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Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

116 Wood Road, Ketchican, Alaska

Delve into wildlife, scenery, and history at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary—a one-stop-shop for Alaska’s natural wonders. Set in the temperate rainforest, the sanctuary is home to lush forests, a salmon spawning stream, historic sawmill, and a totem pole park. Raised boardwalks offer the chance to view black bears, eagles, and more.

The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary is one of the region’s best locations for spotting native Alaskan animals, both in the wild and in the sanctuaries facilities. Visitors can explore the sanctuary on guided tours that stroll an interpretive forest trail on the way to a salmon spawning stream where it is common to spot bears, eagles, seals, and other wildlife. Tours also include the chance to visit the historic Herring Bay Lumber Company Sawmill and the Tsimshian totem pole park. Plus, you can catch a presentation from an Alaska Raptor Center handler.

  • Travelers who want to see bears in the wild should not miss this wildlife viewing opportunity.
  • The sanctuary’s trails—a combination of gravel and wooden boardwalks—are relatively flat and accessible with wheelchairs and strollers.
  • Food is not allowed on the trail for bear safety reasons.
  • The weather is erratic and most exhibits are outdoors, so rain gear and water-resistant shoes are recommended.

The sanctuary is located along the South Tongass Highway in the small fishing village of Herring Cove. About a 15-minute drive from Ketchikan, the sanctuary is most easily reached on guided tours that includes hotel or port pickup and drop-off.

The best time to visit the wildlife sanctuary is from mid-June through early September. Spawning season—starting in late July—is the best time to spot action from the decks and walkways overlooking Herring Creek.

For travelers headed to Ketchikan in the summertime, there are several locations where you can hope to spot bears in the wild. If you don’t get enough at the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, head to the Anan Wildlife Observatory—one of the few places in the world where you can see brown bears and black bears feeding from the same stream. Also consider a visit to the observation areas at Margaret Bay and Neets Bay.


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