The region’s earliest visitors, Tlingit Natives, are said to have set up summer fishing camps along the shores of the creek that runs through the center of town, and the name Ketchikan likely derived from the Native word for the waterway. After the commercial fishing industry discovered the salmon-rich creek in the late 19th century, the City of Ketchikan was formally incorporated in 1900. The annual salmon runs continue today, as all five species of wild Pacific salmon return to the creeks and streams near Ketchikan to spawn.
One of the top spots in town to watch this natural phenomenon is at the waterfall and salmon ladder by the far entrance to Creek Street, a rustic boardwalk elevated on pilings rising from the shoreline of Ketchikan Creek.
Throughout the region, the salmon-filled streams attract a fair share of wildlife to the region, and it’s common to spot black bears and eagles during the spring and summer. To increase your chance of a sighting, opt for an organized bear-viewing excursion by floatplane or cruise to Neets Bay or Eagle Creek. In both of these fast-flowing waterways, scores of salmon congregate to complete their spawning journey.
With all that salmon, angling opportunities abound, both in town and beyond. Knudson Cove Marina is especially lauded as a prime fishing ground. You can also try your luck pulling crab pots at a remote crab estuary on the Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feast excursion. Your efforts will be rewarded by a flavorful Dungeness crab feast, complete with sides of fresh oriental salad and baby red potatoes, plus scrumptious blueberry cheesecake for dessert.