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. Rain ponchos are available, if necessary.

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

So Many Bears!

What a pleasant surprise it was to see so many bears! We enjoyed our tour of the rainforest and loved seeing bears and bald eagles in the wild. The tour guides were excellent - helpful, informative, kind - and mindful of our safety. Was a great shore excursion even though we experienced quite a bit of rain - maybe bears like rain?

NatPieper - Texas

Absolutely Brilliant!

We were on a cruise and booked the 'Herring Cove Bear Adventure' before the trip.
It was a short bus ride to the Sanctuary where we were introduced to 2 guides, before setting off for a short walk onto the raised walkways.
It wasn't long at all before we saw our first Black bear and her cub, feeding on salmon from the river.
It was fantastic. The bears obviously knew we were there but were more interested in feeding.
A bald eagle then landed on a rock in the river close by and started feeding on salmon too.
A short walk through the sanctuary and we saw Otters playing in the sun before we were shown some rescued birds in captivity, (Owl, Bald Eagle & Hawk).
It was a fantastic experience to see these animals close up but still in the wild and we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

mwbarnes - United Kingdom

Tour guide ANTHONY was AWESOME!

We had a great day on this walking tour. Anthony was so informative, friendly and answered all questions asked. We even saw a bear fishing for salmon!

Tricia B. - Florida