Blue glacial lakes, tall waterfalls, and snowcapped peaks surround visitors to “the Mistys.”
The spectacular Misty Fjords National Monument, lying just 22 miles east of Ketchikan, is a natural mosaic of sea cliffs, steep fjords, and rock walls jutting 3,000 feet straight out of the ocean. Taking its name from the almost constant precipitation characteristic of the area, the monument is covered with thick rainforest that grows on nearly vertical slopes from sea level to mountaintops. Dramatic waterfalls plunge into the saltwater through narrow clefts or course over great rounded granite shoulders, fed by lakes, streams, and more than 150 inches of annual rainfall.
Things to Do
The most popular ways to visit Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forest are by air and by sea. Flightseeing trips depart from Ketchikan to give passengers aerial views of the stunning landscape. Some flightseeing trips include a lake landing so passengers can get up-close views on a short hike through the rainforest. Day cruises from Ketchikan explore Misty Fjords’ stunning waterfalls, sheer cliffs, and wildlife from the comfort of a heated vessel.
For even more of an adventure, kayaking the protected coves and inlets is a popular way to experience the fjords. It's a long paddle to Misty Fjords from Ketchikan so many visitors arrange to be dropped off and picked up by water taxi, thus opening up the monument to even beginner kayakers. Guided single-day and multi-day kayaking trips are available through tour operators in Ketchikan.
Wildlife in Misty Fjords is abundant and varied and includes mountain goats, brown bears, black bears, moose, martens, wolves, wolverines, river otters, sea lions, harbor seals, orcas, and Dall porpoises. Bird species include hummingbirds, trumpeter swans, herons, bald eagles, puffins, back-legged kittiwakes, and common murres. All five Pacific salmon species are present.
Extending 2.3 million acres across Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords is the largest wilderness area in Alaska's national forests and the second largest in the nation. The major waterway cutting through the monument, Behm Canal, is more than 100 miles long and extraordinary among natural canals for its length and depth. The long canal separates Revillagigedo Island from the mainland and provides passage to Walker Cove, Rudyerd Bay, and Punchbowl Cove - the preserve's most picturesque areas. The monument is known for its steep cliffs jutting 3,000 feet from the ocean, deep fjords, coastal rainforest, glacier-carved valleys, and unique geological features like old lava flows and mineral springs.
Facilities and Camping
Scattered through the monument are 13 public use cabins that can be reserved in advance, plus four shelters that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The cabins and shelters are accessible by plane, boat, or hiking. There are two Forest Service campgrounds that are accessible by road from Ketchikan. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan provides information on Misty Fjords National Monument and the Tongass National Forest.
Kayaks can be rented in Ketchikan and drop-off and pick-up service within the monument can be arranged along with guided trips. Ketchikan is also the departure point of most cruises and flightseeing tours.
Ketchikan serves as the gateway to Misty Fjords and can be reached by daily scheduled jet service from Seattle, Anchorage, Juneau, and many Inside Passage communities. Alaska Marine Highway ferries also connect Ketchikan to Bellingham, WA and other Inside Passage communities. The city is a popular stop for cruise ships and some include a visit to the deep waters of Behm Canal and Rudyerd Bay in their itineraries. There is no road access to Ketchikan.
Learn more about the Tongass National Forest.
For more information, visit the Misty Fjords National Monument website.
Scattered through the monument are 13 Forest Service cabins (877-444-6777, 515-885-3639) that can be reserved in advance. Other facilities include the Big Goat Lake Cabin, which is free and available on a first-come, first-served basis and four Adirondack shelters that are also free.
Kayaks can be rented in Ketchikan and drop-off and pick-up service within the monument can be arranged along with guided trips. Ketchikan is also where most boat cruises and flightseeing tours are based while some cruise ships include the deep waters of Behm Canal and Rudyerd Bay in their itineraries.
There is no entrance fees for Misty Fjords National Monument but there is a nightly fee for renting the Forest Service cabins.
Ketchikan serves as the gateway to Misty Fjords and can be reached by daily scheduled jet service from Seattle, Anchorage, Juneau and many Inside Passage communities. Alaska Marine Highway ferries also connect Ketchikan to Bellingham, WA, Prince Rupert, B.C., and major Southeast communities and the city is a popular stop for cruise ships. There is no mainland road access to Ketchikan.
For more information on Misty Fjords contact the Ketchikan-Misty Fjords Ranger district (907-225-2148) in Ketchikan or the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center (907-228-6220). Contact the Ketchikan community page for a list of tour companies offering flightseeing, boat cruises and guided trips to Misty Fiords.