Rainforest Sanctuary, Totem Park & Eagles

Take a naturalist-guided walk through a Ketchikan rainforest sanctuary and wildlife preserve.

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary is a 40-acre private preserve of temperate rainforest bordering the Tongass National Forest. Take a guided nature walk exploring the wildlife and ecology of the preserve. Visit a historic sawmill, explore a totem park, and view a featured raptor at the Alaska Raptor Center Ketchikan exhibit.

Here’s how your rainforest exploration will surprise and delight you. 

You’ll start out with a scenic eight-mile coastal drive to rustic Herring Cove and the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a temperate rainforest, nestled into the Tongass National Forest. When you arrive, a naturalist guide will be on hand to take you on a 0.75 mile guided rainforest exploration along an improved trail amongst stands of hemlock, spruce and cedar trees. The forest floor is covered with mosses, wild flowers and a variety of berries. Your guide will lead you to a protected open estuary where you follow Herring Creek along an elevated wooden boardwalk overlooking grassy wetlands.

During the seasonal spawning season, bears and seals feed on salmon in Herring Creek. Bald eagles and other birds wait for scraps in the estuary. Sitka black tail deer, mink and marten also frequent the area. Weather, tides, and seasonal ecosystem changes result in varying levels and type of wildlife activity.

Everything here is alive with color and cultural history.

After your trail walk your opportunity to learn about the natural history, wildlife and cultural traditions in the region continues. You’ll be guided through the historic Herring Bay Lumber Company sawmill, seeing saws and machinery that powered this mill. Keep your camera ready as you see a bald eagle at the Alaska Raptor Center exhibit. Explore the first Tsimshian totem pole park in the country with its impressive 40-foot totem and 13 poles carved by the same artist.  Before your return to town visit the General Store and pick up a souvenir of your uniquely Alaskan experience.

Please Note: This tour operates in all weather conditions.

Need to Know

2.75 hours

Comfortable walking shoes, layered clothing and waterproof jacket are recommended

Shopping opportunities are available at the General Store

Difficulty Level: Easy

This experience includes walking for short distances over relatively level terrain, possibly with a few steps or slight inclines. Participants should be able to move into and out of buses or vans.

Photo Gallery

Guest Reviews

Best Day Ever! Ask for Sarah!

We arranged for 100 teachers from our Science at Sea cruise to Alaska to visit the sanctuary. Perfect mixture of great science content and a fun way to experience this amazing place. Our educators were beyond impressed with all of the guides and their ACCURATE knowledge of the plants, trees and wildlife. Great to see a place that hasn't been completely commercialized. Don't miss the raptor center (phase 1 of construction was just finished). We were surprised to see "Sitka" the bald eagle at this center. We're used to seeing her at the raptor center in Sitka. Every part of the experience was first class. Highly recommended - 10 out of 10!

Steve S. - Colorado

Bear and wildlife tour

Sarah and Billy rock! Two Bear were out the entire time. The bald eagle sighting was amazing but the rescue eagle and owl made my day! Amazing tour! Worth every cent.


Nice relaxing educational shorter excursion

Wife, 12-year old and 5-year old did the walk with Grace as our guide. It was a great tour to take as a family. You walk through in groups of four so our family basically had a private tour. Grace was very knowledgeable and every minute and every step was full of information about the plants, animals, history and ecosystem around us.

Our 12 year old loved the info about the plants and animals and our 5 year old just loved being on a winding wooded path "exploring". Grace was very patient with our kids and their questions, especially the 5 year old and his random, off-the-wall comments interrupting her every few minutes.

We saw several types of birds including bald eagles, over a dozen types of trees, plants, mosses, berries, flowers, and learned about the 5 types of salmon in the hatchery. The area was home to a selective logging operation until 2002 and the tour included a walk through the old mill where Wayne is now carving his 41st or 42nd totem pole. So lots of interesting things to look at. Oh, and there is a raptor recovery program so we also saw a bald eagle, peregrine falcon and a red-tailed hawk up close. But if you are looking for bears, wolves, moose or caribou this is not the place. We did get to see a black bear ransacking a trash can down the street but that was the closest we came to a bear here. We were here in mid-late June so the bear and other predator activity would probably pick up as other fish start running later in the summer.

There was zip lining here but we did not do it. We would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a few hour trip with some good info with good people. If you want spectacle go watch the guys bust logs in town.

Brian D. - California