99 Best Sights in Juneau, the Inside Passage, and Southeast Alaska, Alaska

Last Chance Mining Museum

A 1½-mile hike or taxi ride behind town, this small museum is housed in the former compressor building of Juneau's historic AJ Gold Mine. The collection includes old mining tools, railcars, minerals, and a 3-D map of the ore body. If you have time, and didn't arrive on foot, meander down back toward town. Unlike most of Juneau, Basin Road is flat and relatively quiet. The surrounding country is steep and wooded, with trails leading in all directions, including one to the summit of Mt. Juneau. At the base of the Perseverance Trail, not far from the museum, you can see the boarded-up opening to an old mining tunnel; even from a safe distance you can feel a chilly breeze wafting through the cracks.

1001 Basin Rd., Juneau, AK, 99801, USA
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Constructed in 1972 to resemble a traditional Tsimshian longhouse, this cedar structure serves as a gathering place for community events. Two totem poles stand in the back of the building, and a Northwest Coast design featuring the four Tsimshian clans—Raven, Eagle, Killer Whale, and Wolf—covers the front.

Margerie Glacier

The final destination for most tour vessels and cruise ships, charismatic Margerie frequently calves large chunks of ice off its 350-foot face. Unlike most of the world's glaciers, Margerie has maintained a relatively stable position over the past several years thanks to high precipitation levels in the Fairweather Mountains where it originates.

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Moore Cabin

Built in 1887 by Captain William Moore and his son Ben Moore, the tiny cabin was the first structure erected in Skagway. An early homesteader, Captain Moore prospered from the flood of miners, constructing a dock, warehouse, and sawmill to supply them, and selling land for other ventures. Next door, the larger Moore House (1897–98) contains interesting exhibits on the Moore family. Both structures are maintained by the Park Service, and the main house is open daily in summer.

Mt. Dewey

Despite the name, this landmark is more a hill than a peak. Still, it's a steep 15-minute climb up the John Muir Trail from town to the top. The observation platform there provides views of waterways and islands whose names—among them Zarembo, Vank, and Woronkofski—recall the area's Russian history. The trail is named for naturalist John Muir, who, in 1879, made his way up the trail and built a campfire. Locals didn't realize there was anybody up on Mt. Dewey and the light from the fire caused a commotion below. Access the trail, which passes through a second-growth forest, on 3rd Street behind the high school.

Nolan Center

The nexus of cultural life in Wrangell, the center houses the town's museum and visitor center as well as convention and performance facilities and a gift shop. Exhibits at the Wrangell Museum chronicle the region's rich history. On display here are the oldest known Tlingit house posts (dating from the late 18th century), decorative posts from Chief Shakes's clan house, petroglyphs, century-old spruce-root and cedar-bark baskets, masks, gold-rush memorabilia, and fascinating photographs. If you're spending any time in town, don't pass this up. The Wrangell Visitor Center, staffed when the museum is open, has information about local touring options.

Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park

Scattered among other rocks at this public beach are three dozen or more large stones bearing designs and pictures chiseled by unknown ancient artists. No one knows why the rocks at this curious site were etched the way they were, or even exactly how old the etchings are. You can access the beach via a boardwalk, where you'll find signs describing the site, along with carved replicas of the petroglyphs. Most of the petroglyphs are to the right between the viewing deck and a large outcropping of rock in the tidal beach area. Because the original petroglyphs can be damaged by physical contact, only photographs are permitted. But you are welcome to use the replicas to make a rubbing with rice paper and charcoal or crayons (available in local stores).

Port Chilkoot Distillery

Located in Ft. Seward in a renovated old bakery, the Port Chilkoot Distillery offers craft cocktails and samples of its locally made spirits, such as vodka, gin, and bourbon. As in other distilleries around the state, patrons are limited to two drinks on the premises.

Potlatch Totem Park

Walk along the waterfront and several forested paths to view striking examples of the monumental art form of totem pole carving, which is indigenous to Northwest Coast tribes. In addition to the totems, highlights include a carving shed where you can watch artists continue the work of their ancestors, a tribal house, and a large gift shop showcasing a wide range of authentic Native art. Also on the property are an antique car museum and antique firearm museum. Located adjacent to Totem Bight State Historical Park, Potlatch Park is 10 minutes north of town.

9809 Totem Bight Rd., Ketchikan, AK, USA
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Rainbow Falls

The trail to this scenic waterfall starts across the road from Shoemaker Bay, 5 miles south of Wrangell. A ¾-mile trail climbs uphill through the rain forest, with long stretches of boardwalk steps, ending at an overlook just below the falls. Hikers with more stamina can continue another 3 miles and 1,500 vertical feet to Shoemaker Bay Overlook.

