We booked Anan Creek Bear Viewing with Family Air Tours. They picked us up at the Liquid Sunshine Gauge next to the Ketchikan Visitor’s Center on the pier and drove us to their plane hangar. Dave is the owner and pilot. The plane is a Cessna 185 on floats so it takes off and lands in the water. We were the only ones on the plane for our trip. I sat in the back and Chris in the front, next to Dave. The flight was about 45 minutes (longer than advertised because Dave had to take “the long way” due to the fog. When we landed in Anan Bay, we expected that we’d hop off the plane on to a sandy beach but we basically had to jump off the floats on to slippery rocks. I almost fell in the water! I think this part might be difficult for those with limited mobility. The ranger helped wrangle our floatplane to shore and then checked us in. Since it was already 11:30 by now, we decided to eat our packed lunches since you cannot bring food on to the trail. However, we found out there is a food storage locker at the ranger station that you can store your food to get or eat later. There is also an outhouse at the bottom and top of the trails but they recommend that you use the one at the bottom because bears are frequent the outhouse at the top and you may be stuck in the outhouse if a bear decides to hang out in front of it. (One of Dave’s employees was stuck in it for 45 minutes!)
The trail itself is a mix of raised platforms, like a boardwalk, and dirt trail. As everyone said, it was impossible to get lost. We used a bear bell the entire way and it took about 20 minutes. We didn’t see any wildlife on the way up, though we saw lots of scat. The Observatory sits right over Anan Creek, where an enormous amount of salmon are swimming upstream. Bears come to the Creek to catch salmon. When we arrived, there were probably about 10 people at the Observatory. Part of the deck is covered. We spent close to 3 hours at the Observatory, including 30 minutes in the photo blind. You can only sign up for one photo blind spot during your first visit. (I think this is a new rule change this year because the text on the sign-up sheet that said you can sign up more than once was crossed out and corrected with “once”.) We had to wait for about an hour and a half for our reservation. The photo blind brought us closer to the salmon running but we didn’t see as much from there because the deck is so low and you can’t see what’s going up higher up the hill or on the other side of the Observatory. I was happier with being out on the top deck but spending 30 minutes in the photo blind was good to get a different perspective. We probably saw 15-20 black bears of all different sizes/ages as well as young and adult bald eagles. It was so amazing to see the bears catch salmon right in front of us! We also had a young bear climb the tree in front of the deck and sit up there almost the entire time. Near the end of our visit, the group from Taquan Air left and we were the only ones at the Observatory with the ranger. A bear walked right under the deck and popped up on the other side of the fence. He was literally a couple of feet away from us! He looked at us a little surprised, calmed down, and then climbed the tree right in front of us! SO AMAZING!! We were told that earlier in the morning around 8 am, there were also a few brown bears and otters but we didn’t see them. It stayed drizzly the entire time we were at the Observatory but it didn’t bother us. We were dressed appropriately and seeing the bears, salmon, and eagles was so awesome. On the way back down the trail, we had a brown bear cross in front of us. I’m thinking that she heard us coming because of the bear bell and decided to cross the trail before we got to her. The ranger later told us HER name was George. =)
Dave picked us up at 3:15 pm. We had also booked the add-on flight through Misty Fjords but Dave checked with other pilots who just got back from there and said it was too foggy to see anything. Really honest guy. He refunded our money for that portion of the tour. This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life! I'm so happy that I went and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting to Ketchikan or Wrangell.
Almost hidden, is the wonderful salmon run area behind Creek Street. During the season of spawning, July-September, these fish literally jump up the stream to get to the spawning area. Salmon spend their life-cycle in the ocean and return to where they started out as an egg. After the process of laying and fertilizing eggs is completed, salmon die. Their work is done to ensure future schools of salmon.
The view of the salmon is amazing because you are within 10 feet of where they are climbing their way to the spawning grounds. there is even a bridge to stand on the look down on the salmon as they climb. Being right in town, makes it special for families with small children as you won't have to travel far to see the salmon.
