Totem Bight State Park is one of the main attractions in Ketchikan, Alaska. A sizable park that’s found in the midst of beautiful scenery, it’s effectively the sister sight to the Saxman Native Village, which is also located in Ketchikan. The difference between the two is that whereas Saxman is a living and working Native American village that showcases various aspects of indigenous Alaskan culture, Totem Bight State Park is more focused on the exhibition of totem poles. This is a park that makes a great day out for all the family, especially those who have a passing interest (or more) in Native American ways.
Getting to Totem Bight tends to mean finding your way on your accord, as few tours operate to this part of Ketchikan. That shouldn’t put you off, however; the park is situated off a main highway not far north of Ketchikan proper, so reaching it by car is an easy enough task. Furthermore, the fact that many tours overlook Totem Bight means it remains a charmingly quiet tourist attraction. In a way you could say a visit here is as much about enjoying the natural surroundings of the park as it is gaping at the impressive totems themselves.
The totems at Totem Bight State Park are magnificent things. Measuring up to 30 feet tall, they are huge pillars of wood that showcase traditional Native American carvings. One of the good things about the park is its various signs and its printed book, as these impart in-depth knowledge on the poles, explaining how they were made and what their carvings symbolize. Most of the carvings, it turns out, relate to the nature that you can see everywhere here, with eagles, ravens, beavers, and even killer whales featured prominently. If you don’t fancy referring to a book all the time while exploring the Totem Bight State Park, official guides are at hand to show you around while imparting information.
Aside from the totem poles, you’ll also find a fascinating Clan House at the park. A replica of a nineteenth-century community living quarters, the clan house shows how up to 50 people could have lived together under one roof in times gone past. It’s an altogether splendid creation: a wooden construct that’s been carved to perfection, with the outside featuring a number of impressive poles and intricate illustrations.
The Clan House and the totem poles are spread out in the Totem Bight State Park, so gentle nature walks are naturally a part of any trip here. The result is a truly relaxing and memorable time during which you can explore the flora and fauna native to Alaska and find out about a community of people who have lived here since what seems like time immemorial.
Most visitors to Ketchikan arrive on a cruise liner, with companies such as Holland America providing exciting trips up the Alaskan coast and stopping off here. While on shore leave at Ketchikan, then, apart from visiting the Totem Bight State Park, a popular thing to do is fishing. Ketchikan is commonly referred to as the Salmon Capital of the World. Consequently, many visitors use time out here to charter a boat and see if they can catch some colossal Alaskan fish.