Ketchikan is often referred to as “Alaska’s First City”. Not because it was the first city established in Alaska, but because it was often the first stop for the people traveling further north for the gold rush. Ketchikan is rich in history and in beauty, in more ways than one. 

Creek Street

At 6am the ship docked, although they didn’t make the announcement over the PA to avoid waking up guests. Rachel and I were at the door by 6:30am, heading out to explore Ketchikan before the early call time for our excursion. 

Downtown seemed pretty small, at least from a walking perspective, so after passing by (some very tempting) cafes and coffee shops, we headed to the one must-see spot we heard about in our research: Creek Street. 

Creek Street is in the Red Light District, propped up boardwalks supporting the buildings. Starting back in the 1920s, sailors would visit the 20-odd brothels that made up the area. The story goes, Creek Street is where “both men and salmon swam upstream to spawn''.

These days, “Married Man’s Trail” attracts more tourists than men looking for a brothel. Small, locally-owned shops now occupy the colored buildings. I would imagine the boardwalk gets packed with cruise-goers, but with the shops closed at 7am, it was quite a peaceful walk. 

Lake Canoe

At 7:20am, we made our way back to the ship dock to meet the group for our excursion. One bumpy the bus ride and seven bald eagle sightings later, we arrived at Harriet Hunt Lake.

I was taken by the stillness of the lake once we got on the water. There is an agreement with the local native tribe that only allows motorized vehicles on one side of the lake, which made the area even more quiet. Being on a cruise ship for days and then in downtown areas of the ports, I grew accustomed to a certain level of background noise. Like many things in life, it’s easy to ignore when it’s constant but once I was out on that lake with nothing but the sound of paddles in water that I realized what a part of me had been missing on that trip. Slowing down to soak up where you are now is very rarely a bad idea. 

But speeding up is fun too. 

Backcountry Jeep

I’ve done my fair share of driving on rough roads with the hiking I do. I’ve gotten pretty good at dodging potholes and breathing through blind hairpin turns on the side of cliffs. But I do all of that with my 2WD Nissan Rogue, so I take care to go slow and avoid sharp rocks. 

This was something else.

They took our license information, handed us keys and told us “the first time you hit a tree it’s alright, but the second time we’ll have a chat”. They must have good insurance. With that, we hopped into our 4x4 Jeep Wrangler Sport and hit the old logger roads. Instead of avoiding the potholes, we steered into them, laughing when we felt the water from puddles hit the bottom of the car. 

It was a total rush, and it was a great way to spend our last Alaskan port stop; appreciating both the still quiet of nature, and the wild parts that come with it.