Do you want flexibility, and the chance to plan your own adventure on your trip to Alaska? The Alaska Marine Highway allows you to spend a couple of days in our unique coastal communities, and really immerse yourself in the history, culture, and adventure of the area. Fly or ferry to Ketchikan to begin this adventure through the Inside Passage. Depending on where you live, this could add an extra day or two to your itinerary. The good news is that the flight from Seattle to Ketchikan in only 90 minutes, so Alaska's closer than you think.
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. Routes can be walked in as little as 60 minutes, but plan extra time to appreciate the sights and for visiting attractions. Go salmon fishing with one of the many experienced charter boat captains. 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. If you brought your bicycle, ride eight miles out to Ward Lake for a hike, or pedal 30 miles along the coastline to both ends of the road.
Ferry from Ketchikan to Skagway (+)
Ferry from Ketchikan to Skagway (-)
Board the ferry and continue north to Skagway. Depending on the ferry you choose, your cruise could range from thirty hours to two days; the mainline ferry routes visit the communities of Wrangell, Petersburg, and Juneau. If time allows, spend a day or two in one of these communities or simply stay on the ferry for the trip to Skagway. Relax and enjoy the passing scenery of the Inside Passage, bond with your travel companions, meet local Alaskans, and make some new friends along the way.
Skagway — Gateway to the Klondike (+)
Skagway — Gateway to the Klondike (-)
Discover Skagway, a place where the past lives on, where the cries of "gold in the Yukon" still echo from steep canyon walls, where the sounds of barroom pianos and boomtown crowds ring out, and the romance and excitement of yesteryear linger around every street corner. Visit one of the local attractions that focus on gold rush history to pan for gold. The Skagway Museum & Archives and the Gold Rush Cemetery will take you back to the gold rush era. Drive or bike out to Dyea, the head of the Chilkoot Trail. Take a hike along the Dewey Lake trail system or out Yakutania Point on the Smuggler’s Cove Trail. Go dog sledding, horseback riding, glacier flightseeing, rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, ziplining, fishing, or enjoy a train ride on a historic narrow-gauge railway. The National Park Service offers free walking tours daily in the summer.
Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (+)
Juneau — Alaska's Capital City (-)
Spend two days exploring Juneau, Alaska's capital city. Juneau's most popular attraction is the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier accessible by road in Southeast Alaska. Go to the 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. For the more adventurous, trekking and dogsledding are highly rated glacier activities. Whale watching is something you won't want to miss in Juneau. Humpback and orca whales congregate in the calm waters around Juneau and put on quite a show in the summer. Also, try hiking, rafting, kayaking and even ziplining.
Gustavus — Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park (+)
Gustavus — Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park (-)
Take the ferry to Gustavus, the Gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. The four-and-a-half-hour cruise takes you through Icy Strait, considered to be one of the best whale watching areas in the state. Gustavus is a community of just over 400 people and the perfect place to launch your Glacier Bay adventure. The most popular way to experience Glacier Bay is by boat. Book a charter (many of which can be booked as a package with a stay at a lodge), grab a rain jacket and spend the day on the water. You'll see floating icebergs and glaciers. The wildlife viewing is almost always excellent. From whales, sea lions and seals splashing alongside your boat to bears meandering along the coast to eagles soaring overhead, your camera won't get much rest. The next day, catch the mid-afternoon ferry back to Juneau. From Juneau, fly back to Seattle and home again. You'll have great stories to tell your friends and family about exploring Southeast Alaska your own way.