Ketchikan calls itself the Salmon Capital of the World, so I searched its gushing rivers and creeks lined with blankets of velvet green, but only found last season’s salmon skeletons. Of course I must admit, it was only the 21st May and the salmon obviously weren’t about to change their schedules to suit my travel plans.
Had I arrived in Ketchikan in the next month or so, I would have been privy to one of the most intriguing natural shows in water – king salmon, sockeye salmon, pink and silver salmon flitting, jumping, sliding and swimming their way upstream, all fiercely determined to reach the spawning grounds at the top of the river.
Each species of salmon runs on its own time frame and each salmon returns to the stream in which it was born. It is difficult to imagine how these tough salmon jump rocks to go uphill in a desperate bid to complete their journey. Some salmon travel thousands of miles to return to their home stream, and only the fittest and most determined fish survive.
While they arrive exhausted and depleted, they still summon enough energy to get the girl and ensure their genes live on. So while I didn’t see the salmon, a gentleman who owned a store near the river was kind enough to take an hour out of his time to explain the incredible feats of the Alaskan salmon.
Luckily for the traveler, the salmon aren’t the only draw card in beautiful Ketchikan. Being a quirky delightful and pretty Alaskan town, a lot of fun can be had by exploring this place on foot.
The famous Creek Street was built alongside a rushing river fringed by the greenest moss and foliage I have ever seen, and its quaint shopping village is a tourist haven. But while the stores are packed with funny tourist t-shirts plastered with bears, moose and salmon doing strange things, the buildings still maintain character and charm.
Allow at least half a day to wander the streets of Ketchikan (although it is easy to spend a whole day). If you are on a budget and still want to see more, consider catching the bus for the short trip to Totem Bight State Park.
Totem Park consists of fourteen totem poles, known as the silent storytellers, which have been beautifully crafted with symbolic characters by Alaskan artists. Allow an hour to take your time to walk the area, see the clan house and admire the craftsmanship on the totem poles.
Of course if you want to splash out some more cash, you could always take a boat or plane to the Misty Fjords and catch some dreamy scenery. But the town of Ketchikan itself is well worth spending the day exploring, and I must confess, I fell a little in love with historic and vibrant Ketchikan and only wish I had more time there.
Location: Ketchikan is the first city reached by those cruising north along the inside passage of Alaska.
Top Tips for Ketchikan:
- Wear good walking shoes and walk Creek Street and the rest of this gorgeous town – it is easy to spend an entire day doing so.
- If you want to see the salmon, check the times they are expected in town first. Different types of salmon will be expected at different times. Best months for viewing: from June to August.