KETCHIKAN, almost seven hundred miles north of Seattle, is the first port of call for cruise ships and ferries and its historic downtown, wedged between water and forested mountains, becomes saturated in summer. Beyond the souvenir shops it’s delightful, built into steep hills and partly propped on wooden pilings, dotted with boardwalks, wooden staircases and totem poles.
By 1886, the town’s numerous canneries made it the “salmon capital of the world”, while forests of cedar, hemlock and spruce fed its sawmills. Ketchikan now looks to tourism as its saviour, with the nearby Misty Fiords National Monument as the prime draw. The state’s fourth largest city is a strong contender for the nation’s wettest; annual precipitation averages 165 inches, but the perennial drizzle and sporadic showers won’t spoil your visit.