Exploring the Tongass

June 24, 2014 No Comments

While there are plenty of places to explore in downtown, the true wonder of Ketchikan is found beyond the town limits. The list of ways to explore the surrounding unspoiled wilderness is nearly as expansive as said wilderness is. Ketchikan provides easy access to the spectacular Misty Fjords National Monument, a 3,570-square-mile wilderness sanctuary within the Tongass that’s replete with astounding sea cliffs, lofty fjords, and 3,000-foot-high rock walls jutting out of the water. Its name is a nod to the misty fog shrouding the mountains that rise from a broken shoreline of embayments, where ancient Native pictographs etched into the cliff walls are still visible. There are two ways to visit the natural monument—by air and by sea. Look for combination tours, which offer the best of both worlds.

Every venture into the Tongass comes with possible sightings of local wildlife, including bald eagles, black bears, seals, deer, and a variety of birds—more than 250 avian species have been identified in the region. Ample walking and hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, lead through the old-growth forest, where seasoned tour guides impart knowledge of the botanic species and wildlife native to the area. Keep an eye out for sundew, a carnivorous plant that uses tentacles with an adhesive dew to ensnare small insects.

The ecotour of the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary combines a nature hike and bald-eagle and reindeer encounters with a carving demonstration and a tour of a historic sawmill. Additional action-packed activity options include an adventure-kart expedition along mountain trails, a backcountry Jeep and canoe safari, zip-line rainforest adventures, wilderness cruises, and other exhilarating excursions.

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In the heated, covered arena, watch lumberjacks bring Alaska’s colorful timber history to life.

Take a private flight to Misty Fjords National Monument and savor a crab feast at the rustic George Inlet Lodge.

Mountain Point offers excellent snorkeling conditions in the calm waters of the Inside Passage.

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