Just 22 miles to the east of Ketchikan, the 2.2-million-acre Misty Fjords National Monument epitomizes everything people imagine when they think of Alaska: snowcapped peaks, steep fjords, glaciers, and plunging waterfalls, all shaped by the massive ice sheets that covered this area as recently as 17,000 years ago. Visiting Misty Fjords is possible by floatplane or on a cruise tour through Behm Canal; aside from the stunning scenery and sheer rocks walls rising thousands of feet, keep your eyes open for wildlife like orcas, porpoises, mountain goats, and bears.

water and mountain landscape in Misty Fjords National Monument

The spectacular Misty Fjords National Monument. Photo © dani3315/iStock.

You have an enormous array of flightseeing providers to choose from, many of which also offer flights to other regional attractions that are too far away to reach by boat from Ketchikan, like the Anan Creek Wildlife Observatory. The following are some of the best, known for their attention to safety and careful handling of nervous flyers. Each of the providers listed also offers fly-in fishing trips and transport to and from public-use cabins in the area. Prices listed are for two-hour excursions, although many offer shorter and longer trips as well; discounts are often given for children under 12 and for end-of-season travel in September.

  • Alaska Seaplane Tours (866/858-2327, from $229, also offers bear viewing on Prince of Wales Island)
  • Family Air Tours (907/247-1305, from $239)
  • Island Wings (888/854-2444, from $239, also offers trips to Anan Creek and Traitor Cove bear observatories as well as hiking tours)
  • Misty Fjords Air (877/228-4656 or 907/225-5155, from $249)
  • Mountain Air Service (907/821-2500)
  • SeaWind Aviation (877/225-1203 or 907/225-1206, from $229, also offers Traitors Cove and Prince of Wales Island bear viewing)
  • Taquan Air (4085 Tongass Ave., 800/770-8800 or 907/225-8800, from $269, also offers trips to Anan Creek)

Note: Misty Fjords often lives up to its name with wind, rain, and limited visibility, and there have been fatalities attributed to flightseeing trips that went out in poor flying conditions. Play it safe and don’t push a pilot to fly in borderline weather, no matter how correctly disappointed you might be to miss out. This is where having a flex day or two planned into your trip comes in really handy; it’s worth it!


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Alaska.