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

Rainforest Sanctuary

My husband and I visited this Sanctuary whilst in Ketchikan. Our experiences there were absolutely amazing. Our guides Rylee and Savannah were fantastic. As our group was very quiet whilst walking on the board walks we were privileged to see a bear wander under one of the walkways into the creek and start playing with and catching salmon. She left one at the shoreline and then a mother bear and cub walked underneath and grabbed the left salmon. Being able to watch the bears in their natural environment was truly amazing.

Ann-Marie A

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.

Kelley

Neets Bay Bear Watch & Flightseeing – Incredible experience!

The Neets Bay Bear Watch & Flightseeing tour was one of the highlights of our cruise on the Star Princess. The entire experience was well-organized and well-executed.

My wife and I started the tour by meeting a representative from Alaska Shore Tours (Taqan Air Tours) on the pier just a few steps from our cruise ship. She was holding a sign with the excursion code clearly visible so we knew without a doubt that we were in the right place.

We were directed to a waiting bus, which was a very short walk from where we met the first representative. Once everyone attending the tour was loaded, we were driven to the marina where the planes were docked.

They presented a safety video and then directed us down a ramp onto the dock where the plane was waiting. Our pilot helped us onto the plane, checked to make sure everyone was properly buckled in and showed us how to use the headsets. He started the plane, taxied into open water, and then we took off.

This was our first time flying in a float plane. Takeoff and landing were quite smooth compared to typical wheeled planes. Seeing such a beautiful area from a relatively low altitude (compared to commercial jets) was amazing! The area around Ketchikan is so beautiful.

After a 20 minute flight, we arrived at Neets Bay. Our guide met us on the dock and gave us a short safety talk about how to behave around bears - what to do and what not to do. Then he led us up a ramp to a woodsy area. We were immediately able to see a marshy area with at least 2 dozen eagles.

The guide took us down a short trail and pointed out many signs of bear activity - scat (feces), claw markings on trees, and several plants that the bears had eaten. At the end of the trail (about 1/4 mile) was an open area with the fish hatchery.

Just as our group arrived at the fish hatchery, we heard muted "oos" and "ahhs" from another two groups that had arrived before us - bears! There were 2 bears within 50 yards, one was climbing into a spillway next to a waterfall and the other was a bit further downstream. We quickly grabbed our cameras and started making photos and videos. Just a few minutes later, we saw another adult bear and two cubs a bit further down. The bears picked several salmon out of the spillway and stream. (I'm sure people who see this every day may laugh at my amazement, but for someone who has never seen a bear outside of a zoo this was quite breathtaking!)

After quite a while of watching the bears and some nearby eagles, we (sadly) made our way back down the trail to the dock for our flight back the marina and bus ride back to the pier.

I'm sure you can tell from my description - we REALLY enjoyed our experience and would gladly do it again! Highly recommended!!

Mark J. - Kentucky