Misty Fjords of Ketchikan, Alaska

The Misty Fjords is a wilderness area in southeastern Alaska about 40 miles east of Ketchikan. The area is a labyrinth of fjords and home to an abundance of wildlife. It is designated as a  national monument and wilderness area administered by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Tongass National Forest.

We had booked an excursion to see the Misty Fjords during our stop in Ketchikan, via our cruise ship, the Celebrity Infinity.  We got picked up straight from the dock on to one of Allen Marine’s fast catamaran boats. The boat slowly  cruised until it was out of the harbour, then picked up speed. It was a wet, rainy and overcast day. Perfect weather to see the “Misty” fjords in all its glory.

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Soon we were cruising along the Revillagigeodo channel at 40 miles per hour. At this speed  the wind really hits you in the face and you have to hold on to something to keep you steady on the deck. If you prefer there are plenty of seats inside too.

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On the way, we stopped to look at a bald eagle nest, and there was a lot of excitement as one of the passengers spotted a bear. The boat did a 180 degree turn with surprising speed and agility to get another look, but by the time it did, the bear had disappeared.

After about an hour of cruising, we had turned into the Behm Canal and  come to the New Eddystone Rock.  This is a pillar of basalt and was part of a volcanic vent where magma rose repeatedly to the surface of the earth. After the basalt flows covered the floor of Behm Canal, another glacial advance pushed away much of the flow, leaving behind New Eddystone Rock and some of the islands to the northeast.

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Shortly after the Eddystone Rock, we turned into Rudyerd Bay, our entry into the Misty Fjords.

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It is unlike any other place I have been before.  The sheer granite cliffs rise upto 3000 feet from the water.  Wisps of clouds cover the cliff tops.  A narrow channel of water flows in between the cliffs. Waterfalls come tumbling down the cliffs. As the boat slowed down and made its way forward, we were entering a world of myths and legends.

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You could do a full 360 turn and the way you came looks exactly the same as the way forward. If not for the flow of water, it would be impossible to know which way is which and you could easily get lost in here. You never know what’s around the corner – a cove? a water fall? a cliff?

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We were also lucky enough to spot some new born seal pups and their mother. The closed coves provide protection to new born seal pups from Orca whales, so this is a popular breeding ground. After spending a while sailing into the Fijords,  it was time to go out. I wish we could have gone on forever.

As we made out way back to Ketchikan, the local Tinglit guide regaled us with stories and customs of the Tinglit people. They also served up some delicious soups. We also heard about the local fishing industry and had the chance to try some Ketchikan Salmon.

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4.5 hours after we left the ship, we were back. We got some great views of Ketchikan (and the ship) from the water.

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Although we explored the Misty Fjords by boat, a lot of people explore it by sea plane. There are pros and cons to both methods, and I’ve jotted down a few pros and cons of the trip we did.

Pros: 

  • The entire trip was very comfortable and luxurious. There were free drinks throughout the trip, soup on the way back and the chance to sample some local salmon. There were also high spec binoculars and field guide provided for the trip.
  • You have a better chance of seeing wildlife close-up from a boat than a place.
  • You get to see the fjords from the water, and let the mountains and the clouds envelope you. I’m not sure you would get the same feeling going by plane.
  • We heard that sometimes due to low clouds or adverse weather plane trips are cancelled, but the boat trip are rarely cancelled.
  • Cost at 179.99 USD. (It is pricey, but cheaper than the float plane, which is upwards for $200 USD)

Cons:

  • The trip took over 4 hours. About half of this was cruising out of Ketchikan and getting to the misty fjords.  Add the time to get of the ship and get back on the ship, this didn’t leave us anytime to explore the port in Ketchikan. The plane trip on the other hand lasts around 2 hours.
  • Going by boat, you don’t get the birds eye view that you would from the plane. This means you don’t see what’s at the top of the cliffs – as I found out later, there are many hidden lakes and valleys at the top of the cliffs. Also with the plane you would be able to cover a larger area of the fjords.

I can fully comprehend why the Misty Fjords are known as the Yosemite of the North. It is one of the few places I’ve been so far that can’t be fully expressed in a picture (or in words for that matter). You need to be there and see it for yourself to believe that such a mythical place really exists.

This post is a part of #farawayfiles on 21st October 2016 with Oregon Girl Around the World, Suitcases and Sandcastles and Untold Morsels

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I’m linking this post to #WanderfulWednesday:

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32 comments

  1. This is so gorgeous and reminds me of what beauty we have in the American borders! It looks a LOT like Norwegian fjords, but with MORE wildlife! Sounds great to me. Thank you for sharing – a perfect piece for this week’s #FarawayFiles! Can’t wait to see where you take us this week – cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

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  2. This looks and sounds like an incredible experience. I think I’d like to see it all from the sea – as you did. Thanks for linking up with #FarawayFiles.

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  3. We got back from an Alaskan cruise a couple of weeks ago too! We were on the Norwegian Jewel, we probably crossed paths at some point without even realising it. I’m going to read the rest of your posts now! I haven’t started recapping mine because I kind of don’t know where to begin. We actually decided to do the floatplane, and it was amazing. I agree with most of your pros and cons, though, except we did land in the water for a bit so we got a brief perspective with all the cliffs around us. No drinks or snacks though…

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    1. Oh wow! We went earlier in the season. I look forward to reading your posts. It will be great to compare notes. I think going by float plane is a very good idea. You simply don’t get the view otherwise. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. This looks absolutely amazing!! I actually took a cruise on the Celebrity Infinity years and years ago! Back then it was crusing the Caribbean though! How funny! I hoping to do a cruise around Alaska one day as it seems like a great way to see a lot in a little time. I’ll hve to keep up with your posts about it 😀

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    1. It’s a small word indeed. Did you like the Infinity? They had a done a refit recently, to the top deck was all new (although we couldn’t spend much time there – it was very cold!). Cruising in Alaska is great – only downside was that I felt we didn’t have enough time in some ports – no matter how much you see, there’s always more 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Wow! Look at those views! I feel like Alaska is still very much untouched and would love to visit and explore at some point. Love the idea of touring around by boat – I’m be a little too nervous about flying in a small plane. Big planes, I’m cool with. Small planes, not so much haha.

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    1. The areas are quite remote indeed. Some of them are only reachable by boat or plane, so if you like travelling by water, its a great place to go. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. I’ve been to Iceland and I think I actually prefer Iceland to Alaska – I think it is because in Iceland, there is so much to see in a smaller space, whereas Alaska, its all spread out. It’s still fabulous though – you can watch glaciers for hours. I’d love to go to Greenland one day! Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. I’m sure she will. It is a fantastic experience. I have a few other posts about other stops we made on the cruise – Juneau, Icy strait point, and hubbard glacier as well. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

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