Juneau, the Inside Passage, and Southeast Alaska Itineraries

A Different Vantage of the Inside Passage, 7 days

Hands down, the best way to experience the Inside Passage is by boat. For visitors and locals, the ferry is the number one choice for traversing the fjord; it's economical, relaxing, and offers tremendous views. To optimize your time and cover more distance, fly some legs of the trip. Don't worry, this won't compromise your sightseeing: a bird's-eye view from your plane window is breathtaking, and not to be missed.

Days 1 and 2: Ketchikan

Fly directly into Ketchikan and stay at the Black Bear Inn, an elegant, affordable, waterfront B&B. It's highly regarded, so be sure to book well in advance.

Get settled in and take a day trip on a catamaran by Alaska Travel Adventures to the awe-inspiring Misty Fiords National Monument. The Ketchikan area is known for its salmon fishing, so if you’re interested in catching your own dinner, book a day trip that includes fishing and license.

On your second day, acquaint yourself with the beautiful town of Ketchikan. This charming town is known for its contemporary and traditional art. Spend a few hours walking through the town’s two famous totem pole parks, Totem Bight and Saxman Totem Pole Park. Stop in at the Soho Coho Gallery, owned by well-known Alaskan artist Ray Troll, where you’ll find an array of original, Alaska-made collectibles. And don’t miss the Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council’s Main Street Gallery.

Day 3: Wrangell

(6 hours by ferry from Ketchikan)

Wrangell is less touristy than many of the towns along the Inside Passage. It’s an excellent place to get away from the hectic cruise-ship foot traffic and the T-shirt and knickknack shops that go along with it. Book your room at the Stikine Inn downtown and try to get one of the rooms with views of the water.

After you’ve unloaded at your hotel, take a stroll through the galleries and shops featuring wares by local artists and artisans. Grab lunch and walk down to the Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park and see ancient art chiseled on the rocks. No one knows who created these carvings or how long ago; they’re curious, original, and intriguing.

For the latter part of the afternoon, take a jet-boat ride with Breakaway Adventures and soak in the nearby Chief Shakes Hot Springs.

Day 4: Petersburg

(3-hour ferry ride from Wrangell)

Petersburg’s Scandinavian heritage is evident from the moment you arrive. The Norwegian-style homes and boat docks set it apart from other Alaskan towns. Book a room in Scandia House and then spend the day glacier viewing and whale watching with Tongass Kayak Adventures. Just 25 miles outside of town is LeConte Glacier, the continent's southernmost tidewater glacier and Petersburg's biggest draw.

Day 5: Juneau

(8-hour ferry ride from Petersburg)

Most of the ferries from Petersburg to Juneau depart in the wee hours. You can book a cabin, or do as most Alaskans do and just curl up with your blanket on a deck chair under the heat lamps.

Once you’re in Juneau, check into your room at Alaska’s Capital Inn. Grab breakfast at Heritage Coffee Company and then take a helicopter ride on Temsco Helicopters to the Juneau Icefields. Spend an exciting afternoon dogsledding across the ice like the great Iditarod mushers do.

Once you’re back in town, grab the bus to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake for dinner. If you'd like to walk off the meal, hike up to the remains of the old Wagner Gold Mine and do a little gold panning of your own.

Day 6: Haines

(4½-hour ferry ride from Juneau)

Check into Hotel Halsingland, the old Victorian officers’ bunkers of Ft. Seward, then head over to the Mountain Market. This popular hangout is a health-food market–deli–coffee shop. Grab some things for a packed lunch, then rent a bike from Sockeye Cycle and spend an afternoon on the well-groomed trails that meander through the rain forest.

Get back to your hotel in time to take the Twilight Bear Viewing Trip or Valley of the Eagles Nature Tour (3–4 hours) with Alaska Nature Tours. Afterward, have a libation at the Fogcutter Bar and rub elbows with the locals. Don’t lose track of time, though: Southeast bars have a tendency to stay open until the wee hours of morning, and you’ll need to catch the ferry or flight back to Juneau the next day for your trip home.

Day 7: Head Home

Travel back to Juneau and depart for home.

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