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Visiting the First City, Overlooked by Majestic Deer Mountain: Ketchikan, Alaska

Updated on January 30, 2020
State flag of Alaska
State flag of Alaska | Source
Ketchikan, Alaska from Deer Mountain
Ketchikan, Alaska from Deer Mountain | Source

A towering vantage point over Alaska's Inside Passage

Overlooking the Alaskan city long known as First City is the majestic Deer Mountain. At 915 metres / 3,001.97 feet, it towers over Ketchikan which nestles at sea-level on Alaska's Inner Passage.

Leading also to the landmark for which it is named, the Deer Mountain National Recreation Trail, located in the Tongass National Forest.

Popular with hikers, Deer Mountain has a 4.8 kilometre / 3 mile trail, from the trailhead to the summit. Much of the Trail is under dense forest cover and hikers must exercise care over very wet and slippery conditions which prevail. Alpine conditions predominate, however, on the last fifth part of the Trail before the summit of Deer Mountain. A forest service cabin is located a short distance from the summit.

The optimum months during which to use the Trail from June to September. Among the biggest hazards along the trail are loose rocks (2).

Wildlife such as wolves, mountain goats and even black bears are known to have been sighted close to the trail towards the Deer Mountain summit. Bald eagles and ravens are often seen.

Ketchikan and Deer Mountain are situated on Revillagigedo Island, named for Viceroy of New Spain, Juan Vicente de Güemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo (1738-1799)(2).

Alaska's Denali / Mount McKinley — the highest peak in North America — is of course a lot more well known than Deer Mountain; on a clear day Denali Mount McKinley can be seen from Alaska's largest city, Anchorage. However, First City — as Ketchikan has historically been known — is itself overlooked by towering Deer Mountain, which is in much closer proximity than its taller counterpart in the Anchorage region: a majestic landmark which is truly hard to miss.

January 31, 2020


(1) See also: ;

(2) See also:

(3) Revillagigedo Island lies within Alaska's Alexander Archipelago. Please note also that the Island — in the singular — is not to be confused with the Revillagigedo Islands — in the plural — situated off the coast of Mexico.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Deer Mountain;  this image was taken in Ketchikan, Alaska on January 17, 2019
Deer Mountain; this image was taken in Ketchikan, Alaska on January 17, 2019 | Source

Also worth seeing

In Ketchikan itself, visitors to the city often frequent the many gift stores specializing in Native Alaskan and other artwork; First Lutheran Church in Newtown was built in 1930 principally on account of the city's Norwegian population; St. John's Episcopal Church dates from 1904; the city is well known for its totem poles.

Misty Fiords National Monument (distance: 64 kilometres / 40 miles), governed by the US Forest Service, consists of 9,246 km2 / 2,294,343 acres of often near vertical glacial valleys, some of which rise to 600 to 900 metres / 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level and descend to 300 metres / 1000 feet below it; boat and floatplane tours [NB: Please check the FAA status of these floatplane tours] are organized from Ketchikan.

How to get there

Alaska Airlines and Delta Connection fly to Ketchikan International Airport, (distance — travel via ferry — from Downtown Ketchikan: 2 kilometres / 1.43 miles) from Seattle/Tacoma, WA, with wide North American connections; Princess Cruises and other cruise companies offer services to Ketichikan, often on a seasonal basis; some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States
Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States | Source

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