The Saxman Native Village, the largest collection of standing totems, is a very popular tour with cruise lines when stopping in Ketchikan. You can easily do this on your own if you don’t mind a long walk and possible drizzle along the way.
The village is about 3 miles from town. Once off the ship, walk away from the coast on Dock Street or a parallel street to Stedman Street, go to the right and continue. Once out of the downtown area, it is an easy walk along the coast on a wide asphalt trail. The trail is used by locals who are running, biking and jogging. You’ll pass Fish Canneries, one of the largest Coast Guard stations and coastal homes – getting a glimpse of how Alaskans live. On the trail you’ll see wild flowers and fresh wild berries (depending on the season). Approaching the park there is a totem sign indicating you are approaching the Village. You will take a left and walk up a short hill. From there you will see the totems in the distance.
There is a $5.00 park fee if you want to tour the park on your own. Before going you can print out this map and description.
There are 11 poles along the road; 14 additional in the park plus the Clan house. Also a carving shed where you can watch master carvers at their trade. Definitely stop here for a few minutes. This is very informative as each pole has its own story and history. We also we able to participate in the Clan House Tour and Native Dancing show. After your tour you will want to visit the gift shop which has a nice collection of hand carved totems, native art, Alaskan Jade and jewelry items. There is a Saxman Village t shirt that comes out every year depicting one of the Haida designs.
Depending on your energy you can walk back to town or the gift shop staff will call a taxi for you. It will be about $15.00. Either way I would make a stop at the local grocery store Tatsuda IGA at 633 Stedman. They have a small Alaska souvenir area with boxed smoked salmon. I have found this is far less expensive than what you will find in the local gift shops. Plus, you can pick up anything you might have forgotten to pack.
Just up the street on the right hand side is the New York Hotel & Café. This boutique, historic hotel is a good stop for a cappuccino or a sweet treat. It is right at the base of Creek Street, another famous area in Ketchikan. Creek Street was established in the early 1900’s as a result of the Gold Rush. By 1920, there were at least 21 “bawdy houses” on the Creek with over 37 women working out of them. Creek Street became the center for prostitution, bootleg liquor, gaming rooms, speakeasies and other wild and illicit activity. Today, Creek Street is more tame with a number of gift shops, authentic wares along with your typical t-shirt shop acheter viagra inde. There is one brothel still available to tour with girls dressed in era costumes: Dolly’s House. Also, if you are looking to fish, you can rent a fishing pole at the base of the boardwalk and fish right in the creek or from the bridge. Either way you can see the salmon swimming up-stream throughout the whole summer season.
On my way back to the ship I usually stop at Kechi-Candies (315 Mission Street) for homemade treats and then to Annabell’s Chowder & Keg House (326 Front Street) located in the historic Gilmore Hotel for smoked seafood chowder and a refreshment (Also King crab, and halibut available). Keep an eye on your watch as ships allot less time Ketchikan than other ports of call. Enjoy your time in Ketchikan.
As a note when shopping in Alaska, if you are looking for truly ‘made in Alaska’ gifts, look for this symbol for authenticity.