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  • 29
  • Dec
  • 2014

Things to Do in Ketchikan During Your Alaska Cruise

We’ll be upfront about it: It rains a lot in Ketchikan. The locals embrace it, even taking pride in not carrying umbrellas, and call the wet stuff “liquid sunshine.” The good news for adventurous cruisers is that without the rain, there wouldn’t be rainforests in Ketchikan, where the adventures begin. So during your Alaska cruise, you can look forward to choosing among a number of rainforest and other adventures in Ketchikan – with raingear provided, if needed.

Here are our top five picks for activities for adventurers in Ketchikan:

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Zipline Alaska. Courtesy of Alaska Canopy Adventure

At Alaska Canopy Adventures, you can zoom over the treetops of the Tongass National Forest on Alaska’s first and largest zipline course during its Rainforest Canopy and Zipline Expedition. The waterfront course at Herring Cove, eight miles from Ketchikan, is eventually reached by climbing a steep hill in a 4X4 all-terrain vehicle. Once there, you’ll have access to eight dual ziplines ranging from 100 to 850 feet in length – Ben’s Revenge is the most thrilling — 11 tree platforms, and three large suspension bridges, rising up to 135 feet above the forest floor. You can also choose the company’s newer zipline course, called the Bear Creek Zipline Adventure.  It comes complete with seven dual-cable ziplines above the forest canopy, Alaska’s longest skybridge, nine tree platforms, rappelling down from the final platform, and a 250-foot mountain slide. You’ll reach the course via all-terrain vehicle. Both trips take 3 ½ hours.


Photo Courtesy of Alaska Travel Adventures

Photo Courtesy of Alaska Travel Adventures

On the Backcountry Jeep and Canoe Safari from Alaska Travel Adventures, you’ll experience the rainforest by both land and water. First, you’ll take a memorable ride in a four-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler through the backroads of rugged Revillagigado island. The route travels through the mountainous rainforest while your guide delivers a narrative over two-way radio, and comes with opportunities to take photos from scenic overlooks. Each Jeep carries groups of four, so you can rotate drivers or remain a passenger. After the Jeep excursion, you’ll help paddle a 37-foot, 20-passenger guided canoe at Lake Harriet Hunt, which you’ll cross to find the trailhead for a nature hike through an old-growth forest. The entire trip takes four hours.

With Adventure Karts, you can experience  the wilderness around Ketchikan first-hand from an open-air, two-person Tomcar during the Adventure Kart Expedition, an off-road, all-terrain vehicle tour. The guided 14-mile-long course, complete with steep curves to get your adrenaline flowing, tackles mountain trails for an hour and a half  while serving up views of the Behm Canal, the Tongass National Forest, and the Inside Passage. The entire tour (including bus transfers from town) takes a bit over three hours. Drivers must be licensed and at least 16 years of age.


Alaska Whale watching. Things to Do in Ketchikan During Your Alaska Cruise

Ketchikan Outdoors offers the chance to drive your own Zodiac – a 14-foot inflatable boat – through the choppy waters of the Inside Passage on its Backcountry Adventure. You can go in search of bears (who frequent inlets and estuaries) as well as local marine life such as whales, seals and sea lions. If you’re traveling in a party of four, you’ll have your own Zodiac; otherwise, smaller parties will be paired up to make four per boat. This is no easy sail along calm seas. Alaskan coastal waters, the owners advise, can be rough – so make sure you’re in the kind of physical shape necessary for an adventure comparable in excitement and rigor to whitewater rafting.

On the Alaska Bush Pilot Experience tour from Spirit of Alaska Tours, you can join a scheduled mail, freight and passenger flight that will transport you to at least one of 18 communities — remote camps, fishing villages, or historic native settlements — that depend on small-plane delivery as their lifeline to the outside world.  The flight, which provides highly scenic views of the Tongass National Forest, isolated bays and largely uninhabited islands, is aboard a Dehaviland Beaver and operated by Taquan Air. Flights may include up to four stops, each with great photo opportunities. The tour lasts anywhere from one to three hours, including transfers.

Alaska cruises are often sold out, so it’s not too early to book your 2015 cruise to Alaska now! The agents at are ready to assist you in picking your perfect Alaska itinerary. Visit or call 1-888-804-CRUISE (2784)

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