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

Wonderful experience

We took our young children on this excursion and had a wonderful time. Our guide Sarah taught us all about the plants and trees, including the interesting root systems, and the salmon hatching process. She even licked a banana slug for us- and it really brought us good luck.

In a 5 minute period we saw a bear, a martin, a bald eagle in flight, and a kingfisher. It was a wonderful experience.

Leigh-Ann H. - Georgia

There Be Bears Nearby

Arriving in Ketchikan on an NCL cruise, I booked this trip separately. It exceeded expectations, even in the rain. Read on for details.

A short drive from the embarkation point, we met our guides (Lauren and Rena, who were perfect in their roles) who escorted us to the walking path after a short orientation. It was cool and raining which were apparently the ideal conditions for bears to be out fishing; and they were. We saw our first bear within 2 minutes, followed by what was probably a mom-bear and cub and a mom-bear and two cubs. They fished, prowled the stream swatted at fish, climbed trees and did their bear thing.

We walked the path for about 90 minutes, in the rain, engrossed by unbelievably active and close bears nearby.

Special shout-out to the guides, Lauren and Rena; upbeat, informative and worked as a team to spot the bears.

doctorbobster - Gainesville, FL


Great place to visit - walk way gives great views of bears with their young fishing and climbing trees. Penny & Riley were great at showing us around and spotting the wildlife.

Rupinder B