At almost 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is the largest National Forest in the United States. Due to this size, the Tongass is divided into ten ranger districts.
Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District
The Ketchikan Ranger District encompasses the southeastern end of Tongass National Forest and includes the glacier-sculpted Misty Fiords National Monument and Wilderness Area. The Southeast Alaska Discovery Center is also located in Ketchikan, and is a great place to visit and learn about the natural and cultural history of the Tongass.
Craig Ranger District
The Craig Ranger District is located on the southern half of Prince of Wales Island, the largest island in Southeast Alaska. Prince of Wales Island has the most extensive road system in Southeast Alaska, ranging from paved scenic byways to logging roads that require four-wheel drive. These roads provide access to numerous areas where you can fish, hike, camp, hunt, boat and view wildlife.
Thorne Bay Ranger District
Covering the northern half of Prince of Wales Island, the Thorne Bay District is known for its cave systems and karst topography. The caves offer a unique recreation opportunity for visitors and a valuable research area for scientists. Paddlers can also take advantage of two water trails found on the District.
Wrangell Ranger District
The Wrangell Ranger District encompasses Wrangell Island and the surrounding mainland and islands. The heart of the area is the Stikine River, the fastest navigable river in North America and an important stop for birds on the Pacific Flyway. Anan Wildlife Observatory is also a spectacular destination, with the chance to not only view black and brown bears, but bald eagles, salmon, seals and other wildlife as well.
Petersburg Ranger District
In the middle of the Tongass, the Petersburg Ranger District consists of Mitkof, Kupreanof, Kuiu and many smaller islands. The Mitkof Highway provides access to many picturesque recreation areas, including the Swan Observatory, popular fishing and hiking spots, and views of the scenic Wrangell Narrows.
Sitka Ranger District
Situated on the outer coast of the Gulf of Alaska, the Sitka Ranger District encompasses Baranof Island and part of Chichagof Island. The road system provides access to numerous miles of hiking trails, while access to the outer coast provides great opportunities for whale watching and fishing. The Mount Edgecumbe Volcanic Field is another unique feature found on this district.
Hoonah Ranger District
The Hoonah Ranger District encompasses most of Chichagof Island, an island known for its high density of brown bears. A system of dirt roads provides for further exploration and opportunities to hunt, fish, hike, pick berries, mountain bike, and watch wildlife. Hoonah is one of the largest Tlingit villages in Alaska and offers various cultural sites and events.
Juneau Ranger District-Admiralty National Monument
The Juneau Ranger District surrounds the largest city in Southeast Alaska and the capitol of the state. Visitors can learn about the Tongass, view a glacier, camp, and access many miles of trails at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and Recreation Area. Juneau is also the headquarters for nearby Admiralty Island National Monument, known for the Kootznoowoo Wilderness Area and Pack Creek Brown Bear Viewing Area.
Yakutat Ranger District
The most northern of the ranger districts, the Yakutat Ranger District is located on mainland Alaska and is surrounded by tall mountains and massive glaciers. Its setting on the Gulf of Alaska provides the area with sandy beaches, waves suitable for surfing, and world-class fishing on the Situk River. The Yakutat Forelands is an important area for migratory birds, and it hosts one of the largest known breeding colonies of Aleutian Terns.