASKA
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Denali National Park