If you’re searching for a true travel nursing adventure, look no further than Alaska. Nicknamed “The Last Frontier,” Alaska is our nation’s largest and northernmost state, featuring some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world. People come from across the globe to experience its exhilarating environment and culture; Alaska hosted over 2 million tourists in 2019.
Alaska, which is larger than California, Montana, and Texas combined, is full of stunning mountain ranges and wildlife. It’s also the home of many incredible glaciers, rivers, and millions (yes, millions) of natural lakes. The state is also home to a fascinating variety of cultures and ways of life, including multiple Native American and indigenous peoples. In fact, Alaska recognizes 20 official indigenous languages.
The southernmost point of the state features a region named the Inside Passage, an area that’s famous for its jaw-dropping scenery. The Inside Passage, according to Travel Alaska, features “wildlife-filled fjords,” “lush island scenery,” and “mountains carpeted with majestic forests.”
At the southern tip of the Inside Passage, nestled within the Tongass National Forest and along the Pacific Coast, is Ketchikan, a fantastic GIFTED travel nursing destination.
We’ve created a list of reasons to visit Ketchikan and explore the wonders of the Inside Passage. Read on for 5 reasons to take a travel nursing adventure in Ketchikan, Alaska!
1. Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest is the largest temperate rainforest in the world and the largest national forest in the United States, spanning across 500 miles of Southeast Alaska. It is easily accessible from Ketchikan and offers a unique chance to see the world-famous wildlife of the state: bears, salmon, and eagles. The forest has many trails for hiking and biking, streams for fishing, sled-dog riding on glaciers, and plenty of cabins for camping.
The forest also offers visitor centers for various wildlife activities. The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and Steep Creek Bear Viewing Area in Juneau, Anan Wildlife Observatory in Wrangell, Fish Creek Bear Viewing Area in Hyder, or Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island provide rare views of the forest’s pristine wilderness. In addition, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan features a Native Traditions exhibit that provides an immersive look at the ancient cultures of Alaska whose traditions have been preserved for thousands of years.
2. Tongass Historical Museum & Totem Heritage Center
The Tongass Historical Museum is located in the heart of Ketchikan, offering a fascinating history of Alaska’s First City through dynamic exhibits of photographs, art and artifacts. Historic items and photographs tell the authentic tale of Ketchikan as a Native fish camp, gold and copper mining center, fishing port, timber town, cannery site, transportation hub, and lively community.
The Totem Heritage Center houses the world’s largest collection of totem poles, and preserves the living artistic traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples that have called Alaska home for centuries. The staff and interpretive panels at the center help visitors gain a historical context with which to approach contemporary totem poles and the cultural traditions present in our community, allowing visitors to practice Native arts to inspire cultural understanding.
The Tongass Historical Museum and Totem Heritage Center are located on the traditional lands of the Taant´a Kwáan and Sanyaa Kwáan people of the Tlingit First Nations.
Did you know that Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World? Every year, giant groups of salmon migrate from the open ocean into the city’s protected waters.
Visitors who enjoy fishing will be in paradise here. Local guides offer chartered fishing excursions, where you can catch a wide variety of species: king salmon, silver salmon, halibut, red snapper, rainbow trout, and more. Fishing guides are not essential, though. You can rent a boat and explore on your own, too!
4. Sightseeing Tours
Seeing the sights is easy in Ketchikan. There are so many ways to get around: motor coach, boat, van, car, taxi, trolley, or try a guided walking tour
Ketchikan is home to many tour companies. Aurora Tours offers cultural tours given by a “local Tlingit Indian,” which visits the totem parks and nearby rainforest of the Tongass forest. Eagle One Enterprises offers a Premier Land and Sea package that provides a full Alaskan experience of scenic views, Dungeness crabs, Black Bear viewing, and local Ketchikan landmarks.
Or, travel 40 miles south to visit the Misty Fjords National Monument, a natural formation of sea cliffs, waterfalls, steep fjords and rock walls that rise nearly 3,000 feet straight out of the ocean. Tours here are given two ways: on a floatplane, offering a breathtaking bird’s eye view of this incredible area, or by boat, where you can experience the fjords up-close-and-personal.
5. Local Art Museums & Galleries
Ketchikan is home to a large and diverse population of artists who find inspiration in the scenic beauty and history of the town. More than 350 of Ketchikan’s residents are registered artists, and their work can be seen in many locations around the city.
Alaska Fine Art is family-run fine art gallery featuring sculptor Eddie Lee. His sculptures highlight Pacific Northwest wildlife like bears, eagles, octopii, mermaids, mammoths, and whales, as well as silver, gold, and fossil jewelry.
The Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council is a non-profit organization established in 1953. It features many talented local artists and hosts annual events like the Blueberry Arts Festival.
The Scanlon Gallery is home to the largest selection of Alaskan artists, featuring original works of art, prints, pottery, sculptures & hand-crafted jewelry and gifts as well as framing services.
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