Tongass National Forest
Glacier Bay National Park divides the Yakutat ranger district off from the rest of the forest. The Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park and Preserve begins at the northern edge of the Tongass. Canada's Kluane National Park, Tatshanshini-Alsek Wilderness Provincial Park and Atlin Provincial Park border the Tongass.
Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the site of the largest congregation of bald eagles in North America. Over 3,000 eagles flock to this five-mile stretch of the Chilkat River from October to January to feed upon salmon, and can be viewed from the Haines Highway. For information, contact Alaska State Parks, (907) 766-2292.
Totem poles and Native Culture can be discovered in Ketchikan at three different locations. These include the Totem Heritage Center (907) 225-5900, Saxman Native Village (907) 225-5163, and Totem Bight State Park (907) 247-8574.
Sitka National Historical Park is Alaska's oldest federally designated park. It was established in 1910 to commemorate the Battle of Sitka, which took place in 1804. Kiksadi Fort and the Russian Bishop's House are visitable structures that commemorate different phases of European history in Alaska. A classic combination of Northwest Coast totem poles and temperate rain forest are visible on the scenic coastal trail within Sitka National Historical Park. For information contact the National Park Service, Sitka National Historical Park, 106 Metlakatla St., Sitka, AK 99835, (907) 747-6281.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park explores the Yukon Gold rush. The discovery of gold in Canada's Yukon brought thousands of gold hungry stampeders to Skagwayand Dyea, Alaska. The White Pass Trail from Skagway and the Chilkoot Trail from Dyea were the most popular overland routes to the gold fields. Today the park has a visitor center in Skagway, and administers the Chilkoot Trail and White Pass Trail units. For information contact the National Park Service Visitor Center, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, P.O. Box 517, Skagway, AK 99840, (907) 983-2921.
The forest includes 19 wildernesses. They are: Chuck River, Coronation Island, Endicott River, Karta River, Kootznoowoo (Admiralty Island National Monument), Kuiu, Maurelle Islands, Misty Fiords National Monument, Petersburg Creek-Duncan Salt Chuck, Pleasent/Lemesurier/Inian Island, Russell Fiord, South Baranof, South Etolin Island, South Prince of Wales, Stikine-LeConte, Tebenkof Bay, Tracy Arm-Fords Terror, Warren Island, and West Chichagof-Yakobi.
When exploring this lush rainforest, one can clearly recognize its composition as being primarily Sitka spruce and western hemlock. The Sitka spruce is Alaska's state tree and can be recognized by its stately crown and sharp needles. The western hemlock can be best recognized by its droopy or sagging crown and flattened needles.
The Alaska-Canada boundary on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west provide the 100 mile-wide strip of coastal forest known as the Tongass. These boundaries encompass the entire Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska. The nearest major city is Prince Rupert, in British Columbia, a six-hour ferry ride away.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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