Is it really worth taking the Ketchikan town/Saxman village
tour, or is this something one can easily do on your own?
Most of the stops seem to be within the town itself. How
impressive is Saxman village (I've already seen the totem
collections in the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver
and the park in Sitka)?
The tour we really liked in Ketchikan was the horse drawn trolley tour. It lasted about an hour. We went all over town with a guide that gave us a great background on the area and the town. This gave us enough info to head out ourselves. It was only $20 per person and well woth it. They have their ticket booth right on the pier.
We enjoyed the Saxman tour and show. It gave us a broader view of Alaskan population and heritage, of which I would not have known. Once we returned to town, we did a self walking tour and went into Dolly's as well. It was great. We really tried to absorb as much as possible during our visit to Alaska.
You really need to go with a tour to Saxman to get anything out of it since the "stories" are a significant part of the tour. You would just be looking at the poles otherwise. Totem Bight has more of "self guiding" information. I suggest if you are interested in this consider Sourdough tours who goes to both, coupon in the Ketchikan visitor guide for 2 for $50. available at the dock visitor center or call 800-7703300, OR consider a self guided walking tour to Totem Heritage Museum and Hatchery combo ticket about $10, very different as the poles are retrieved from an abandoned village. Walk up Park and return via Deermont for a loop tour, then you will come to Creek St for some more touring. Many saxman tours available at the dock, so don't go with the ship tours.