As many as five massive cruise ships a day can flood Ketchikan, Alaska, with tourists during the summer, but most of the locals are remarkably tolerant of this invasion. Fleets of float planes add to the happy bustle, and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles. And there are hostels in Ketchikan to give you an inexpensive place to stay during your visit.
Ketchikan, crammed against wooded mountains, is narrow and steep, with some streets giving up and turning into staircases. These are fun to explore, and provide good views of town. Don't miss Creek street, where brothels once flourished and colorful houses still lean crazily over the water.
Salmon swim up the creek late July-August, and in the surrounding wilderness you might also see bears feeding on those salmon. Bear watching tours are expensive, but less so here than some places. You can even kayak to Naha Bay to catch glimpses of the creatures. Whale watching tours are also popular. Hiking is good, one of the best budget activities around.
As a rule, it will rain during your stay, so come prepared, though locals are so used to it that they may laugh if you pull out your umbrella.
From your Ketchikan hostel, you'll be able to walk almost everywhere you want. Free downtown shuttles loop through the main tourist area, and three colored bus lines run through town and out to popular destinations such as Totem Bight State Park, Saxman Village, and the ferry terminal. As with many areas of Southeast Alaska, the only way in or out is by boat or plane, which lends mystery to the place. Eating is expensive, so ask the hostel staff for recommendations, and plan on a few picnics with hostel friends.
Shopping involves a lot of souvenirs for cruise ship passengers, and no one can say it's off the beaten track, but fun little Ketchikan serves as a great base to explore the stunning nature nearby.
Hi, I'm Melinda Brasher,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Ketchikan hostels. Welcome.