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Ketchikan for 3.5 days in April or fly to JNU as well?

Ketchikan for 3.5 days in April or fly to JNU as well?

Old Jun 17, 16, 8:38 am
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Ketchikan for 3.5 days in April or fly to JNU as well?

Hi, looking for some advice on my next planned Alaska excursion. We're flying in and out of Ketchikan next Easter weekend. Going CMH-LAX-SEA-KTN on Thursday morning, leaving CMH 7:00 AM arriving KTN 4:40 PM. This is obviously a brutal day of travel. Coming back Monday KTN-SEA-ORD-CMH in one shot, which is slightly better- more direct and going the "quick" way west-to-east.

I would slightly prefer to hit JNU instead of KTN, but all available options go through KTN on the way to JNU, making our flights even longer both ways.

I also have (refundable AS award) flights booked KTN-JNU-SIT-KTN on Friday night coming back Sunday morning, so we could spend 2 nights in Ketchikan and 2 nights in Juneau. I'm concerned, though, that this is just way, way too much flying for a 5 day excursion when 2 entire days are already killed going CMH-KTN-CMH.

Adding to my concern is the fact that KTN is on another island and requires the ferry. Do I really want to take that ferry 4 times (instead of just 2) to hit JNU as well?

Basically, it comes down to this: will there be enough stuff to keep us occupied in Ketchikan in April for 3.5 days (Thursday night, full days Friday/Saturday/Sunday)? I booked this trip in April expressly to avoid the cruise ship rubes/kettles, but I realize that also comes with a tradeoff, that being not a whole lot of touristy stuff open and very few, if any, tours/boats running.

I'm looking forward to seeing Creek Street, taking the funicular, climbing Deer Mountain, and hitting the Alaska Fish House and Annabelle's for seafood (they'll both be open in April, right?). Also want to go to the totem parks (Totem Blight and Saxman) and interested in attending the "Monthly Grind" on Sat. night if we don't go to Juneau.

Also, if we blow off JNU this time, we'll probably just hit JNU separately on another 2017 or 2018 trip. I'm obsessed with Alaska, so it's not like we won't be back.

TLDR: Should I go CMH-LAX-SEA-KTN-JNU-SIT-KTN-SEA-ORD-CMH in 5 days or just CMH-LAX-SEA-KTN-SEA-ORD-CMH?
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Old Jun 17, 16, 12:24 pm
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Silly question I suppose, but have you been to SE Alaska in April? We're talking seriously dismal weather, difficult flying conditions, and minimal things to do in the rain. I'd include Juneau if only for a change of scenery. Do you plan to have a car in either area?
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Old Jun 17, 16, 1:04 pm
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Yes, I'm definitely prepared for rain, although surprisingly, April is one of the driest months of the year in Ketchikan. It's actually the 4th driest month, historically:

http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate...tates/usak0125

So I'm remotely optimistic we may only get some, rather than torrents, of rain. I also considered the weather when debating the JNU excursion. It's a tough airport to land at in perfect conditions, so I would be concerned about delays and getting socked in there (or in KTN) and have it really disrupt the trip.

I also thought about cars, and I've decided that if we stay in KTN the whole time, I'll likely rent a car for at least a day so we can explore the island. I know the bus system is good there, but I think it would be worth renting a car, even with the lack of extensive roads.

I also thought a good day excursion from KTN would be the ferry to Metlakatla and back, which I've always wanted to see. That also gets us on a boat, which is great since the touristy boats won't be running in April.
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Old Jun 19, 16, 5:17 pm
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I would recommend Juneau over Ketchikan, unless there is something in Ketchikan specifically you'd like to see. Juneau will have many more things to do in the offseason, and will also provide you with much better flight options in case the weather gets bad.
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Old Jun 19, 16, 6:46 pm
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The KTN airport ferry is only a 5-10 minute ride or so, wouldn't add a ton of time to getting to the airport. I'd consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to or from Juneau instead of flying. Even in poor weather conditions it's an incredible ride with amazing scenery.
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Old Jun 20, 16, 10:39 pm
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As a born and raised Ketchikanite, I can guarantee Annabelle's and the Fish House will be open. I'd also recommend Bar Harbor Restaurant; it's moved locations and has a great menu, seafood and otherwise. The Westmark tram (funicular) has been kaput for a while now. I'm not sure when they plan on fixing it, but it seems to be down a lot more in the last few years.

All of the totem parks and museums will be open in April and the Monthly Grind is a fun event; there's also usually a community play or ballet going on in April. Some of the more adventure type things won't be available (zip lining, kayak tours, any of the big tour companies), but the marinas are open, if you want to rent a boat in the rain.

