Can you Drive to Ketchikan Alaska?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to drive directly to the beautiful city of Ketchikan in Alaska as it doesn’t have any road links to the mainland. Ketchikan is situated on Revillagigedo Island, and there are no bridges or road connections from the island to the U.S. mainland.

Revillagigedo Island is located at the southern end of the Inside Passage, a remote and inaccessible part of Alaska. The only way to reach the area is either by flying or taking a ferry from a neighboring coastal community or from further afield, such as Bellingham in Washington.

The Alaska Marine Highway System and the Inter-Island Ferry service operate regular vehicle ferries that stop at Ketchikan. So it is possible to bring your vehicle to Ketchikan for future onward travel, but only with the aid of one of the ferry networks. 

Where is Ketchikan Located in Alaska?

Ketchikan is located in the southeastern part of Alaska in the United States. It is situated on Revillagigedo Island, part of the Alexander Archipelago, a group of islands extending along the coast of southeastern Alaska. Ketchikan is often called the “Gateway to Southeast Alaska” because it is a popular starting point for visitors from the Contiguous United States. 

Ketchikan Map

How to get to Ketchikan in Alaska


There is no way to travel by road to Ketchikan as Revillagigedo Island, where it is located, is completely isolated from the mainland. There are no bridges or road connections, meaning the only way to reach Ketchikan with a vehicle in tow is by traveling by ferry.

As Ketchikan is part of a network of islands, it is possible to travel to other cities and towns within the Southeast Alaska region. The Tongass Highway, Alaska Route 7, provides a paved road to neighboring communities such as Saxman, Ward Cove, and Metlakatla. 


Ketchikan is well served by two ferry services that cover south-eastern Alaska. The Alaska Marine Highway System is the largest service, with 13 vessels and 30 destinations along the Alaskan coast. The service extends from Bellingham in Washington to Dutch Harbour. It offers year-round services to Ketchikan several times a week.

The second service is the Inter-Island Ferry service between Hollis on Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan. The relatively short journey of 36 miles takes around 3 hours to complete. The ferry departs daily throughout the year. 


Flying into Ketchikan is an increasingly popular option. The city is served by Ketchikan International Airport (KTN), located on the adjacent Gravina Island, just west of Ketchikan. Several major airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines, serve the airport. The airlines offer regular flights to and from major cities in the region, such as Seattle and Juneau, and other regional airports.

In addition to the mainstream commercial airlines, several charter companies offer flights to Ketchikan. The airport also facilitates many floatplane services that can take you to more remote locations. Floatplane tours are a popular way to see the stunning scenery of the Tongass National Forest and the Misty Fjords National Monument.

Like many destinations in Alaska, traveling to Ketchikan is neither cheap nor easy. That being said, the end destination more than justifies the effort and costs involved. Regardless of how you travel to Ketchikan, it’s well worth booking in advance to guarantee availability and the best price possible. 


Best Things to see and do in Ketchikan

There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Ketchikan and the wider area. If you’ve got the time and the budget, you can easily be kept busy for a week or longer. Here are 10 of the top things to do in the greater Ketchikan area:

  1. Visit the Tongass Historical Museum: This museum showcases the history and culture of Ketchikan and the surrounding region. It has exhibits on local industries, Native Alaskan art and artifacts, and the city’s role in the Alaska Gold Rush.

  2. Go fishing: Ketchikan is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” and numerous fishing charters are available. You can try to catch salmon, halibut, and various other fish.

  3. Take a scenic flightseeing tour: Ketchikan is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in Alaska, including the Misty Fjords National Monument. A flightseeing tour by floatplane or helicopter is a great way to see this natural beauty up close.

  4. Explore the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary: This wildlife sanctuary is outside Ketchikan and offers guided tours through the Tongass National Forest. Here, you’ll have opportunities to see bald eagles, black bears, and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

  5. Take a zipline tour: Several zipline tours are available in Ketchikan, offering a thrilling way to experience the rainforest canopy from above.

  6. Visit Creek Street: This historic boardwalk is built on pilings over Ketchikan Creek and is home to various shops, galleries, and restaurants.

  7. See the totem poles: Ketchikan is home to several totem pole parks, including the Totem Heritage Center, where you can learn about the history and artistry of these traditional Native Alaskan carvings.

  8. Visit the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center: This interpretive center provides information about the natural and cultural history of the region. It has exhibits on the flora and fauna of the Tongass National Forest, the traditional cultures of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people, and the history of the Alaska Gold Rush.

  9. Take a sea kayaking tour: Several companies offer guided sea kayaking tours around Ketchikan. These tours provide a unique perspective on the natural beauty of the region.

  10. Go on a whale-watching tour: Ketchikan is located on the Inside Passage, a popular feeding ground for humpback whales, orcas, and other marine mammals. Several whale-watching tours offer the chance to see these majestic creatures up close.

Best Time to Visit Ketchikan in Alaska

The best time to visit Ketchikan, Alaska, is during the summer months, from June to August. Inevitably, this is also the peak tourist season, as the weather is relatively warm and the days are long, with up to 18 hours of daylight. During this time, you can enjoy many outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, kayaking, and wildlife watching. Availability of transport and tours can be limited at this time, and prices are usually higher.

If you don’t mind cooler temperatures and prefer fewer crowds, you could also consider visiting Ketchikan in the shoulder seasons of May or September. During these months, the weather can be more variable, but you’ll likely find lower prices on accommodations and activities and fewer tourists to contend with.

The winter months in Ketchikan tend to be cold and very wet, with limited daylight hours. Many tourist-focused businesses shut down at this time as well. It all combines to make the winter a relatively unappealing time to visit. 

Related Content

Can you Drive to Alaska?

Seattle to North Cascades

Can you Drive to Juneau Alaska?

Vancouver to Cabo Road Trip

Can you Drive to Vancouver Island?

Best National Parks to Visit in June

Can you Drive to Nome Alaska?

Latest Blog Posts

Can you Drive to Morocco?

You can drive to Morocco from the neighboring countries of Spain and Mauritania, but not Algeria, despite a nearly 2000 km long border between the two countries. Travel between Morocco and any of its neighbors comes with its fair share of challenges. At first glance, you could be mistaken for

10 Best National Parks in Western Australia

If you love solitude, amazing landscapes, and vast open spaces, you’re going to love Western Australia. This amazing land, and the northwest in particular, is often referred to as the ‘Last Frontier’. It’s a land of endless remote possibilities and nowhere showcases this better than the amazing array of national

17 Best Things to do in Vlore

The Albanian port city of Vlore is one of Albania’s spectacular coastal highlights. Situated at the northern end of the Albanian Riviera and overlooking the beautiful Bay of Vlore, the city is blessed with a wealth of attractions. The home of Albanian independence and the gateway to the Riviera, the