Floatplane with Alaska Inside Passage mountains in background
Photo Credit: ATIA

The Inside Passage Explorer

The Inside Passage Explorer

Sample almost every major community up and down the Inside Passage in this comprehensive but unhurried seven-day itinerary of can’t-miss attractions like glaciers, wildlife, Alaska Native culture, and dramatic scenery.

Day 1: Ketchikan

Arrive in Ketchikan, Alaska’s first port of call, via air, cruise ship, or Alaska Marine Highway state ferry. Pick up a walking tour map and explore downtown attractions including historical Creek Street, the Tongass Historical Museum, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, and unique local art galleries and shops. Spend the night in Ketchikan.

Day 2: Ketchikan to Sitka

In the morning, choose a half-day guided sportfishing trip or flightseeing excursion to the 2.3-million-acre Misty Fjords National Monument. As the name implies, Misty Fjords is filled with majestic, steep-walled glacier fjords. In the afternoon, take a commercial flight to Sitka.

Day 3: Sitka

Tour historical St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House in what was once the Russian capital of Alaska, then book a van tour with local guides to see the sites where Tlingit tribes successfully resisted the Russian occupation. Other must-see attractions include the collection of late-1800s Alaska Native artifacts at the Sheldon Jackson Museum, totem poles and a cultural center for Alaska Native artists at Sitka National Historical Park, and the Alaska Raptor Center where you can have up-close encounters with bald eagles and other birds of prey.

Day 4: Sitka to Juneau 

Take the fast ferry or fly to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Don’t miss the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier and its visitor center; you can easily spend a full afternoon here. Other popular attractions include the recently renovated Alaska State Museum and the Wickersham State Historic Site, which offers a glimpse into Alaska’s territorial days and the life of a swashbuckling, mountain-climbing judge.

Day 5: Juneau

Pick from dozens of adventure tours including sea kayaking, rafting, ziplining, whale watching, and glacier trekking, or hike one of Juneau’s numerous trails. Make sure you leave time to wander the many locally owned shops and museums in the historical downtown area, just a few blocks from the cruise ship docks. Juneau’s pretty downtown area also makes a great photo op, with the buildings and orderly streets rising to meet a backdrop of dramatic green mountains.

Day 6: Juneau to Haines

Enjoy a morning ferry cruise to Haines; keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, sea otters, bald eagles, and other wildlife along the way. Once in Haines, two of the biggest attractions are historical Fort Seward, an early-1900s fortification whose buildings have been assimilated into the town; cultural tours to the nearby Tlingit town of Klukwan; and visits to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Spend the night in Haines.

Day 7: Haines to Skagway to Juneau

Take a ferry or water taxi to Skagway, about an hour out of Haines. Here, you can walk the wide, frontier-era boardwalks of the state’s most-visited national park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Ride in one of the vintage train cars of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, a historical narrow-gauge railroad for an unusual look into Gold Rush history, at times traveling close to footpaths early prospectors wore into the rocks. Consider spending a night in Skagway before you return to Juneau via fast ferry or air taxi and from there, start your journey home.

Optional Add-On: Wrangell and Petersburg

From Ketchikan, hop on a ferry, jet, or air taxi to visit the small communities of Wrangell and Petersburg. In Wrangell, take an exhilarating jet-boat ride up the Stikine River or visit Petroglyph Beach State Historic Site to view prehistoric rock carvings. In Petersburg, also known as “Little Norway,” you can see the traditional, flowery Norwegian artwork known as rosemaling on the buildings, streets, and souvenirs, and enjoy a spectacular whale watching trip or an excursion to the LeConte Glacier.


Alaska: AKA Your Next Adventure

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