I think I'd also recommend a visit to Juneau though, since they've just opened up two new beautiful cultural centers (Sealaska and the new Alaska State Museum). It's really a short flight. The ferry is also awesome, but it can be really difficult to get the dates to line up, since they've really cut down on the routes. It's about a 20 hour ride to Juneau with some gorgeous scenery though it can take longer depending on the number and length of stops. As much as I love Ketchikan, it can be a quiet place and Juneau has some amazing options for dining, sightseeing, etc.
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Old Jun 21, 16, 10:32 am
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Wow, thank you everyone, and especially KTownGirl for the (local) insights. I also see that there's the annual Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan every April which might also be fun. At this point I'm leaning towards forgoing Juneau (but definitely heading back there for a separate trip later on in the year or 2018) and doing 4 nights in KTN. Also, I think we'll definitely rent a car to explore Ketchikan and Metlakatla/Annette Island.
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Old Jun 21, 16, 9:38 pm
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You might also think about taking the Inter-Island Ferry to Prince of Wales island for a day or two. They've done a lot of work on the roads and it's a good place to see wildlife (deer at least!) and see more of rural Alaska, if you're into that sort of thing. Though it might be easier to fly over and take the ferry back.

http://www.interislandferry.com
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Old Jun 22, 16, 3:25 pm
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Thanks, yes, I also thought about that, but the PoW ferry seems mostly designed for people to get to, rather than from, Ketchikan. It leaves Hollis at about 11 AM and returns to Hollis later that afternoon. There doesn't seem to be a way to get to PoW and back without spending the night over there, and the accommodations on PoW seem a bit... rustic.

I'm planning right now on two nights at the Cape Fox Lodge and two nights at the Black Bear Inn, both of which seem to be about the most "luxury" hotels on the island. Anyone have any experience at either of these or the Best Western Landing, which appears to be about the only chain hotel there?
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Old Jun 30, 16, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries View Post
Thanks, yes, I also thought about that, but the PoW ferry seems mostly designed for people to get to, rather than from, Ketchikan. It leaves Hollis at about 11 AM and returns to Hollis later that afternoon. There doesn't seem to be a way to get to PoW and back without spending the night over there, and the accommodations on PoW seem a bit... rustic.

I'm planning right now on two nights at the Cape Fox Lodge and two nights at the Black Bear Inn, both of which seem to be about the most "luxury" hotels on the island. Anyone have any experience at either of these or the Best Western Landing, which appears to be about the only chain hotel there?
Cape Fox is nice. IMO, it's the best large hotel in Southeast Alaska (definitely nicer than anything in Juneau). Rooms aren't super luxurious but they are good enough, and the lobby area is very pleasant. Good restaurant and bar, too.

I can also vouch for Bar Harbor Restaurant as being a good place for dinner. About a 15-20 minute walk from Cape Fox.
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Old Jun 30, 16, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Silly question I suppose, but have you been to SE Alaska in April? We're talking seriously dismal weather, difficult flying conditions, and minimal things to do in the rain. I'd include Juneau if only for a change of scenery. Do you plan to have a car in either area?
Your description sounds a lot more like October-March. April, especially later in the month, isn't a whole lot different from the rest of summer in SE. Temps maybe a bit cooler than the summer months, but that's about it.
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Old Jun 30, 16, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by nineworldseries View Post
Yes, I'm definitely prepared for rain, although surprisingly, April is one of the driest months of the year in Ketchikan. It's actually the 4th driest month, historically:

http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate...tates/usak0125

So I'm remotely optimistic we may only get some, rather than torrents, of rain. I also considered the weather when debating the JNU excursion. It's a tough airport to land at in perfect conditions, so I would be concerned about delays and getting socked in there (or in KTN) and have it really disrupt the trip.

I also thought about cars, and I've decided that if we stay in KTN the whole time, I'll likely rent a car for at least a day so we can explore the island. I know the bus system is good there, but I think it would be worth renting a car, even with the lack of extensive roads.

I also thought a good day excursion from KTN would be the ferry to Metlakatla and back, which I've always wanted to see. That also gets us on a boat, which is great since the touristy boats won't be running in April.
Couple of things...

1. Yes, rent a car, unless you want to stand around in the rain waiting for a bus. A car will also get you to the end of the road in either direction, and at the north end there is some good hiking if the weather is decent. Plus Totem Bight is worth a stop.

2. Don't sweat the airport ferry. It's a minor nuisance if the deckhand is in a bad mood and makes you park your car on the narrow side of the ferry, but otherwise it's simple and quick.
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Old Jul 4, 16, 12:47 am
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If you do get a car on the airport side, leave some time before your departing flight to drive the "road to nowhere," which is a 3.2 mile road on Gravina (the airport island) that meets the landing where the infamous Bridge to Nowhere was supposed to be built.
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Old Jul 19, 16, 1:02 pm
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Yep, decided to just stay in Ketchikan. Planning to explore the area and also Gravina Island and Annette Island by car. Planning to book two nights at the Cape Fox Lodge and two nights at the Best Western Plus Landing.
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Old Oct 1, 16, 6:21 pm
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Uh. Which ferry are you talking about? To get from the airport to town is all of 5 minutes. Not really sure what you're going to do for 3.5 days over Easter weekend? Good luck. If you're expecting a "festival" re the Hummingbird festival, you might be a little disappointed....

You're also vastly overestimating traveling via jet in SE AK. It's not the middle of winter and it's only a 30 minute plane ride between KTN and JNU.

Nothing on Creek Street is going to be open and Annabelles is expensive frozen food. (I've eaten there way, way too many times.)

Last edited by CBear; Oct 1, 16 at 6:27 pm
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