Red Dog Saloon

The frontierish quarters of the Red Dog have housed an infamous Juneau watering hole since 1890. Nearly every conceivable surface in this two-story bar is cluttered with graffiti, business cards, and memorabilia, including a pistol that reputedly belonged to Wyatt Earp, who failed to reclaim the piece after checking it in at the U.S. Marshall's office on June 27, 1900. The saloon's food menu includes halibut, reindeer sausage, potato skins, burgers, and locally brewed beers. A little atmospheric sawdust covers the floor, and musicians pump out ragtime piano tunes when cruise ships are docked.

Russian Bishop's House

The Russian–American Company built this registered historic landmark for Bishop Innocent Veniaminov. Completed in 1843 and one of Alaska’s few remaining Russian-built log structures, the house, which faces the harbor, contains exhibits on the history of Russian America. In several places, portions of the structure are peeled away to expose Russian building techniques. The ground level is a free museum. The National Park Service operates the house and rangers lead guided tours of the second floor, which holds the residential quarters and a chapel.

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Salmon Ladder

Get out your camera and set it for high speed at the fish ladder, a series of pools arranged like steps that allow fish to travel upstream around a dam or falls. When the salmon start running, from June onward, thousands of fish leap the falls or take the easier fish-ladder route. They spawn in Ketchikan Creek's waters farther upstream. Many can also be seen in the creek's eddies above and below the falls. The falls, fish ladder, and a large carving of a jumping salmon are just off Park Avenue on Married Man's Trail. The trail was once used by married men for discreet access to the red-light district on Creek Street.

Saxman Totem Park

A 2½-mile paved walking path and bike trail parallels the road from Ketchikan to Saxman Native Village, named for a missionary who drowned while helping Native Alaskans establish a new settlement in the area in 1886. A totem park dominates the center of Saxman, with poles representing human- and animal-inspired figures, including bears, ravens, whales, and eagles. Saxman's Beaver Clan tribal house, which features a painted house screen by master carvers Nathan Jackson and Lee Wallace, is said to be the largest in Alaska. Carvers still create totem poles and totemic art objects in the adjacent carver's shed. You can visit the totem park on your own (on foot or by taxi, bicycle, or city bus), but to visit the tribal house and theater you must take a tour; book through Cape Fox Lodge.


Constructed as part of a long-range waterfront improvement plan, Juneau's Seawalk currently exists in two unconnected segments: the southern portion runs from the end of South Franklin Street to Marine Park, and the northern section extends along Egan Drive to the whale sculpture below the Juneau–Douglas Bridge. The southern Seawalk provides a calmer pedestrian alternative to the narrow, crowded sidewalks of South Franklin Street and includes the Juneau Visitor Center, the Mt. Roberts Tram building, and a statue of a beloved local dog named Patsy Ann. One section passes between the Taku Smokeries fish-processing plant and an offloading dock for fishermen, allowing an occasional glimpse of an industry that remains an important part of Alaskan life. The northern section of the Seawalk offers beautiful views of Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island; signage provides information on local history, flora, and fauna. At the end in Overstreet Park, Juneau's iconic whale sculpture rises above a fountain, providing the perfect backdrop for photos and an opportunity to rest up for the walk back.

Sheldon Jackson Museum

This octagonal museum that dates from 1895 contains priceless Alaska Native items collected by Dr. Sheldon Jackson (1834–1909), who traveled the remote regions of Alaska as an educator and missionary. The collection represents every Alaska Native culture. On display are carved masks, Chilkat blankets, dogsleds, kayaks, and even the impressive helmet worn by the famous Tlingit warrior Katlian during an 1804 battle against the Russians.

Shrine of St. Thérèse

If the crowds become overwhelming, and you have access to a vehicle, consider a visit to the Shrine of St. Thérèse, "out the road"—it's a peaceful site that's perfect for quiet contemplation. Built in the 1930s, this beautiful stone church and its 15 stations of the cross are the only structures on a serene tiny island accessible via a 400-foot-long pedestrian causeway. Visitors enjoy the Merciful Love Labyrinth, the black-granite Columbarium, and the floral gardens along the Good Shepherd Rosary Trail. Sunday services are held at 1:30 pm from June through August. For those wishing to explore the area for more than a few hours, the shrine offers a lodge and four rental cabins that run the gamut from rustic to resplendent. A round-trip taxi ride may cost $60 or more.

Sitka Historical Society and Museum

A Tlingit war canoe sits beside this brick building officially named Harrigan Centennial Hall. Check out the museum's collection of Tlingit, Victorian-era, and Alaska-purchase historical artifacts, including spruce-root basketry, nautical instruments, and mining tools.

Sitka Sound Science Center

The exhibits and activities at this waterfront facility highlight Sitka's role as a regional hub for whale biologists, fisheries-management experts, and other specialists. Attractions include a touch tank, five wall-mounted aquariums, a killer-whale skeleton, and a fish hatchery. Well-placed signs throughout this working science center describe what's going on, providing a great introduction for kids to hands-on environmental science.

