Picture this: 17 million acres of huge trees, temperate rainforest, jolting fjords, booming waterfalls, steep mountain peaks, fascinating amounts of wildlife, glistening glaciers and some of the rarest types of flora and fauna in the world. Captivated much? We understand, we are too. The
Tongass National Forest in the southeast region of Alaska is the largest national forest in the entire United States and lets just say, it’s unlike anywhere else in the world. This place encompasses exactly what your backcountry dreams are made of and your sightseeing fantasies are filled with. If you do one thing while you’re in Alaska, put this at the very tippy-top of your bucket list.
Head to islands of the Alexander Archipelago in southeast Alaska and you'll find yourself in a land of lush rainforest filled with many trees that are over 800 years old. As if that's not fascinating enough, read on to learn more about all of the incredible outdoor opportunities that the Tongass National Forest has in store for locals and visitors alike.
With over 1 million visitors to the Tongass National Forest each year, hiking has quickly become one of the very most popular activities in all of this extensive land.
Visitors to the Tongass National Forest enjoy hiking on well groomed paths, boardwalks and even bushwhacking up into the mountains.
Speaking of mountains, getting "lost in paradise" has never felt as amazing and liberating as it does when you're in the Tongass National Forest. Take me away, sweet land... take me away!
The Tongass National Forest is the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the United States. The forest itself is filled with joy and wonder. It is made up primarily of western red cedar, sitka spruce and western hemlock trees. The different smells of the trees are truly something that you will wish you could bottle up and bring home with you.
Have you ever stayed in a public use cabin? Well, The Tongass National Forest has around 150 rustic cabins that are super inexpensive and readily accessible for adventurers to take advantage of. All are accessible by either trail, boat or floatplane. For more information you can always visit the online website, stop by the Forest Service office in Ketchikan or the local ranger stations in Craig, Hoonah, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Thorne Bay, Wrangell, and Yakutat.
If you aren't much into the whole cabin rental thing, you'll be just fine if you decide to pitch a tent as there are ample places within the 17-million-acre forest to do so. Pitch it on some soft tundra and leave the sleeping pad at home. Then kick back, have a campfire and enjoy the spectacular views and sounds of silence that surround you.
When you're out enjoying the TNF, make sure you are always prepared for wildlife encounters. The forest is filled with black bears, brown bears, wolves, bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer, moose, humpback whales, orcas, sea otters and stellar sea lions.
One of the most exciting ways to enjoy the TNF is by grabbing the kiddos and the pups and heading out for a day of berry picking. Enjoy a yummy selection of lingonberries, strawberries, salmonberries, huckleberries, high-bush cranberries, gooseberries or blueberries. But remember, where there are berries there are likely to be bears. So always be prepared for a wildlife encounter.
If you want to cruise around to different areas and find your own little slice of paradise, kayaking is a very popular means of transportation to do so. Enjoy epic mountain views and marine wildlife along the way. The peace and serenity that you will experience on the water is second to none.
Waterfalls are oh-so prevalent in the Tongass National Forest. Enjoy many opportunities to hear the large, booming rush as the water jolts down at vast speeds from the melting snow and glacial runoff.
Within the Tongass National Forest there is so much more than just epic forest land and hiking trails. The forest is actually home to 128 glaciers. The Mendenhall Glacier is arguably one of the most-visited as it is located in the state's capital city of Juneau which is also a major cruise ship port in the summertime. The visitor center to the glacier offers incredible viewing opportunities and very nice, well-maintained walking facilities.
Want to take it a step further and get up close and personal with a glacier? The Mendenhall Ice Caves are incredible when experienced on an up-close-and-personal level. Doing this always adds a level of danger so it is imperative to always use caution. The trek in is a little long but it is SO worth it!
Within the Tongass National Forest there are 19 designated wilderness areas which cover 5,750,000 acres of land. These areas are the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness, Kootznoowoo Wilderness, Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, Stikine-LeConte Wilderness, Russell Fjord Wilderness, South Baranof Wilderness, West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness, Endicott River Wilderness, South Prince of Wales Wilderness, South Etolin Wilderness, Chuck River Wilderness, Tebenkof Bay Wilderness, Kuiu Wilderness, Petersburg Creek-Duncan Salt Chuck Wilderness, Karta River Wilderness, Pleasant/Lemesurier/Inian Islands Wilderness, Coronation Island Wilderness, Warren Island Wilderness and the Maurille Islands Wilderness.
Southeast Alaska is known for offering world-class fishing. Add in the stunning beauty of the Tongass National Forest with a little island flavor and you have a recipe for success every single time!
The moral of the story is this; if you're in the Tongass National Forest, you will feel yourself come alive. The beauty is unmatched and the opportunity for adventure is simply limitless. Have a night cap while walking on a totally private and secluded beach with the views of a colorful sunset in the distance. But be aware that you very well might have to pinch yourself to bring yourself back to reality because, NO - you're not dreaming! This place actually does exist and it's magical.
If you love exploring the great outdoors in the last frontier, you’ll love this list of 1
5 incredible hikes under 5 miles that everyone in Alaska should take. And if you’re loyal to the southeast region of the state, don’t worry – the list has you covered!