Saxman native village is the most popular totem park in Ketchikan, but Totem Bight is much more nicer and interesting. Located north of town. Plus it has a nice beach and rain forest where you can walk and admire the flora.
Use Ketchikan as the jumping point for a vacation with a vacation over to Prince of Wales Island. There is a lot of scenery, great fishing, El Captian caves, and more...
My travel page will have a little information about all the communities I've traveled to. The only community I found in VT listed as a destination is Hydaburg. But I have lumped them all together.
These past few years there have been 500,000+ thousands visitors who go to Ketchikan each summer. But many visitors never get the opportunity to see the Misty Fjords National Monument as it is accessible only by floatplane or smaller boat, and takes longer to reach than the few hours layover cruise ship passengers have. If you have the chance to stay in Ketchikan, taking a trip into the Monument will be rewarding. It's absolutely georgeous on the backside of "Revilla Island". You can even stay in the Monument, the Tongass National Forest has a small number of cabins that can be rented by individuals.
One day a barge brought anyone who wanted who didn't have their own boat around the corner of Gravina Island to Black Sands Beach for a community gathering and picnic.
There aren't tours in Ketchikan to this wonderful beach, but a very determined person could charter a boat here.
The island in the background across the way is Annette Island where Metlakatla is located. Annette Island is the only Indian Reservation in the State of Alaska.
These boys had the idea that they could find some clams. You can see air bubbles in the sands. Clams tend to be quicker than young boys digging though, so I don't think they were successful.
You can really see how dark the sand is in this image.
The way the water streamed down the beach at low tide fascinated me. Those little spikey things in the sand were tube worms of some kind. I don't know their name.
In this picture you can see a clam shell. You can wander around beach combing while someone else is cooking the hot dogs!
Wow! You hop into a Zodiac Boat and zip out to an island, get a couple of minutes of Kayak Training, and off you go. The guides take you around and show you wildlife. Did you know there are PURPLE STARFISH in Alaska?!?! Wow! It's a tandem kayak, we never felt like we were going to tip.
Well, I think Ketchikan is itself 'off the beaten path.' I mean, the only tourists that come here are off of huge (these things are monstrous) cruise ships for a brief port-of-call stop. Ughh... I liked my ferry. Thus, my 'off the beaten path' advice is to take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Ketchikan, if you're going to visit. That is very unique in my opinion, and you can read my Alaska page for more of me raving about that! Pictured here is our ferry.
Take a trip from Sitka and go and see the sea otters.
The waters in the Inside passage form some of the world's richest wildlife habitat. Sea otters, whales, eagles, sea lions, seals, porpoises and many sea birds make thier home in or around the waters surrounding Sitka.
Address and tel: Allen Marine Tours, P.O. Box 1049, Sitka, Alaska 99835-1049. tel (907) 747-8100
Glacier Bay Natioanal Park and Preserve.
It is hard to imagine that the shorelines we cruised along in Glacier Bay were completely covered in ice just 200 years ago. Catain G. Vancouver discovered Icy Strait choked with ice in 1784 and then Glacier Bay was a barely indented glacier. It was more than 4,000 feet thick and about 20 miles wide. It also extended more than 100 miles to the St. Elias Mountain range. By 1879 John Muir (a naturalist) found that the ice had retreated 48 miles up the bay. The park includes 16 tidewater glaciers with 12 of them actively calving into the bay and we were lucky enough it see that. It is a fantastic sight, huge blocks of ice break loose and crash into the water.
Here is a ghostly tree reflection in Connel Lake. The day I took this was a really misty, rainy day. I found it while hiking along the trail at Connel Lake.
There is a hiking trail at Connel Lake that isn't quite as popular as others. But it's a nice trail.
Here is the dam that used to supply electricy to the Ward Cove Pulp Company.
Here is another picture of the beach I took while walking around where you can see those worm-like tubes well.