Should You Visit Ketchikan?

Are you thinking about visiting Ketchikan, Alaska? Here's what you need to know before planning your trip.


Is Ketchikan worth visiting?

This town is a good place to visit for one to three days. Ketchikan is an Alaskan town on the Inside Passage that has grown from a local fishing village into a popular cruise ship port. It's a huge fishing destination, particularly salmon fishing, and there is also a local culture that is unique and fascinating. Native American totem poles are a common sight around the town, which is set against the backdrop of snowcapped mountains. You'll find lots of wildlife and salmon spawning streams that ensure the town feels quintessentially Alaskan.

Ketchikan, Alasak Ketchikan, Alasak

Reasons to Visit Ketchikan

Food
It's known as the salmon capital of the world for good reason. You can expect some of the freshest seafood around with many local restaurants serving up fresh Dungeness Crab, Alaska King Crab, and Alaskan King Salmon. It's a huge fishing destination and the cuisine reflects that, but even if you're looking for a landlover's menu, you'll find a number of good dishes.

Hiking
You'll find many hikes that will take you through the local vegetation or to impressive viewpoints. Some hikes involve challenging climbs while others are more relaxing. Some visitors prefer to hire a guide to the lead them through the Alaskan wilderness, but the most popular and easier trails are usually well marked.

Museums
There are a few local museums in town such as the Tongass Historical Museum and the Totem Heritage Center.

Shopping
As tourism has grown, the shopping in downtown Ketchikan has shifted from locally-oriented venders to jewelry and souvenir stores. Many shops are only open during the summer months, and you'll find the more local shops outside of town.




Is Ketchikan worth visiting in the Summer?

The high season for travel in Ketchikan is the summer, so expect to see more tourists than usual. This destination is quite popular with tourists, and in the high season it's even busier than usual as this is when most people like to visit. Expect crowds to be large, and prices to be a bit higher than normal. However, there's plenty to do here this time of year, too.

Keep in mind that it can be fairly rainy during summer, and temperatures hover around 15°C (58°F).

The nearby hiking this time of year is a must-do, so take some time to get out on the trails, take in some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. You'll also find it quite easy to get around on foot, because this is a very walkable town, especially in the nice weather. During this season it's fun to experience the small town charm, the hiking, and the famous sights and museums.


Summer Weather in Ketchikan
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
July 15°C (58°F) 193 mm (7.6 in)
August 15°C (59°F) 281 mm (11.1 in)
September 12°C (54°F) 335 mm (13.2 in)

Is Ketchikan worth visiting in the Autumn?

The weather in Ketchikan can be quite cold during autumn, and averages around 8°C (46°F). But be prepared for much lower temperatures, too.

Autumn is the shoulder season for travel in Ketchikan, which means slightly less visitors than in the peak season. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you can still find plenty of crowds, but better prices.

This is a great time of year to admire the wonderful scenery, browse the museums, and discover the nearby hiking trails. Also, you can check out the small town charm.


Autumn Weather in Ketchikan
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
October 8°C (46°F) 581 mm (22.9 in)
November 4°C (40°F) 441 mm (17.3 in)
December 2°C (36°F) 398 mm (15.7 in)

Is Ketchikan worth visiting in the Winter?

Winter is the low season for travel in Ketchikan. This destination is quite touristy, but in the low season you'll see fewer crowds and much better prices.

The weather in Ketchikan can be quite cold during winter, and averages around 1°C (34°F). But be prepared for much lower temperatures, too.

You'll find plenty to do during winter, as you'll be able to spend time at the museums and sample the delicious cuisine.


Winter Weather in Ketchikan
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
January 1°C (34°F) 379 mm (14.9 in)
February 3°C (38°F) 335 mm (13.2 in)
March 4°C (39°F) 270 mm (10.6 in)

Is Ketchikan worth visiting in the Spring?

This is the shoulder season for travel in Ketchikan. This destination is quite touristy, so in the shoulder season you can still find plenty of crowds, but better prices.

The weather in Ketchikan can be quite cold during spring, and averages around 6°C (44°F). But be prepared for much lower temperatures, too.

The stunning mountain scenery at this time of year shouldn't be missed. You can wander around the town to enjoy the sights, but the real charm is when you get out into the nearby mountains. Drive, bike, hike, go camping, or just relax in the awe of the mountain views. During this season it's fun to experience the many shops, the museums and landmarks, and the beautiful scenery. Also, you can experience the small town charm.


Spring Weather in Ketchikan
Avg Temp
(°C/°F)
Avg Rain
(mm/inches)
April 6°C (44°F) 286 mm (11.3 in)
May 9°C (49°F) 237 mm (9.3 in)
June 12°C (54°F) 209 mm (8.2 in)

Things to Consider Before Visiting Ketchikan

Nightlife: Most people don't associate Ketchikan with a lively nightlife scene. Because most visitors arrive by cruise ship, there's a more local vibe to the nightlife scene. You'll find a few local bars around town where you can enjoy a drink and good conversation.

The Cost
Depending on your budget, schedule, and travel style, Ketchikan might be an expensive destination for you. You can find out the travel costs for Ketchikan here or see if Ketchikan is expensive here.

Related

What is Ketchikan most famous for?

Ketchikan is most famous for its salmon fishing, beautiful natural environment, and strong sense of local culture. The town is very popular for its food and hiking. And many visitors also come to this town for its museums and shopping. It is often described as local, scenic, and quaint.

What is the most famous sight in Ketchikan?

The most popular sight in Ketchikan is the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. You can see prices and costs for this and other sights in Ketchikan on our travel costs page.

Or, see tickets, activities, and tours for the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and other attractions here.

How touristy is Ketchikan? Is it a popular town to visit?

Ketchikan is a popular town for tourists and travelers. Here are some of the most popular activities and tours. (Prices in US Dollars)

  • Ketchikan Helicopter Tour: $182
  • Cruisin' and Boozin' - 90 minute Historical Walking Tour of Sites and Bars: $95
  • Alaskan Cultural, Culinary and Lumberjack Show Experience: $149
  • Ketchikan Kayak Eco-Tour: $161
  • Rainforest Zip, Skybridge & Rappel Adventure in Ketchikan, AK: $225
  • Ketchikan Electric Bike and Rain Forest Hike Ecotour: $161
  • Mahoney Lake Off-Road UTV Tour: $255
  • Ketchikan Shore Excursion: Rainforest Canopy Ropes and Zipline Adventure Park: $150

How long should I spend in Ketchikan?

The ideal length of time for a trip to Ketchikan is one to three days. Since Ketchikan has a variety of activities such as dining and hiking, most people need this much time to see and do everything here.

If you have a specific amount of time for your trip, see our advice about how much time to spend here: Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Ketchikan? and Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Ketchikan?.