Experience the culture and adventure of Southeast Alaska. This itinerary gives you a good amount of time to explore the five largest communities along the Inside Passage. The first part of your adventure will be getting to Bellingham, Washington. If you live in the Pacific Northwest a short drive will get you there. If you live farther away, there are bus, train, air, and shuttle options that can transfer you to the Bellingham Terminal. The ferries from Bellingham fill up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
Ferry from Bellingham to Ketchikan (+)
Ferry from Bellingham to Ketchikan (-)
During the thirty-eight-hour voyage from Bellingham to Ketchikan relax and enjoy the scenery. Bond with your travel companions and meet some new ones along the way. Reserve a passenger cabin if you would prefer some privacy, or unwind in the recliner lounge or observation lounge. For the more adventurous, set up your own tent on the back deck. Step outside for some fresh air, the covered solarium is heated and provides spectacular views of the passing landscape. Food and beverage service is available, including hot and cold options.
Ketchikan — Salmon Capital of the World (+)
Ketchikan — Salmon Capital of the World (-)
Pick up the official Ketchikan walking tour map at the Visitors Bureau conveniently located downtown. The Tongass Historical Museum, historical properties of Creek Street, and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center provide a sense of history of the town, and the Totem Heritage Center highlights Native cultural influences that have shaped the area. Fly and/or cruise to Misty Fjords National Monument. After mid-July, tour one of the many bear viewing areas. Go salmon fishing with an experienced charter boat captain to see why Ketchikan is known as the "Salmon Capitol of the World." Visit Saxman Native Village or Totem Bight State Park to learn about the Native culture of the area. You can also go hiking, kayaking, or ziplining.
Ketchikan to Wrangell — A Hidden Jewel (+)
Ketchikan to Wrangell — A Hidden Jewel (-)
Head back to the ferry terminal to continue your adventure north through the Tongass National Forest. During your six-hour ferry ride from Ketchikan to Wrangell keep an eye out for wildlife. Wrangell Island has over 100 miles of forest roads that offer mountain bikers, hikers, RVrs and other explorers access to remote lakes, rivers, campsites and scenic overlooks. Take a boat tour to the Stikine River, a designated wilderness area, to view black and brown bears, migratory birds, eagles, sea lions, harbor seals, and whales. Go fishing for salmon or halibut with an experienced charter boat captain. In July and August visit the Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, it is a favorite spot to view brown and black bears feasting on salmon. If history and cultural influences are your pursuit, visit Chief Shakes Island and Tribal House Historic Monument and Petroglyph Beach State Historical Park. Wrangell also has the only regulation USGA rated golf course in Southeast Alaska.
Wrangell to Petersburg — Little Norway, Big Adventure (+)
Wrangell to Petersburg — Little Norway, Big Adventure (-)
Enjoy a three-hour ferry ride from Wrangell to Petersburg through the Wrangell Narrows, a very narrow waterway that separates Mitkof Island and Kupreanof Island. The Wrangell Narrows is a highlight of the Inside Passage, famous for its many navigational markers. Be sure to sit up front to see the action. Then, spend some time exploring Petersburg, the fishing community called "Little Norway," for its Scandinavian influence. Explore LeConte Glacier Bay, just 20 miles by boat, it is the southernmost tidewater glacier in Alaska. Charter boat, kayaking and flightseeing tours are available for viewing this natural wonder. Venture a little farther out, only 30 minutes by boat, to go whale watching. Or, go sport fishing. Troll for king and silver salmon or drop a herring to entice a Pacific halibut that can grow as big as a barn door. Mitkof Island is also home to healthy bird, wolf, black bear, deer, and moose populations.
Petersburg to Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (+)
Petersburg to Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (-)
Next, board the Alaska Marine Highway for a relaxing eight-hour ferry ride to Juneau. These rich waters are home to abundant wildlife; keep an eye out for orca and humpback wales, porpoises, seals and sea lions. Look to the shoreline to spot deer, bears, wolves and moose. Juneau's most popular attraction is the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Go to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center for interactive displays and hike one of the many trails in the area for different views of the glacier. Several helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft companies offer unique opportunities to see and experience the Juneau Icefield from the air. Whale watching is something you won't want to miss. Humpback and orca whales congregate in the calm waters around Juneau and put on quite a show in the summer. Even if you've never cast a reel, you ought to try fishing for salmon or halibut. Also, try hiking, rafting, kayaking and even ziplining.
Ferry from Juneau to Sitka (+)
Ferry from Juneau to Sitka (-)
Board the fast ferry for a four-and-a-half-hour trip to Sitka. Spend the afternoon exploring the area. Visit Sitka's most popular places: St. Michael's Cathedral, Sitka National Historical Park, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka Historical Museum, Alaska Raptor Center, Fortress of the Bear, Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House, and the Russian Bishop's House. Finish the day with an evening of dining at one of Sitka's many local favorites.
Explore Sitka — More Than You Can Imagine (+)
Explore Sitka — More Than You Can Imagine (-)
Let the music begin with either the energetic and brightly costumed New Archangel Dancers all-women troupe or the rhythm of the hand-made drums and regalia costumes of the Shee'tka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Dancers. Try an exciting wildlife boating adventure to see whales, sea lions, sea otters and more. Grab a paddle, and kayak the pristine bays and waterways. Scuba dive, dry suit snorkel, or consider a semi-submersible boat excursion. Explore the Tongass National Forest by bike or take a hike on one of the many trails for all skill levels. From Sitka, fly back to Seattle and home again. You'll have explored the largest communities along the Inside Passage and have great stories to tell your friends and family.