A bustling community meets true Alaskan tradition in Ketchikan. This “First City” is home to endless opportunities, no matter what interests you. Between exploring the vast outdoors, rocking out in a boppin’ nightlife, and making some incredible Alaskan friends, your summer in Ketchikan will be unforgettable.
When You’re Feeling Social
“The comfortable couches at the Driver’s House are a great way to relax. It’s great just to lounge around with some of the other drivers, or have a game night. We all tend to become a close family.” – Elder
Bonfires: A Ketchikan Driver Guide tradition, beach bonfires down at Refuge Cove are a great place to mingle until the wee hours of the morning.
Head to the beach: Ketchikan is located along the Inside Passage and boasts never-ending miles of coastline. Grab your towel, slather on some sunscreen and bury your head in the sand for an afternoon. Feeling brave? Dive in! Just consider this your cold water warning.
“The summer employees like to get together as a group at least once a week and go out for dinner.” – Cagle
Bar Harbor Restaurant: The first stop for locals looking for a delicious meal and the chance to show guests some amazing local cuisine. Overwhelmed by the divine appetizers and extensive, eclectic menu? Don’t worry – you’ll be back more than once.
Ketchikan Coffee Co.: Welcome to your new favorite hangout. Cozy and comfy, with a marina view and some of the friendliest staff north of Juan de Fuca, this coffee shop serves piping hot artisan coffee alongside beer and wine.
Arctic Bar: A true sourdough bar, the Arctic has been around for 70 years and done its best to change as little as possible. Look forward to strong drinks, cheerful bartenders and the infamous “bell” which buys the house a round – and gets you more Alaskan BFFs than you know what to do with.
When Wilderness Calls
“All the trails in Ketchikan are beautiful. There is such a diverse mix of difficulty levels that are all perfect depending on the challenge you’re looking for each day.” – Cagle
Rainbird Trail: The perfect evening stroll or lunchtime jaunt. This leisurely trail gets you up and outside without requiring crampons or an ice axe. At the top you’ll get a stunning view of the Ketchikan from above, which extends out over the water and to the islands beyond.
Hint: the view at sunset is epic – just be sure to bring flashlights or lanterns so you can hike down safely.
Deer Mountain: For those looking for an all-day excursion, it doesn’t get better than Deer Mountain. Pack a lunch and lace up those hiking boots. While not very technical, this five-miler is steep – but the view is worth aching muscles!
Ward Lake Nature Trail: One of the most popular trails in Ketchikan, Ward Lake Trail cruises the 1.3 miles around the water. Take your time and admire the old-growth forests that envelop the lake.
Shelokum Lake Trail: Steep and rocky, this is the physical challenge an experienced hiker needs on his or her day off. It’s a little over 2 miles each way, and Shelokum’s scenery is touted as some of the best in all of Ketchikan.
Ask a local: Ketchikan natives are known for their inclusive, everyone’s welcome nature. Ask for tips from local Drivers, bartenders, shop owners, people walking down the street: everyone will be happy to point you to the best trailheads.
Take to the Water
“Knudson Cove Marina is great – they are one of our vendors, and they provide us with a great discount on skiff rentals.” – Elder
Cruise around: Deep Bay and Naha Bay lie to the north and both boast glassy blue waters and the opportunities to see eagles swooping in their natural habitats. Sea kayaks and motorized skiffs are both popular in Ketchikan. Float at sea for some fun in the sun, or go ashore to explore. Jordan Lake is just inland of Naha Bay – a delightful hike to break up your day on the water.
Go fishing: Ketchikan is home to some of the greatest fishing Alaska (and the world) has to offer. Head south to Herring Cove for a bounty of King Salmon or cast off one of Ketchikan’s piers and see what you catch.
“You see wildlife wherever you go: Naha Bay, Deer Mountain, Brown Mountain, Herring Cove. The list goes on!” -Morgan
When your backyard is their home, what kind of wildlife won’t you see while you’re in Ketchikan? Check ’em off as you go!
- Sea Lions
When you Want a Memory That Lasts Forever
Misty Fjords: This national monument is a mere hop, skip and jump away from Ketchikan – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get to. Most summer employees will fly to the Misty Fjords from Ketchikan, and some choose to stop over and go exploring by kayak.
“Flying to the Misty Fjords is spectacular and unbelievable. Definitely my favorite summer experience.” – Elder
Explore the unknown: Ketchikan is surrounded by islands, coves, and hidden treasures. On your days off, rent a kayak or skiff and discover something brand new!
When You’re Looking for the Best
Best fish and chips: Alaskan Surf Fish & Chips
Best lunch joint: Burger Queen
Best place to go with friends: Settlers Cove
Best place to see Alaskan art: Totem Bight State Park
Best “Only in Ketchikan”: Creek Street