Tongass National Rain Forest
The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States at 17 million acres. The Tongass covers most of Southeast Alaska surrounding the famous Inside Passage and offers unique chances to view eagles, bears, spawning salmon, and the breath-taking vistas of “wild” Alaska. Most of its area is part of the temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, itself part of the larger Pacific temperate rain forest WWF ecoregion, and is remote enough to be home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna.
The Tongass National Forest is home to about 75,000 people who are dependent on the land for their livelihoods. Three Alaska Native nations live in Southeast Alaska: the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. Thirty-one communities are located within the forest; the largest is Juneau, the state capital, with a population of 31,000. The forest is named for the Tongass group of the Tlingit people, who inhabited the southernmost areas of Southeast Alaska, near what is now the city of Ketchikan.
The forest safeguards wildlife found nowhere else on the planet, like the Alexander Archipelago wolf. Under current management practices, this wolf could become the first wildlife species in the Tongass listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Tongass giant old-growth trees are also a warehouse of carbon, helping regulate the planet’s climate. Take a sled-dog ride on a glacier, hike boardwalk trails, fish in streams or the ocean, relax at a remote cabin or visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Anan Wildlife Observatory in Wrangell, Fish Creek Bear Viewing Area in Hyder, or Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area on Admiralty Island.