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

Bears, Eagles, & Salmon!

What a great place to see black bears! We watched a salmon grab a salmon from the river! Then we saw a few others. There is a really nice boardwalk area for you to view from. The sanctuary has guides throughout the park. They radio each other to give updates on bear sightings so our tour guide to take us to that area. Our tour guides were Morgan and Joe. They are both FANTASTIC guides.
On top of seeing the bears, there are Bald Eagles everywhere! Just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Lastly, there are so many salmon in the river.
This was a great tour - I highly recommend.

Kena C - Canada

Fun trip for the family

I flew to Ketchikan with a group of 9, 5 adults and 4 kids. We were visiting relatives and they set this up at Adventure Karts. I was pretty excited because the weather was predicted as sunny and warm.

When we got to the site we hung out for a bit and then were given an orientation speech by 1 of the 2 guides. Afterwards we suited up in rain gear bibs (even though it wasn't raining I'd recommend wearing) and helmets. Next the second guide gave instructions on how to operate the karts. I was pumped to get started. Make sure if you plan to drive you bring your drivers license.

First off the karts don't go super fast but I had expected that. you have one lead guide and the second guide trails the group. I was in a 2-seater and my brother had a 4-seater, with the kids. I had also brought along a GoPro and was able to mount it on the front of the kart, just make sure you bring the right mount.

The ride up was pretty cool but there were times when we had to go slow. Since it was a sunny day, it was dry and a bit dusty. If it is rainy or if it recently rained iy may not get as dusty. These are old dirt logging roads so it has multiple potholes and puddles. Additionally you won't have scenic views the entire time. I think the fun part was ripping through those old roads and really getting an off road feel.

The first stop we came to this beautiful spot that had a stunning vista. The guide stopped and we got out to take pics and hear them talk about the area. We took tons of pictures. Eventually we headed off to the next stop and walked about 2 minutes to view some waterfalls. Again we were able to take pictures and chat with the rest of the group. They did have a snack of granola bars and water, so don't expect having hotdogs and sodas.

The guide then brought us back down to the main area. It was a fun trip and the kids absolutely had a blast. They've never ridden a 4 wheeler or ATV before so this was a new experience for them.

Overall the guides were great and the 2 stopping points had really nice views. Since the karts get stretched out just remember to use the suggested hand signals to communicate with each other when driving. I wanted to do something different, get some great pics with great views, see something that is unique to Alaska/Pacific NW(logging roads) & make sure the kids come away feeling like they did something awesome and cool. Adventure Karts exceeded the expectations I had.

Roland P. - New York

Herring Cove Bear Adventure

I was on the Holland American cruise ship Niew Amsterdam and a week ago chose to do the Herring Cove excursion. This did not disappoint in fact we saw 3 bears and another curled up asleep in a hollowed tree trunk. The walk through the rainforest was gentle and not too long and we had 2 young men guiding us and answering all questions. We were given instructions on how to behave during the walk and when to be silent. Highly recommend this tour.

Carol - Australia