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Overview

Covering more than 17 million acres, Tongass National Forest is the nation's largest. Dense rain forests cover lower elevations, rising to alpine tundra and rocky peaks. Icefields feed a multitude of glaciers. The Tongass covers much of Southeast Alaska, from the southernmost end near Ketchikan, north to Yakutat along the Gulf of Alaska. Although logging has taken place in many areas, the vast majority of land within the Tongass remains undeveloped. Several of the largest islands in North America, including Prince of Wales, Chichagof, and Admiralty Islands, are within the forest. Visitors flock to Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy Arm near ...

Covering more than 17 million acres, Tongass National Forest is the nation's largest. Dense rain forests cover lower elevations, rising to alpine tundra and rocky peaks. Icefields feed a multitude of glaciers. The Tongass covers much of Southeast Alaska, from the southernmost end near Ketchikan, north to Yakutat along the Gulf of Alaska. Although logging has taken place in many areas, the vast majority of land within the Tongass remains undeveloped. Several of the largest islands in North America, including Prince of Wales, Chichagof, and Admiralty Islands, are within the forest. Visitors flock to Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy Arm near Juneau, Misty Fiords near Ketchikan, the Stikine River near Wrangell, and Pack Creek on Admiralty Island, but many less well-known areas are equally notable. More than 150 Forest Service cabins are scattered across the forest, with access primarily by floatplane or boat. They're inexpensive (around $40 nightly), and a wonderful way to enjoy the wilderness. Headquarters is in Ketchikan, home to an excellent Forest Service visitor center and discovery center.

Don Pitcher
About the Expert

Don Pitcher has written or photographed 10 travel guidebooks to Alaska, Wyoming, Yellowstone-Grand Teton, and the San Juan Islands for Avalon Travel Publishing, Random House, and Sasquatch Books.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: A 17 million acre forest in the southeastern Alaskan panhandle, it is the largest national forest in the United States
  • Research: Wikipedia | Ketchikan
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer