You might call the Tongass Rainforest Alaska kayak tour our “best of both worlds” trip as it features two incredible locations on the same adventure. This kayak trip splits time between two very distinctive Alaskan habitats, both encompassed within the vast Tongass Rainforest, the largest temperate rain forest in the world. Part of this kayak tour explores the frigid realm of a tidewater glacier and its countless icebergs. The other part vists the warmer waters of Frederick Sound known for great humpback whale watching.
The first part of this Alaska kayak tour visits LeConte Bay and LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. During its long, slow course through the millennia, it has ground its way down from the mountain peaks to carve a deep fjord. Thick green rainforest of hemlock and spruce line the fjord except where 3,000-foot polished cliffs prevent their growth. Gorgeous waterfalls cascade down, emerging from “hanging glaciers” perched high on the ridges. The LeConte Glacier terminates in the 12-mile long bay where it constantly fractures with loud cracking reports and calves off icebergs with thunderous effect. The bay’s waters are clogged with blue and white icebergs ranging in size from baseballs to buildings. LeConte Glacier is an excellent place to observe the immense power of glacial forces and observe unique geological phenomena.
After three days at this dynamic location we take a charter boat to re-locate to Big Creek on Kupreanof Island. Our kayaking basecamp is nestled in the ancient Tongass rainforest near an old trapper’s cabin by a salmon-spawning stream. Wildlife abounds, from mink and chickarees up to moose, bear and wolves. Rewarding hikes are found in the rainforest, up the foothills, and along the deserted beaches. Of course, the sea kayaking is great, as is humpback whale watching and encounters with porpoises, sea lions, and seals. Frederick Sound harbors the largest summer population of humpback whales in the world, up to 500 individuals, so our chances of seeing these massive animals is excellent. A unique combination of oceanographic features make the waters off the mouth of Big Creek very attractive to herring and other prey species that humpback whales prefer to feed on.
Tongass Rainforest Alaska Kayak Tour Itinerary
If you don’t have enough time for the full Tongass Rainforest Alaska kayak adventure, you can choose to visit just one of the basecamps for three nights. This shortens the tour to five days, including staging time in Petersburg. Call us about this option if it works better for your Alaska vacation plans!
- Day 1: Fly or ferry into Petersburg, Alaska. Enjoy this quaint little town after settling into your hotel. Meet the group and kayak guides at 7:30pm for a briefing and final check of everyone’s personal equipment.
- Day 2: Board a float plane or charter boat to LeConte Bay kayak basecamp with its constantly changing view of countless icebergs and smaller bergy bits that rapidly move in and out of the bay on the powerful tidal currents. We will listen to the rumbling and roar of the LeConte Glacier and the icebergs as they break apart. Afternoon sea kayaking skills and safety orientation. Later we’ll get to know each other around a beach campfire.
- Day 3 & 4: Explore the wonders of LeConte Bay and its tremendous glacial activity. We comb through various coves, beaches, waterfalls, and feeder streams that line the bay and keep our eyes out for abundant otter, harbor seals, eagles, and shoreside life. Daylight hours are quite long and there is time for photography, fishing, beachcombing, or just lounging around. Your expedition staff is available at all times to lead walks, identify flora and fauna, and discuss the natural history of the area.
- Day 5: Open morning for a short hike or relaxation before a float plane arrives to take us 55 miles west to Kupreanof Island and the Big Creek kayak basecamp on the shore of Frederick Sound. The flight is spectacularly scenic as we follow the Horn Cliffs, Thomas, and Portage bays. The Coast Range and icebergs are left behind, but the area we enter is richer in marine wildlife.
- Day 6 & 7: The Big Creek area is a vitally important summer feeding area for humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, porpoises, harbor seals, river otters, and other marine life. The upland habitats support black bears, deer, moose, and even timber wolves. A hike in the muskeg habitat reveals an amazing array of unique flora, including carnivorous plants. At some point, we will hop in a charter boat for close encounters with the whales and porpoises and to explore areas too far to reach with the kayaks.
- Day 8: Last chance to explore the miles of pristine beach and old-growth Tongass rainforest before the float plane or charter boat arrives to return us to Petersburg this afternoon. The last night of our Alaska kayak tour will be at a hotel. The no-host dinner is a fine time to share our vacation stories and bid each other farewell.
- Day 9: Off to your next adventure!
Quick Alaska Kayak Trip Facts
Meeting Location: Petersburg, Alaska.
Kayak Trip Fee: 9 days/8 nights, $2999 per person for large groups (~10pax). 4 days/3 nights, $1499 per person for large groups. Small group surcharges apply.
Kayak Tour Dates: Available on a custom trip basis only, please provide us with your requested dates and group size.