Top 10 Reasons to Visit Ketchikan's Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary

View totem pole carving at the Rainforest Sanctuary in Ketchikan, Alaska.
View totem pole carving at the Rainforest Sanctuary in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Breathtaking Ketchikan, Alaska, is known for its picturesque scenery and rich cultural heritage. But one of the most exciting things about a visit to Ketchikan is its Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. Only an eight-mile drive from the city, the sanctuary offers an engaging tour of the rich flora and fauna of the temperate rain forest. Here are 10 things you can do when you take a walk through the rain forest on your next cruise to Alaska:

1. Walk Through the Temperate Rain Forest With a Naturalist.

The 40-acre reserve boasts tall stands of spruce, hemlock, and cedar trees, and a quiet forest floor that's rich with mosses, wildflowers, and a wide variety of berry species.

2. Feed Reindeer by Hand.

Feed lettuce to a herd of local Alaskan reindeer by hand. These domesticated animals come from Nenana, an area just south of Fairbanks, and are the only reindeer in Ketchikan.

3. See a Cornucopia of Alaskan Wildlife.

Guided tours often include sightings of bald eagles, owls, bears, banana slugs, mink, and marten. On your tour, you'll get an up-close look at the habitat for these incredible species that call the temperate rain forest home.

4. Gain Firsthand Knowledge of Alaska's Lush Fauna.

Lichens, devil's club, chocolate lilies, and ferns blanket the forest floor. The temperate rain forest is a quiet ecosystem that you'll learn amazing things about from the naturalists who guide the hike.

5. Watch a Native Alaskan Carve a Totem.

Watch as one of Alaska's leading native carvers transforms Alaskan red cedar wood into a classic totem pole that features the wildlife and legends of the area surrounding Ketchikan.

6. Take in the Sanctuary's Bird Rehab Project.

Get up-close and personal with bald eagles and great horned owls at the sanctuary's Raptor Center. Treated for injuries that prevent them from being released into the wild, these birds of prey make for a once-in-a-lifetime sight. Keep your camera ready so you can capture some of these amazing creatures in close-up photographs.

7. View King Salmon Fighting Their Way up the Local Creeks to Spawn.

Eagle Creek, one of Alaska's richest salmon spawning streams, is also home to a fish hatchery located across the creek from the sanctuary boardwalk.

8. Get Free Hot Chocolate and Cookies at the Local Gift Shop.

Also known as the General Store, the sanctuary's gift shop has great books and gifts, such as totemic poles that you can take home to commemorate your experience. Plus enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, coffee and tea.

9. Shore Excursions Are Set at an Easy Walking Pace That's Great for All Ages.

Ketchikan shore excursions give you ample time to take photos and listen to your guide describe the unique characteristics of the temperate rain forest.

10. Visit a Historic Alaskan Sawmill.

The Herring Bay Lumber Company sawmill was established in 1956 by Ben Fleenor, who ran the mill until 2002. Red and yellow cedar planks produced at the mill were processed to be crafted into totemic wall hangings by master carvers. The guided tours include a visit to this historic sawmill.

Booking an Alaska cruise is the perfect way to explore the rich ecosystem of Ketchikan. Pre-reserve your shore excursion to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary today!