Tongass National Forest: Skagway

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!


The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the USA, covering 17 million acres of Southeast Alaska. We stepped foot in sections of this forest in three different ports on our cruise up the Inside Passage.

Tongass contains one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the world.  Yet forests make up only 60% of Tongass. The forest also encompasses wetlands, fjords, glaciers and mountains.

Theodore Roosevelt designated the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve in 1902 and Tongass National Forest in 1907.  The two joined in 1908 to create a huge reserve covering most of Southeast Alaska.

The indigenous people took the government to court for theft of their ancestral lands. In Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska v. United States, the court found that indeed the Tlingit and Haida had a rightful claim to the land. They settled the case in 1968 for $7.5 million. 


The White Pass and Yukon Route Railway offers train travel to explore the White Pass Trail. The Alaska portion of this trail crosses lands managed by the National Park Service and Tongass National Forest.

We took the train from Skagway and passed by the Denver Valley Caboose on the way to the Yukon. This caboose serves as a rental cabin. Denver Caboose Cabin offers excellent views of the East Fork Skagway River and the Sawtooth Mountains. It is surrounded by a spruce and hemlock rainforest. A 4.5-mile trail to Denver Glacier starts here.

Skagway posts

    Location: East of Skagway, Alaska
    Designation: National Monument
    Date designated/established: December 5, 1978
    Date of my visit: June 7, 2022