Friday, July 22, 2016

Eagles, Totem Poles, Hiking and Charm in Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan, Alaska nestled in Alaskan rainforest.

Ketchikan, Alaska is one of the rainiest cities in North America. So, we were very fortunate to arrive during a rare dry and sunny day for Ketchikan. An ideal day for exploration!


Natural scenery at Totem Bight in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Spectacular scenery at Totem Bight.
The city is easy to navigate and there is plenty to do. If you arrive by cruise ship, you do not need to arrange a cruise tour unless there is something you are particularly set on. We experienced quite a bit on our own and saved a lot of money by not going on a cruise excursion. I do recommend stopping at the Welcome Center for orientation. The guide at the Welcome Center was incredibly friendly and help us plan out our day. Our goal was to visit Totem Bight, check out Creek Street and hike Rainbird Trail. With map in hand, we started on our way.

One of the totems commemorating Alaska's heritage at Totem Bight.
One of the gorgeous totems commemorating Alaska's heritage at Totem Bight.
Totem Bight:

Since Totem Bight would be our furthest point for the day, we headed there first. The park is about a 20-30 minute bus ride from city center. The bus is incredibly reasonable--$1 per person each way and $.50 for kids. Admission to Totem Bight is free, so definitely an affordable excursion! Totem Bight State Historical Park exemplifies efforts to preserve the heritage of the Alaska Natives. Alaska bursts with resources and the giant cedar totem poles reflect respect for these natural gifts. As the Natives began to move into larger communities to work, totem poles began to erode away into the landscape. The U.S. Forest Services launched a program in the 1930's to salvage these monuments as well as hire older Native carvers as well as train new carvers to help in preservation and future carvings. After Alaska gained statehood, the park came under the management of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources.

Replica clan house at Totem Bight in Ketchikan, Alaska
Interior of clanhouse.
In addition to learning about these intricate carvings, Totem Bight afforded us stunning views of Alaska and a tranquil rainforest walk. On the grounds, a replica of a clanhouse represents the type of community house that would be found in Native Alaskan villages of the 19th century. This particular size of structure would house about 30-50 people.

In Ketchikan Alaska, Creek Street structures are on stilts.
Charming buildings on Creek Street are on stilts.
Creek Street:

After exploring Totem Bight, we headed to Creek Street. Creek Street is an adorable historic section the city resting along picturesque Ketchikan Creek. Once the "red light district" of Ketchikan, the street is full of shops and provides for a pleasant aside. You will be bombarded with stores right when you depart from the cruise ship. However, I recommend waiting until visiting Creek Street to shop. We found the area calmer and easier to peruse. We also found it easier to find items made in Alaska to bring back. That being said, I do also recommend a stop at the Scanlon Art Gallery and Arctic Spirit Gallery where you can also find Alaskan art and pieces from Native craftsmen.

A walk along lovely Ketchikan Creek
Ketchikan Creek
We ambled along Ketchikan Creek for a bit before heading to Rainbird Trail. During certain times of the year, you can see salmon in the creek. We only looked for a brief moment but did not see any. Another time!

Stones steps of Rainbird Trail in Ketchikan, Alaska
Stones steps of Rainbird Trail
Rainbird Trail:

Deer Mountain Trail and Rainbird Trail are the two most notable trails you will probably hear about when planning a trip to Ketchikan. The Deer Mountain Trail is steeper and much longer than Rainbird Trail. Rainbird Trail is more manageable if you are visiting on a cruise. The trail does have a bit of climb and some of the path is rock. A walking stick may be beneficial for some hikers.

View from Rainbird Trail in Ketchikan, Alaska
View from Rainbird Trail in Ketchikan, Alaska
Spectacular views treat the eye!

Rainforest in Ketchikan, Alaska
Rainforest in Ketchikan, Alaska
Walking in the lush rainforest out our minds at ease! A wonderful cap to our day in Ketchikan. Oh, I forgot to mention--we saw bald eagles! We LOVED our visit to Ketchikan. Such a quaint city wrapped in magnificent scenery. A delightful beginning to our trip to Alaska!

Bald Eagle in Ketchikan, Alaska
Bald Eagle in Ketchikan, Alaska
Other experiences in Ketchikan:
  • Lumberjack Show
  • Tongass Prairie
  • Misty Fjords
  • Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary
**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
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