Misty Fjords, Alaska
Taking its name from the frequent weather conditions, Misty Fjords is part of Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States. The area is a unique ecosystem of rainforest, balanced on steep cliffs that overlook the ocean below.
Lightly coloured granite cliffs give way to the spectacular icy blue waters that course over their walls. Misty Fjords National Monument receives more than 4,100mm of rain per year, contributing to the many lakes and streams that are part of the remarkable landscape.
The monument is a wilderness area that stretches more than 2.2 million acres. Snow-capped mountains and rich red cedar trees line the fjords, cloaked by mist and low-hanging clouds. Natural canals and waterfalls add to the stunning sounds and views that make Misty Fjords so unforgettable.
This Alaskan natural beauty is known for its salmon production; all five pacific salmon varieties are found here. Misty Fjords is also the natural habitat for many varieties of bear, whale, mountain goats and deer. The forest makes the perfect nesting space for bald eagles, herons and hummingbirds, with more than 100 species of migrating birds finding their way here. Wildlife spotting is just one of the attractions.
Misty Fjords National Monument is 64 kilometres east of Ketchikan, a thriving salmon fishing town. Ketchikan is home to a number of hiking trails, including the popular Deer Mountain trail, and a variety of dining and shopping options.
The nearest port to Misty Fjords is the town of Ketchikan. Ketchikan is the first major population on the Southern edge of the Inside Passage region and is often referred to as Alaska’s ‘First City’. It is a major port for cruise ships and there are many shops located on the waterfront.
Visitors to Ketchikan arrive via the modern port, which welcomes thousands of cruise ship passengers every year. The terminal has been built to accommodate many visitors, from the tourism information booths to the shuttle buses.
- Tourist information and guides
- Public transport facilities
- Activity and tour booking facilities.
A variety of accommodation options are available in Ketchikan. Hotels, inns, bed and breakfast, cabins and resorts welcome guests. Note that some options may only be available during peak season.
How to Get Around
Ketchikan is almost 50 kilometres long, but the town stretches no more than 10 blocks wide. The CBD is a comfortable walk, but visitors can also take advantage of the free shuttle bus that runs during peak tourist season (May to September).
Flights to Ketchikan are available daily with Alaska Airlines. Buses operate seven days a week and run downtown from the terminal and out to some residential streets. Taxis can also transport visitors from the cruise ship terminal into town.
Rental cars are available for visitors to explore Ketchikan and the surrounding area; however, parking restrictions and permits may apply to some areas.
Bicycle and electric cart rental is available in Ketchikan for those looking to experience town from a different perspective.
- Currency - The local currency in Ketchikan is the United States Dollar (USD), although some stores may accept Canadian dollars as well. The United States Dollar comes in USD$1, USD$2, USD$5, USD$10, USD$20, USD$50, and USD$100 notes. Coins come in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cent (₵) and USD$1 denominations.
- Time Zone – Misty Fjords and Ketchikan observe Alaska Standard Time (AKST), which lags behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by 9 hours. Daylight Saving Time begins in March and runs until the beginning of November. During the summer, daylight extends to more than 17 hours.
- Weather – Winter temperature averages are between 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, while summer temperatures are a more pleasant 15 to 17 degrees Celsius. Highest rainfall is usually around October, but it is best to be prepared for rain all year round.
- Misty Fjords National Monument – The monument itself is the largest area of wilderness in Alaska. The spectacular fjord highlights beautiful glaciers and amazing waterfalls. The monument is made up of natural canals and passages that extend for more than 150 kilometres. As your ship ventures through the fjords, have your camera ready for wildlife spotting.
- Totem Heritage Centre, Ketchikan – A colourful display of native culture, the centre has the largest collection of original 19th century totem poles. The centre is open daily during the summer and hosts salvaged totem poles from both Tlingit and Haida villages.
- Creek Street, Ketchikan – Less of a street and more of a promenade, until 1953, this area was lined with bordellos. Modern day Creek Street consists of boutique stores in bright colours, as well as restaurants, galleries and museums. If you are looking for somewhere to re-fuel or to pick up some souvenirs, this is the place to visit.