Skagway Museum

This nicely designed museum—also known as the Trail of '98 Museum—occupies the ground floor of the beautiful building that also houses Skagway City Hall. Inside, you'll find a 19th-century Tlingit canoe (one of only two like it on the West Coast), historic photos, a red-and-black sleigh, and other gold rush–era artifacts, along with a healthy collection of contemporary local art and post–gold-rush history exhibits.

7th Ave. and Spring St., Skagway, AK, 99840, USA
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Sons of Norway Hall

Built in 1912, this large, white, barnlike structure just south of the Hammer Slough is the headquarters of an organization devoted to keeping alive the traditions and culture of Norway. Petersburg's Norwegian roots date back to 1897, when Peter Buschmann arrived and founded the Icy Strait Packing Company cannery. As his business and family flourished, others arrived to join them, many of Norwegian descent. By 1920, they and the area's Tlingit residents had established a year-round community of 600 residents. The hall, its red shutters decorated with colorful Norwegian rosemaling designs, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Outside sits a replica of a Viking ship that is a featured attraction in the annual Little Norway Festival each May. On the building's south side is a bronze tribute to deceased local fishermen.

South Franklin Street

The buildings on South Franklin Street and neighboring Front Street house curio and crafts shops, snack shops, and a salmon shop. Though some have fallen into disrepair, many reflect the architecture of the 1920s and 1930s; the older structures are located closer to the center of town. When the small Alaskan Hotel opened in 1913, Juneau was home to 30 saloons; the Alaskan gives today's visitors the most authentic glimpse of the town's whiskey-rich history—and, true to that history, is still a bit rough around the edges. Topped by a wood-shingled turret, the 1901 Alaska Steam Laundry Building now houses a toy store and other shops. The Senate Building, another of South Franklin's landmarks, is across the street.

S. Franklin St, Juneau, AK, 99801, USA

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

This impressive public lands interpretive center contains exhibits—including one on the rain forest—that focus on the resources, Native cultures, and ecosystems of Southeast. The U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies provide information on Alaska's public lands, and a large gift shop sells natural-history books, maps, and videos about the region's sights. America the Beautiful–National Park and Federal Recreational Land Passes are accepted and sold.

St. John's Episcopal Church

Completed in 1904 and Ketchikan's oldest house of worship, St. John's has an interior constructed of red cedar cut in the Native-operated sawmill in nearby Saxman. When cruise ships are in town, a docent is on hand to answer questions.

503 Mission St., Ketchikan, AK, 99901, USA

St. Michael's Cathedral

One of Southeast's best-known landmarks, the onion-dome cathedral is so treasured by locals that in 1966, as a fire engulfed the building, townspeople risked their lives and rushed inside to rescue precious Russian icons, religious objects, and vestments. An almost exact replica of St. Michael's was completed in 1976. Today you can view what may well be the largest collection of Russian icons in the United States, among them Our Lady of Sitka (also known as the Sitka Madonna) and the Christ Pantocrator (Christ the World Judge), displayed on the altar screen.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Newly baptized Orthodox Natives and Siberian gold miners built what's now Southeast's oldest Russian church in 1894. Refurbished in the late 1970s, the onion-dome white-and-blue structure is a national historic landmark. Services sung in Slavonic, English, and Tlingit take place on weekends. A small visitor center and gift shop are located next door in the rectory.

The Rock

Ketchikan is known for its public art, and this bronze monument by local artist Dave Rubin provides a striking introduction. The Rock (2010) depicts seven life-size figures representative of Ketchikan's history: a Tlingit drummer, a logger, a miner, a fisherman, an aviator, a pioneer woman, and Tlingit chief George Johnson (the sculpture's only specific portrayal). The piece is located on the waterfront next to the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau. For a complete listing of Ketchikan's public art, galleries, museums, and cultural organizations, pick up a copy of Art Lives Here, the bureau's free guide.

Front and Mill Sts., Ketchikan, AK, 99901, USA

Tongass Historical Museum

Native artifacts and pioneer relics revisit the mining and fishing eras at this museum in the same building as the library. Exhibits include a big, brilliantly polished lens from Tree Point Lighthouse, well-presented Native tools and artwork, and photography collections. Other exhibits are temporary, but always include Tlingit items.

Totem Heritage Center

Gathered from Tlingit and Haida village sites, many of the Native totems in the center's collection are well over a century old—a rare age for cedar carvings, which are eventually lost to decay in Southeast's exceedingly wet climate. Other work by Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian artists is also on display inside the facility, and outside stand several more poles carved in the three decades since it opened. The center offers guided tours and hosts classes, workshops, and seminars related to Northwest Coast Native art and culture.

Totem Square

On this grassy square across the street from the Sitka Pioneer Home are three anchors discovered in local waters and believed to be of 19th-century British origin. Look for the double-headed eagle of czarist Russia carved into the cedar of the park's totem pole.