Encompassing 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States. Originally the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve, a project of Theodore Roosevelt started in 1902, the park was developed and renamed in 1908 to pay homage to the Tongass Clan of the Tlingit Indians. Visitors to Tongass National Forest have an enormous array of activities and experiences to choose from: bird-watching, trekking, fishing (there are five species of salmon here, among other fish), camping, visiting glaciers, lake canoeing, off-roading and just relishing pure fresh air and pristine natural beauty. In fact, there are 17,000 miles (27,359 kilometers) of lakes, creeks and rivers to enjoy within the forest. Wildlife is also prevalent, with chances to view otters, brown and black bears, wolves, eagles and Sitka black-tailed deer.
Those who truly want to experience the best of the Tongass National Forest can kayak on Amalga Harbor to see the famous Mendenhall, Eagle and Herbert glaciers while also keeping an eye out for whales, birds, seals, porpoises and sea lions. There are also opportunities for hiking and lake canoeing in the forest, which can be done in a Native American-style canoe. Before visiting the Tongass National Forest, you may want to visit the Tongass Historical Museum in Ketchikan to learn about the area’s geography and Native Alaskan heritage.