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

Ziplines!!

The highlight of my trip to Ketchikan at the end of the season. Chris and Jack were excellent guides, freely sharing everything from information about the area to safety tips. I felt the safe the whole time and the experience was amazing. Scenery was great, and seeing bears from a safe height did add fear factor. I didn't expect the wildlife tour as well as the exhilaration of the zipline! Very worthwhile.

Lily Y

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

A Fantastic Day

We actually hiked through the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary in the rain! We had been told that it rains almost every day in Ketchikan so we were prepared with rain gear and plastic bags for our cameras. We were given plastic rain coats at the entrance but we were told we had to leave umbrellas because they are dangerous to carry through the forest. We were met by a fantastic guide/naturalist who named and described the trees, bushes, plants, birds and animals that we saw along the trail. Since we were a small group, we reaped the benefit of being able to ask questions at will. We saw bears in the distance and the remains of salmon who had come back to their spawning ground to die. We also stopped for a long time at Eagle Creek, a protected estuary, where we saw a salmon hatchery and where we learned about the 5 different species of salmon. The rain never dampened our hike because the guide/naturalist had a wonderful sense of humor, making the hike fun as well as educational. At the end of the hike we arrived at the eagle rescue sanctuary where we saw various eagles that had been saved by the sanctuary. The naturalist there made us understand how important the work that they do is to the preservation of all species of eagles. After the eagle sanctuary, we were led into the visitor center and gift shop where we were treated to hot chocolate and cookies. Most of us left purchasing wonderful, high-quality souvenirs because all sales went to benefit the Rainforest Sanctuary and the important work they do. It was a moving and wonderful day that I shall not forget.

Marcia71 - Israel