Ketchikan is located on an island, approximately 540 nautical miles north of Vancouver. It was remarkable to think that we had already traversed so far at sea. As we docked, we could see much of the town from the ship as many of the residences and businesses are built into the sides of the cliffs that surround the town. The population of Ketchikan is only 14,500 and already appeared to be that perfect example of small town Alaska .
Arriving at the Ketchikan, Alaska Port
Factoid: Ketchikan is actually the location, or non-location as it is, of the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”. The residents petitioned to have a bridge built to connect their island to the neighboring Gravina Island in order to have better access to the local airport. This expense and project was curbed by the government.
We had planned an early morning excursion through our cruise line so after departing the ship, we found the bus we were supposed to get on next. We were about to visit an Alaskan Rainforest, an oxymoron we thought for sure.
Live the thrill of gliding through the top of a rich rain forest canopy along a series of eight dual cable ziplines with three aerial bridges suspended between tall spruce, hemlock and cedar trees, bordering the magnificent Tongass National Forest. This major rain forest reserve embraces one of Alaska’s richest salmon spawning streams and a pristine inter-tidal estuary. Abundant wildlife habitat here includes a high concentration of bald eagles, black bear and a variety of other species.
At Herring Cove an all-terrain custom 4×4 Unimog will transport you up a steep rain forest hillside to the canopy chalet. Professionally trained guides will outfit you with state-of-the-art safety equipment and provide a detailed orientation before you mount the first platform. Your rain forest canopy challenge features a flight over eight ziplines–6,000 feet of high-tension cables and ground-based nature trails. Your guides will progressively ease you into the forest canopy along cables ranging from a short 100 feet to the 850-foot, pulse-pounding “Ben’s Revenge.” Guests often see eagles and bears from the tree platforms. Discover Eagle Creek falls, and cross three hanging bridges offering breathtaking views of the virgin forest below. You will be up to 135 feet above the forest floor. Throughout this adventure you will be surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rain forest wildlife reserve.
Alaska Canopy Adventures Unimog
The final zipline emerges from the rain forest and transports you over lush grassy wetlands to a viewing tower, 55 feet above ground. Descend the stairs and gear down at the base camp. Upon completion of this amazing experience, enjoy a snack and hot beverage, view your photograph and shop in the General Store.
—Alaska Canopy Tours
Amy and Ryan ready to go on the zip lines
Neither of us had ever experienced anything like zip-lining through dense forest before but I have to say that my husband was equally as excited about getting on the Unimog (4×4 vehicle) that took us to the chalet. We were in a group of 10 people, joined by 4 staff to get us geared up, trained and to join us on our trip down. It was so exhilarating to release from the first platform, trying to take in the magnificent scenery at the same time keeping our bodies in the right direction so that we actually landed on the next platform without having to be caught by one of the staff, or reeled in by one of the staff if we braked too early.
Rope bridge over Eagle Creek
After one run, we realized that we didn’t need to worry as much about our skill and were able to snap some pictures. The trees are so tall and lush, the sound of the animals was right there at our ear… the zip-line excursion was almost sensory overload. We ended with a short break in the gift shop, enjoying hot chocolate and popcorn. We were even given a little medal to commemorate our achievement. My two year old son loves it!
Zipping through the Tongass canopy