Ketchikan is Alaska’s Gateway City and is perhaps most famous for its reputation as the Salmon Fishing Capital of the World. It is also home to a large population of Alaska’s Native people. The surrounding wilderness is blessed with lush rainforest, dramatic fjords, abundant salmon and equally abundant bears and eagles which dine on the salmon feast. Select from our unique Ketchikan shore excursions, or let us customize a Ketchikan experience just for you.
Bears at Anan Remote Observatory (4-hours)
Seeing bears in their natural habitat is a highlight of any trip to Alaska, but the opportunities are limited for cruising visitors—so we designed this private and exclusive adventure for you. Anan Creek is an ancient Tlingit native fishing site that has the largest pink salmon run in Southeast Alaska, attracting significant numbers of black and brown bears to feast on the bounty—it’s one of only a few places in the world where you can view both. Flying by private floatplane deep into Tongass National Forest, you’ll land on serene Anan Bay. From there, your naturalist guide will escort you on a half-mile hike along a boardwalk to a secure bear observatory overlooking a waterfall. From the viewing platform, you can look down on the fast flowing creek as it cascades towards the sea and large numbers of salmon head upstream to spawn. It’s no surprise that bears congregate here! Restricted access to the area, combined with interpretation by your bush pilot and guide, enhance this truly intimate experience.
This excursion offers a world-class fishing experience with a gourmet campsite lunch in the unspoiled wilderness of Alaska’s coastline. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides who will recount tales of Alaska’s early days—from the Ice Age geology to native culture, European and Russian explorers, gold seekers, and the early days of fishing and logging—you’ll glide into the wilderness on an open-air, 20-foot skiff. With just five guests aboard, your professional guide can customize the excursion to fit your interests and skill level. Hone your skills landing rockfish, red snapper, lingcod, or halibut. Along the way, watch for seals, eagles, whales, porpoise, spawning salmon, and possibly even bears. After fishing, you’ll head ashore, where a crackling fire awaits in the rain forest of ancient cedars and spruce. Enjoy a gourmet camp meal of your own freshly caught fish served atop a saffron-infused, bouillabaisse-inspired stew. Savor fire-warmed sourdough rolls, dessert, and steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate—all part of what Food and Wine magazine called “The best camp meal ever”.
Kayaks were invented by Alaska’s native people, and there is still no better way to explore than by means of these sleek and maneuverable crafts! This tour starts with a 20-minute powerboat ride from town to a remote location in the offshore islands. There, you meet your guides and kayaks in a protected cove and, after an orientation, paddle through a chain of islands—stopping whenever you are inspired to enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Mountains rise out of the ocean and the rainforest presses down to the shoreline, while the water is inhabited by seals, sea lions, Dall’s porpoise, orcas, humpbacks, and the occasional minke whale. You’ll pass several bald eagle nesting sites, and may see river otters, bear and Sitka Black Tail Deer along the shore. Sea birds are numerous, and the intertidal marine life visible underneath the kayaks offers a colorful display of starfish, sun stars, and sea cucumbers. At the end of the trip, you will enjoy a smoked salmon snack before the return to town.
Misty Fjords National Monument Adventure (1.5-hours)
The Misty Fjords National Monument has been carved to impressive perfection by millions of years of glacial activity. On this popular flightseeing tour, it will take you only a blink of an eye to appreciate nature’s handiwork. In fact, floatplane is really the only way to take in the majesty of this 2.3-million acre patch of pristine wilderness. You’ll soar above cliffs, sawtooth ridges blanketed in mist, sky-blue lakes, endless waterfalls, icy saltwater fjords, and miles of glacier-carved gorges. While you take in the enormity of the Misty Fjords National Monument from above, your bush pilot will be busy checking for wildlife below; creatures big and small are visible, and you may see anything from brown bears to agile mountain goats, harbor seals to humpback whales.
Today you will have the unique opportunity to meet local guide and Tlingit elder, Mr. Joe Williams, the former Mayor of Ketchikan and the Tlingit settlement of Saxman Village. Through his stories, you will learn about the Tlingit people and their traditions. To start, Mr. Williams will lead a one-hour walking tour of Ketchikan, including the main sights and with a focus on historic Creek Street and the importance of the creek to the early Native and white settlers. From there, you’ll travel by tram to the Cape Fox Lodge, a rustic hotel owned by the Tlingit where your guide will discuss Tlingit customs and traditions you’ll enjoy a delicious Tlingit-style snack of Indian fried bread, smoked salmon, reindeer sausage, and blueberry jam. Next, you will travel by car to Saxman Village, three miles from Ketchikan. Your guide will show you around the village, including Totem Row, the carving shed, and the Tribal House. Saxman’s world-famous carvers include Nathan Jackson, whose totems grace the entrances of the Bundestag in Germany and the Field Museum in Chicago.
This is the ultimate Ketchikan adventure—this trip combines paddling Orcas Cove with flightseeing over the Misty Fjords National Monument. The first part of your excursion will see you kayaking among spectacular wilderness scenery and wildlife. Stop where you are inspired, and listen to the hiss of water as your kayak glides past rainforest and bald eagle nesting sites. Hear the blow of a humpback whale and look up in wonder as porpoises leap by. When you’ve had your fill of kayaking, board the M/V Sea Spree for a smoked salmon picnic—then watch as a seaplane lands, taxis, and takes you on a flightseeing tour of Misty Fjord’s most dramatic scenery. Pristine wilderness views make way, closer to town, for the totem poles of Saxman Native Village, the town perched along the shore line, and the cruise ships waiting at the dock. As you make your way back to Ketchikan, your experienced bush pilot will land in Misty Fjords and allow you to step out onto the floats to take photos—an unforgettable experience.
On this private guided bear-watching safari, you’ll travel by floatplane to remote Prince of Wales Island, which boasts the highest black bear population in North America. En route, your pilot/guide will take you on a flying safari over a quiet watershed where you may see bears fishing for the spawning salmon that serve as a summer staple for all Alaskan mammals. Happily, Prince of Wales Island is not yet a popular destination, so your party and your pilot/guide will have an opportunity to enjoy these pristine surroundings without the crowds. The island’s overgrown logging areas and many salmon streams are exactly the habitat that bears require to flourish, so keep your eyes peeled! Enjoy this ultimate private shore excursion and experience lasting memories of Southeast Alaska’s remote wilderness.